OCR Solution Ends Invoice Nightmare
"Trainable" OCR software boosts accuracy rates dramatically for a wholesale food distributor faced with thousands of invoices every day.
Selecting The Right Systems Integrator
Clearly, Institutional Jobbers needed a solution to this paperwork nightmare. The Company researched five systems integrators and decided that InfoTEK, Inc., also in Knoxville, could handle the upgrade best.
According to Melanie Adams, comptroller of Institutional Jobbers, there were several reasons for her company's selection of InfoTEK. It was the only contender which could handle the volume of paper involved, it could provide every part of the solution, and it dealt only with non-proprietary equipment. Also, InfoTEK ran its own imaging service bureau, which could prove useful if Institutional Jobbers ever needed help with a backlog.
InfoTEK's Intriguing Solution
InfoTEK performed a site survey and decided that a document imaging solution best met IJ's needs. However, because of the high volume of documents involved, InfoTEK's President, Kathy Leonard, determined that a front-end scanning solution was needed to get the documents processed quickly.
To accomplish this, Leonard selected Image Access' BSCAN, which allowed the company to apply optical character recognition (OCR) to an invoice number and correlate it with other data. For example, BSCAN's OCR determines an invoice number is "#4567." The software then learns from a download file from IJ's host system that invoice "#4567" went to ABC Company in River City on May 15, 1998. This information is then passed to the document imaging software, (in this case, Paperclip software).
This application is not unusual. What makes BSCAN particularly interesting is that it has a process known as "trainable OCR." In the case of Institutional Jobbers, the company printed its invoices on several different versions of Hewlett-Packard printers. Because they were different versions, each printer's fonts were slightly different from every other one, making OCR accuracy in reading the invoice numbers more difficult. Due to the "trainable" aspect of BSCAN, however, programmers can effectively "teach" BSCAN that "these are the possible fonts users will encounter" and the software will recognize each one in the future. Because of this process, BSCAN's OCR accuracy rate went up considerably, according to Leonard.
Solution Will Extend To Accounts Payable And Human Resources Divisions
Obviously, there was other equipment which comprised the document imaging solution for Institutional Jobbers. This included two, large 2138A Bell & Howell scanners, an 80FX Hewlett-Packard jukebox, and Cornerstone monitors. According to Melanie Adams, Institutional Jobbers Co. has been very pleased with the installation. She indicated that the return on investment (ROI) has been only 1.8 years. She also indicated that her company has asked InfoTEK to apply similar solutions to its accounts payable and human resources divisions.