Software Integration Key To Invoice Automation
Business Solutions, November 2009
One challenge faced by many document capture systems integrators is the need to work within the constraints of a customer's existing infrastructure. And, if your customer has been actively involved in developing its legacy applications and hardware, introducing any new technology requires a bit of diplomacy. That's exactly the situation integrator NMS Imaging found itself in when it worked with Corcentric to automate that company's paper-handling process.
Corcentric helps companies in the transportation industry reduce the time, aggravation, and cost of processing B2B transactions. Similar to the work performed by many document systems integrators, Corcentric builds custom solutions that move organizations from paper-based, manual processing to electronic and automated transaction processing.
NMS Imaging's expertise in document archiving led to the company designing an integrated solution that combines live-information sharing between document management systems, data processing systems, customers' websites, and email systems. Simply put, data can be entered remotely to populate fields in various business-process applications, in real time.
Despite Efforts, Paper Still Slowing Down Process
Corcentric manages 100% of each customer's transactional data, handling invoices, disputes, approvals, payment disbursements, and payment reconciliation processes. This creates an increasing volume of paper and electronic invoices, statements, disputes, and payments from the freight haulers to Corcentric. As the company grew, it was faced with either packing its office with data-entry operators or automating its paper-handling process.
"Corcentric gets a great deal of information from their vendors electronically, but paper is still flowing in for processing," explains Andy Morrison, the major account executive at NMS Imaging. "In particular, paper invoices needed to be converted to electronic versions in order to push that data into their system for presentment and payment."
Corcentric undertook substantial due diligence prior to selecting its invoice-automation solution. Among Corcentric's final candidates was ReadSoft, which engaged its reseller partner NMS Imaging to take on the task of integrating ReadSoft INVOICES software with Corcentric's electronic invoice presentment & payment (EIPP) system.
ReadSoft INVOICES captures information from incoming invoices regardless of whether those invoices arrive on paper or in an electronic format. Once the software's OCR (optical character recognition) technology has extracted data from an invoice, it automatically classifies and sorts the invoices and is able to validate the captured data against an internal business system, such as one from SAP or Oracle. If there is a 100% match, the invoice can be posted for payment automatically. If any errors are found or if there is no purchase order on file to match against, then the invoice is sent for approval via an electronic workflow.
Morrison believes the turning point toward the final purchase decision was during the fourth daylong meeting with Corcentric. "We started that meeting by running previously unseen invoices through the ReadSoft INVOICES solution we'd built for them. Without any setup or correction, the software identified, extracted, and presented the invoice data at about 90% accuracy."
Data Capture Further Increases Customers' Accounting Efficiencies
The project started off handling approximately 70,000 invoices per year. These invoices might run anywhere from the standard single page to over 100 pages in length. Notably, they also can involve multiple levels of line items. The ability to capture and separate the specific line-item details was crucial to Corcentric. At the time of the deployment, ReadSoft was announcing a new version of its INVOICES software. The timing allowed NMS Imaging to convince ReadSoft to test some of its latest technology on the complex line items Corcentric wanted to capture. "The additional capability we could leverage through the new technology provided Corcentric's customers with the ability to digitize invoices all the way down to the line-item detail," says Morrison. "Now its users can digitize invoices while retaining all of the detail, greatly increasing the efficiency of accounting and related systems because minimal human intervention is needed." Based on recommendations from NMS Imaging, Corcentric chose Kodak scanners (i1400) and software. The i1400 scanner was selected for its ability to handle all types of paper stock, ranging from card stock to onionskin, and in varying sizes.
Customers and their respective suppliers were phased into the new workflow over time, with the integrated system in production after a year. Corcentric is now processing both paper and electronic transaction data with equal efficiency.
This has improved customer service, as well as brought better vendor relations, thanks to faster payments. Best of all, it leaves both Corcentric and its customers able to focus on their own core competencies.