Reducing Processing Costs and Errors with AI/ML Powered OCR: Continuing the Conversation

The recent webinar on AP Automation featured Comarch’s Tomasz Spluszka and Kenneth Taylor alongside Jordan Mullins from SSON, discussing the ways in which AP Automation boosts efficiency and how to evaluate the sufficiency of one’s current AP processing system. Didn’t get a chance to view the webinar earlier? It’s available on-demand!

On-Demand Webinar

Don’t have the time to watch? Here’s a little rundown:

Tomasz Spluszka began by providing attendees with statistics addressing the role AP plays in the finance back office and how AP automation is faster, more cost-efficient, and, overall, more productive for a company. Did you know that over 33% of companies consider Accounts Payable to involve the most manual work out of all finance back office functions? He also discussed how utilizing new and developing AI is very important and how companies should consider investing in new technology to improve their systems. Then, Kenneth Taylor discussed some of the specific cases Comarch has worked on. He mentioned companies such as Technicolor, BIC, and Bausch Health, and how Comarch has helped improve their AP systems. The common feature between these companies was how Comarch’s AP automation system created harmonization within the company. 

Next, Tomasz addressed the AP automation process and steps. He mentioned the different types of methods: manual data capture, data capture supported by OCR, and smart data capture. He mainly focused on the differences between data capture using OCR versus smart data capture. Smart data capture uses AI and some of the benefits include: the AI learns more every time it is used and more invoices are able to be captured at a quicker rate. He also mentioned that those who would benefit the most from investing in smart data capture include: 

  1. Companies with a high number of invoices
  2. Companies with a high investment budget
  3. Companies with low amounts of owned resources

Throughout the webinar, companies were invited to share insights into the top challenges they face when processing invoices. Many companies face problems with errors, whether in the form of duplicate payments or from manually entering invoice data incorrectly. Other companies stated that they simply do not have enough time or resources to effectively research potential software providers even though they know they’re in need of automation software. Some companies with a global presence shared that they have challenges ensuring proper tax regulations are followed according to the country the invoice is from. No matter the size or technological sophistication of the company, one thing is certain, every organization faces some sort of challenge when it comes to processing incoming invoices. 

Once Kenneth and Tomasz finished with their presentation, Jordan opened the webinar to questions. We didn’t have time to answer all of the questions – so we’re continuing the conversation and providing answers below. 

Q: With many people now working from home, how has this affected AP processes?

A: Working from home has led to many challenges for companies that do not have an easily accessible cloud-based AP platform. Now, more than ever, employees are working from home and need to be able to access systems remotely. On top of this, platforms need to be user-friendly and easy to navigate to make training new employees as simple as possible since extensive, in-person training will not always be an option. 

Q: How is security valued and how prominent is it in AP automation systems?

A: Data security is monitored and security development and implementation are very important and highly valued. AP automation provides companies with an improved security system that helps reduce risks of fraud. The security features help reduce both external threats as well as internal by limiting how much information a single employee has access to. In addition, the easy-to-navigate system provides a way to trace activity back to specific people, times, and places. 

Q: Has COVID changed the future of AP automation?

A: The future of AP automation is cloud-based. No longer are employees always working together in an office environment so they need to be able to access systems remotely from wherever they are working. This, of course, leads to security concerns and companies need to ensure they are using a modern platform with security measures in place and connected to secure data centers. COVID has not changed the fact that companies need correct and reliable data in real-time, business partners will not accept late or inaccurate payments simply because employees are working from home. Therefore, it is imperative that artificial intelligence and machine learning be used in conjunction with OCR to ensure invoice data is accurate the first time. 

Q: How long would it take to switch all my business partners over to a new invoicing portal/provider?

A: This largely depends on the size of the project and the number of business partners a company wants to connect with. A typical project can take anywhere from 1-3 months to get every partner onboarded onto the new system. Depending on what option works best for the company, Comarch can work with every business partner to get them onboarded to the new system or the company can choose to onboard their partners themselves by utilizing Comarch’s self-onboarding tool.  

AP Automation has been shown to accelerate approval cycles, increase employee productivity, reduce late-payment penalties, and lower overall invoice processing costs.

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