Every company has to invariably deal with large volumes of invoices regardless of industry. They are an indispensable component of business operations and present an ideal use case for intelligent automation.
Since invoices are largely unstructured, RPA is unable to process them. This is where IPA comes to the rescue. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Machine Learning (ML), Computer Vision, and Natural Language Processing (NLP), IPA solutions can comprehend the context of a document, pinpointing relevant information and extracting it. The RPA component can then feed this extracted, processed content downstream for end-to-end automation also known as hyperautomation.
Take for example a company with hundreds or even thousands of suppliers. Traditionally invoices from this long list of vendors would be fed into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system where the relevant information from each invoice would be extracted manually. With the number of invoices generated on a daily basis, this would require large teams working consistently over time.
Why Templates Aren’t Up To the Job
The initial solution to manually processing a single invoice at a time was a template-based approach using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). However, this would mean predefining the locations from which the bots could extract specific information from. Creating a standardized extraction pattern that could gather company names, addresses, product descriptions, prices, and so on only worked with a set format.
Templates cannot be used when each vendor has its own different invoice layout. So, the natural way to proceed would be to create a set of templates for each different format which would be even more counterproductive than manually assessing each invoice. This approach may ultimately work if you tried hard enough to achieve the pilot. But when it comes time to scale the project with its built-in variations the whole approach becomes redundant as there are likely to be even more unmapped variations.
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) Conquers These Challenges
IPA can easily handle a plethora of templates without someone mapping them for the solution thanks to its ability to process unstructured content with ease. This makes it fairly easy to automate these invoice entity extractions. The genius of IPA solutions is that with a good dataset for training, they can learn how to recognize relevant information in any invoice. No templates are needed. Once trained, the IPA solution can identify a company, product, price, and more from any invoice. It can extract this information and then the RPA component can feed it into the ERP system where it can be used further along the workflow. The best part about an IPA solution is with enough training it can even extract invoice information from brand new vendor invoices.
The entire invoice processing chain can be automated by implementing IPA. With the relevant data extracted and fed into your ERP system, an RPA tool can be used to transfer the now-structured data into the ERP system. This is an impeccable example of how IPA can drive end-to-end automation also known as hyperautomation.
This zero-touch processing of invoices eliminates manual effort and errors and accelerates turnaround time significantly. Many enterprises take days to fully process an invoice. With the emphasis on the digitization of Accounts Payable (AP), enterprises and their employees feel the pain of lengthy invoice approval cycles with too much paperwork. IPA cuts through these challenges boosting efficiency and productivity accelerating processing from days to just minutes. Harnessing intelligent automation also significantly reduces the cost of processing invoices.
Even better, such solutions can scale with ease so if there is a sudden surge in the number of invoices to be processed when new vendors are added, the IPA solution can easily handle it.
You could also learn more about how to Expedite Invoice and Receipt Processing with AI Automation or gain inspiration from Understanding the Full Impact of Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) for Business.
Are you looking for ways to optimize your invoice processing pipeline? If you’d like to explore opportunities where your business can benefit from IPA implementations for document understanding and hyperautomation, the Rapid Acceleration Partners team would be glad to help. Our next-gen, AI-powered content intelligence platform RAPFlow enables full lifecycle AI orchestration on a single platform. When used in tandem with our RPA tool RAPBot, it provides end-to-end workflow automation capabilities that can be deployed in just weeks. You can even build your own use case and the platform can easily integrate with your existing systems. Book a demo to get a more detailed understanding of how our products can transform your business.