Does this sound familiar?
Each year budget committees discusses the merits of new software proposals, perhaps even a document imaging system for Accounts Payable and Human Resources. The decision is made, or mostly NOT made, to move forward. A decision made on an amalgam of corporate direction and expenses in cash and human resources.
“We don’t have the budget”, or “We can purchase, but don’t have the time to implement.” So the decision is punted until next year…and the next year…and the following year.
Permit me through this blog to start you on a path to reduce software expenses, and months from your project management team. Less cost + Less human resources require to implement = a much better change for budget approval.
1. Define Expectations and Current Workflows.
Would you be surprised that many organizations considering document imaging are unclear on which functions will be performed on the HR/AP platform and which on the imaging platform? For instance, which platform is responsible for invoice life-cycle?
Will paper invoices be handled in the imaging platform, and electronic in the HR/AP platform?
What features in the imaging platform have been made obsolete through updates included in your HR/AP solution?
What features have been added to accommodate 3rd party imaging solutions?
I wouldn’t mention this if I didn’t encounter it frequently, but I can’t express how important it is to understand your existing infrastructure in order to make the right decisions towards improvement. Don’t make assumptions, but begin from a perspective that you know nothing. A good example is your existing invoice approval workflows, and how critical it is to understand before implementation. Swim-lane diagrams of your various approval processes will expedite a successful solution!
Other considerations include…:
Are invoices processed in a single location?
Will scanning take place at remote locations?
What are the software and hardware considerations across the organization?
Will Historical Documentsneed to be absorbed into the proposed solution?
Ok, we started to address expenses and the time required of project management staff, but there is much more to discover.
Dbtech can help when we begin a dialogue.
2. Understand the ROI.
What is the Return on Investment (ROI) you should expect and how many months until the ROI is achieved? Take time with your vendors and understand their ROI calculator and then error on the conservative side to ensure that the numbers are as accurate as possible. A cost benefit analysis your Controller or CFO buys into will more likely be approved. A fully integrated HR/AP Imaging automation solution will cut process costs by 50%.
As you review vendors, understand how they integrate their solutions with your existing HR/AP platforms. Does the solution maintain their own Vendor and Employee master tables automatically, or do they require user intervention? Is the integration real-time or batch? As important as knowing how your new imaging solution will obtain its base information to link images, you need to understand how the imaging solution extends itself to other platforms.
At Dbtech we call that our universal API. This API permits our customers to connect content and functions from our solution to ANY IT platform. Need the ability to scan within Lawson? No problem, connect the API to Lawson and immediately you are scanning directly from your Lawson screens.
Need to link an employee image to your portal? Again, pass the appropriate parameters through our API (typically employee number and document name), and employees can view their onboarding documents, pay-stubs and other images directly within your portal. Viewing, scanning and other features provided by your imaging solution should be extendable to existing solutions. This goes beyond what imaging vendors call “Image Enablement”.
An imaging solution tightly integrated with existing workflows will have a higher degree of user acceptance, and will put you on the right path to a successful project.
4. OCR & Automatically Index…or Not?
One of the most attractive and misunderstood features imaging vendors sell is scanning and automatically posting invoice data into your AP solution. This feature may mean great reward or waste based on your volumes.
First, how many paper invoices are processed daily? Is this number so daunting that it requires OCR and data extraction from the scanned invoice, or does it make sense to scan, validate and key this data simultaneously?
Remember, the best OCR is 99% accurate. This doesn’t mean 1 in every 99 invoices will be misread, but that one in every 99 characters will be misinterpreted. That l might become a 1, or that O might become a 0, and this confusion necessitates some level of user intervention, even with so-called straight-through AP processing vendors promise.
OCR and data-mining make great sense when your volumes are large, but still require manual intervention to validate misunderstood characters.
What will your volumes of paper invoices in the future? Trends are moving towards all electronic invoicing, and each day the number of paper invoices shrink. So what will be your paper invoice volumes in 5 years? Will the extra money you spend on OCR and automated processing be worth the expense today?
Let me share a little industry secret with you…
Imaging vendors have spent tremendous amounts of cash on complex OCR technologies and data-mining techniques. Some have spent 100’s of millions of dollars purchasing companies who focus only on OCR and data recognition, and the price they paid for this technology is directly correlated to the cost of their solution. The difference between a solution with OCR and data-recognition and one without can be 70% of your total solution cost.
Consider my recommendations, and if you find merit in what I have said then call us!
We can help you install the best imaging solution in the market, and we can help you to sell this solution to your budgeting committees.
So, who wants to win?