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Invoice Processing
Mar 3, 2022
Min Read

Modern, Paperless, & Secure: Automatic Invoice Processing with Artificial Intelligence

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super.AI
Chief AI for Everyone Officer
SUMMARY

The Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit, was a defining characteristic of 2021.  Millions of people left their positions looking for greener pastures. Employees cite a variety of reasons for ditching their jobs, but one of the most common is a poor work/life balance.

Automation isn’t quite where it can replace all those lost employees, but automation can help them better manage their time and solve work/life balance challenges. Many organizations already leverage automation for their sales sequences, marketing, supply chains, assembly lines, and logistics.

Still, many companies are hesitant to automate one of the essential functions: paying their bills. Almost nine out of ten small and medium-sized businesses still receive paper invoices and manually enter invoice data. Accounting data entry is time-consuming and tedious, especially for accounts payable departments. Artificial intelligence (AI) streamlines the invoicing process and takes the tedium out of valuable employees’ days.

Analog ledgers are pretty much gone, but in many cases, they’ve been replaced by software that is about as functional as an old-fashioned ledger. AI does everything ledgers do, but it also future proofs an organization’s invoice processing.

What is invoicing?

An invoice is an itemized document that records a transaction between a buyer and a seller. The invoice is time-stamped and includes payment terms. A cash register receipt is a form of an invoice, but so are tax bills, debit notes, and virtual purchase records.

Paper is bad for the planet, and your company

Paper, of course, comes from trees. In the digital age, paper is unnecessary clutter and a burden to our environment. A paperless company eliminates clutter and aligns with customer and employee values. Recent surveys show that a substantial number of people are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products.

We realize that customers rarely get a glimpse of what happens inside company offices, and paper may not seem to have the direct environmental impact that manufacturing or transportation does, but its impact is surprisingly significant.

  • Despite increasing digitization, worldwide paper consumption is expected to nearly double by 2060
  • Between 2001 and 2019, we lost almost 10 percent of the world’s trees
  • Producing paper takes twice the energy compared to manufacturing plastic bags
  • 42% of the trees harvested are used to create paper
  • Forests help eliminate the root cause of climate change, greenhouse gasses
  • About 250 million people rely on trees for their income
  • 80% of the world’s plants and land animals live in forests
  • A ton of paper (about 200,000 sheets) kills almost 25 trees
  • Manufacturing a ton of paper requires about half the energy as the average American household uses a year and creates nearly half the yearly emissions produced by the average car
  • The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population yet uses one-third of the world’s paper
  • The average office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper each year

Paper repels employees

Indeed, going paper-free is critical to building a sustainable business model. However, increased customer appeal isn’t the only way going paperless is a wise business decision; it helps attract and retain employees. More than half of employees and job seekers refuse to work for companies that don’t have strong environmental policies, and 70 percent said they’d be more loyal to an environmentally responsible company.

Paper is inefficient, costly, and a security risk

Beyond its environmental impact, paper is inefficient. According to a recent Xerox survey, nearly half of small and medium-sized businesses are wasting time on paper processes. Paper, in and of itself, is costly, but so are toner, file cabinets, file folders, and shelves.

Paper isn’t just wasteful, though; it is a security risk. Every time an invoice or confidential client or vendor information is printed or copied on a communal printer, anyone in the department can see it regardless of their position.

Manual billing system problems

Manual billing is problematic for more reasons than just its use of paper. Here are just some of the manual invoice processing problems.

  • Manual accounts payable (AP) invoice processing takes almost twice as much time as automated invoice processing
  • Manual invoice processing steps are complicated and expensive. Manual invoices cost about $30 each to process; fully automated invoices cost about $3.50
  • Companies that rely on manual invoicing are less likely to be paid on time
  • As many as 1% of manual invoices contain errors
  • It costs over $50 to rectify invoice processing errors
  • Archiving AP paper invoices cost about $4 each
  • Manual invoicing hinders tax and regulatory compliance and risks fines
  • Manual invoices hamper the ability to access data and make informed business decisions
  • On average, bad (or incorrect) data costs companies around 12 percent of their revenue

Perhaps more significantly, a manual invoice process is not scalable. The average accounts payable employee can manually process about 10,000 invoices a year. As a company grows, it’ll need to hire additional people to keep up with the workload. Beyond that, automated invoice processing AI quickly adapts to changing billing models, products, and price points.

Isn’t it time to streamline and future-proof your organization’s billing?

Advantages to AI automated billing

  • Fewer vendor questions to field, reducing operating costs
  • Reduced payroll costs
  • Clearer statements
  • Faster payments
  • Error-proofed invoicing
  • Adds agility and scalability to the invoicing process
  • Intelligently processes any type of data, even unstructured, from any sort of invoice or vendor form
  • Accelerated Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance
  • It helps save the planet
  • Simplifies regulatory and tax compliance
  • Performs high volume invoice processing

How super.AI helps modernize the invoicing process

One of the biggest challenges in processing manual and non-AI digital invoices is the lack of uniformity. Invoicing and payment processing requires multiple fields, and individual companies and employees are often inconsistent in how invoices are formatted. That’s called “unstructured data,” which is time-consuming and error-inducing for both humans and computers.

Super.AI's Unstructured Data Processing (UDP) solution translates unstructured data and turns it into organized, actionable, and reliable data that is easily accessible to drive informed business decisions.

Additionally, because our UDP platform is AI, it learns from every human transaction and changes and adapts as needed. Super.AI's UDP platform:

  • Provides dramatic cost savings
  • Is guaranteed to meet or exceed your ROI goals
  • Allows for automated end-to-end processes, which offers higher straight-through processing (STP)
  • Is simple to use, even for non-data scientists
  • Eliminates human error from manually processed invoices
  • Allows for fast, typically one call, issue resolution, which leads to better vendor relations
  • Easily integrates with RPA and other process automation tools
  • Is flexible, scalable, and easily customizable
  • Processes any data type, including text, documents, images, audio, and video

Horizontal invoice AI use cases

Redact confidential information

One of the significant security challenges for businesses is securing billing data. The average cost for a data breach is nearly $4 million. Some companies, such as British Airways and Marriott, shelled out as much as $100 million to clean up their data breaches.

That doesn’t consider the loss of public confidence once a data breach is made public. Super.AI paperless document automation redacts (hides or obscures) confidential data such as credit card information, user passwords, etc., to keep companies in compliance and maintain vendor and customer confidence.

Simplified asset inspection

Many companies have offices throughout the world, which means that their assets also span the globe. With super.AI's UDP Platform, managers can inspect their assets, upload images and documents, and create reports from any remote location. And then, corporate executives can access the data from any location.

Document extraction

Unstructured data is any type of data that isn’t part of a database or data model, such as a spreadsheet. Unstructured data takes intelligence to categorize, search and analyze. As much as 90 percent of all data is unstructured, and that number is increasing. Eighty percent of business data is unstructured.

To be fair, much of that unstructured data comes across as IoT, emails, social media, voice, video, etc., where you wouldn’t expect structured data. However, one of the most significant sources of unstructured data is in AP departments. For example, accounts payable (and receivable) departments hold a lot of confidential company and vendor information, such as company credit card numbers, mailing addresses, etc.

Super.AI’s UDP allows users to extract any type of data from both structured and unstructured forms. Then, the data is converted into structured data that provides valuable information for monitoring the current state of a business and its expenses and determining short and long-term business strategies.

Additionally, super.AI’s UDP secures and redacts confidential data, helping to ensure that all AP data is safe, even from the most malicious actors.

How to process invoices

Invoice processing has a few steps, each of which is streamlined and accurately implemented with the power of super.AI’s UDP.

Receive invoice

Invoices can come in multiple forms, including paper, email, or even fax. Most of the time, there’s already a vendor record in the system from purchase orders, and most have a general ledger code assigned.

Process invoice

Paper invoices have to be scanned and use optical character recognition (OCR), introduced into the system, which often requires humans to add unstructured data to the system’s fields. While humans are relatively adept at pulling data from anywhere on an invoice, traditional digital invoicing systems have trouble when the structure doesn’t match what they’ve been programmed to interpret. In addition, OCRs have to be specifically programmed to recognize various invoice templates and formats. This is especially problematic when also adding supporting documents.

Processing invoices requires invoice matching, which is making sure every bit of data is correct by matching it to the previously uploaded purchase order.

Did the vendor charge for the correct type of product or service? Is the price the same as what had been agreed? Did the vendor deliver on time? Are the payment terms as decided? Did they include promised discounts? Then the invoice needs to be coded to the correct department and/or expense account.

If the system finds discrepancies, it’s flagged to be addressed by accounts payable personnel. Once the issue has been resolved, the vendor then sends another invoice, and the process starts over.

  • Super.AI invoice processing consistently learns. It teaches itself to read unstructured data and non-standard invoices and enter the appropriate data in the correct fields.
  • Super.AI invoice processing integrates data from multiple applications, including SaaS applications, Zapier, RPA, MDM, a proprietary cloud, on-premise databases, and more. Files can be uploaded from a computer, URLs, or via Python or command line.
  • Super.AI’s UDP platform allows for multiple field transcription sources, including humans, software bots, and AI.
  • In addition, super.AI can manage high-volume invoice processing with blazing fast speed and accuracy.

Send for approval

Department heads don’t have time to search an invoice for relevant information, which is why fields should be standardized throughout the organization. Super.AI’s UDP platform standardizes each invoice so department heads and executives can quickly find what they need to know.

Furthermore, any authorized employee can pull accurate reports to provide a clear, easy to comprehend picture of their company’s payables. But that’s not all; they can also retrieve reports on where and how money is spent, as well as month to month, quarter to quarter, and year to year expenditures.

Pay invoice

Upon approval, payment is automatic. There’s no more need for checks, and if company policy allows, there is no need for signatures.

Record data

Once an invoice is paid, payment and any other information will need to be added to the database. Traditionally, this is done manually, leaving room for error. However, super.AI’s UDP platform eliminates the human equation in this step with total accuracy.

Close transaction

After the invoice is paid and recorded, it’s considered closed, although all information is readily accessible, and super.AI’s UDP platform learned to automatically structure data from that vendor’s unstructured invoices.

Want to learn more about automating invoice processing with super.AI?

Other Tags:
Invoice Processing
Automation
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