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Tim Robertson

How AP Automation Works (In Plain Language)
How AP Automation Works (In Plain Language) 150 150 Tim Robertson

In this 2 minute video, you’ll find out how AP automation works to simplify the processing of all your supplier invoices in accounts payable.


There are 3 components to the AP automation process:

  • One is capture: extracting data from either paper invoices or emailed PDFs or other electronic formats.
  • Second is workflow: where invoices are gathered into a central dashboard, and automatically sent to managers to review and approve.
  • And 3rd is archive & audit: where invoices are archived for searching, reporting, and auditing.

As a business, you are continually receiving supplier invoices either through the mail or by email. If the invoice is in paper format, it is easily scanned and processed by Intelligent OCR.

Intelligent OCR goes through and picks out all of the important fields on each invoice, and then saves that data in the cloud. Emailed invoices in PDF or other electronic format are processed by an Electronic Invoice Engine. It picks out all of the important fields on each invoice, and then saves that data in the cloud.

In Invoice Automation, you view both the data and images of the invoices captured. Invoices are automatically distributed to the proper role for coding and approval based on company policies. There is also a workflow for invoice exceptions. Once invoices are fully approved they are sent to your ERP or accounting system for payment. At all times, you know where each invoice is in the approval process.

Invoice Automation will also securely archive all your supplier invoices, including the audit trail. This archive is fully searchable by over thirty different values including account code, approver, invoice number, and more.

The Difference Between a Data PDF and a Scanned PDF Explained
The Difference Between a Data PDF and a Scanned PDF Explained 150 150 Tim Robertson

There are 2 types of PDF file formats used for supplier invoices, and they are a data PDF and a scanned PDF.

Data PDF

A data PDF is an invoice that is generated by an ERP or accounting system, or with a utility that creates PDF files for documents. If you can highlight the text in a PDF document, and then successfully paste the text into a spreadsheet or Word document, then the PDF is a data PDF.

AP Automation Invoice

In a data PDF you are able to highlight the text, and paste that text into another document.


Scanned PDF

A scanned PDF is an invoice that has been printed and scanned. It is not possible to copy the text.

Because this invoice has been printed and scanned it loses the data layer in the scanning process (as the scanning is only taking a picture of the text information on the page) and you can no longer highlight the text. Instead of highlighting the data, you can highlight a box, as in this example.

AP Automation Invoice

In a scanned PDF, you are not able to select text. Dragging your mouse across the page results in a box.

For digital capture, you need a system that will capture both types of documents. Intelligent OCR captures data from both paper and emailed invoices, regardless if the PDF invoice is a data PDF or a scanned PDF. Find our more about Intelligent OCR.

Finance Top 2 Priorities for 2016: AP Automation
Finance Top 2 Priorities for 2016: AP Automation 150 150 Tim Robertson

Accounts Payable Automation Priorities….
The message is clear – finance people want Accounts Payable automation to increase visibility, minimize the need to handle paper documents and reduce the risk of error in the AP process.

The message is clear – finance people want accounts payable automation to increase visibility, minimize the need to handle paper documents and reduce the risk of error in the AP process. According to The Institute of Finance & Management’s (IOFM) recent survey of several thousand North American AP financial professionals, when asked to list their “top two priorities for the next 12 months” the respondents listed these as two of the most important issues for their organizations for the coming year:

  • Automated Workflows for Invoice Approval 39%
  • Automated Workflows for Invoice Exceptions 37%

This is what we do. Having worked with organizations for over ten years, we understand the complexities inherent in moving information throughout your organization. Experienced at helping companies fine tune and streamline these processes, we do this by minimizing the manual touch points at which so many of your problems occur and in doing so we reduce errors and increase visibility and efficiency.

When researching the most appropriate and cost effective AP automation solution keep these points in mind. You will want to implement a solution that is easily configured, flexible and user friendly. And of course, your solution must increase efficiency and be cost effective.

Things to Consider:

Document matching and routing

Invoices should be automatically matched with purchase orders, contracts or other sources of identification- employee name, office location, department – then routed via workflow to relevant person for approval or exception handling, depending on your processing requirements.

Coding and approval

You should be able to set your own rules and based upon these rules, the correct account postings should be added to the invoice, which can then be automatically transferred to the correct approval workflow. Some solutions can even add workflow steps if additional approvals are needed based upon your specified authorization levels.

The more user-friendly solutions will allow your administrators to control your approval hierarchies, authorization amounts, account coding templates, workflow design, users and other critical business criteria.

Workflow configuration

The more advanced solutions feature a graphical designer that can be used by your administrators to quickly and easily create workflows and matching selections to meet your ever changing environment.

The Boston Globe Integrates NetSuite AP Automation
The Boston Globe Integrates NetSuite AP Automation 150 150 Tim Robertson

The Boston Globe, one of North America’s major daily newspapers, has deployed an advanced web-based financial management solution from enterprise purchase-to-pay specialist Palette. It integrates NetSuite AP Automation platform PaletteInvoice to streamline its invoice processing and improve operational efficiencies.

Working with Palette’s Toronto-based partner EchoVera, The Boston Globe uses PaletteInvoice to ensure that the 20,000 supplier invoices it manages annually are processed, approved and scheduled for payment quickly and efficiently. PaletteInvoice will also enable The Globe to achieve significant measurable cost-savings and efficiency gains by simplifying daily processing of supplier invoices and purchase order matching.

Diane Stack, Payroll Manager for The Boston Globe, said: “PaletteInvoice has enabled us to enhance our invoicing processes and efficiencies without the need for a larger finance team, and at a highly competitive price point compared to other solutions. It has provided greater transparency over accounts payable activity across the entire organization, enabling us to have a much tighter control over operations, more closely monitor KPIs, track payments and have a greater ability to manage volumes of work. We now have much better reporting that enables us to ensure that all invoices are paid in a timely, fully automated manner, significantly reducing the resource required to manage invoice processing.”

Following the success of the initial deployment, The Globe is now looking to add PaletteBuyer, a module that will help control their indirect spend by automating the requisitioning and purchase order process. It is anticipated that the deployment will be completed in time for the solution to go live on January 1st 2016.

Stack added: “The Invoice module deployment has delivered a strong return on investment, proving the value of Palette’s solutions. As a result of this success we are currently adding the Buyer module which we anticipate will greatly improve our cost and spend control across the business, tightening spend approval processes and creating an enhanced audit trail for all purchases.”

Ralf Leitner, CEO of EchoVera said:  “PaletteArena has a track record of delivering a clear return on investment which makes it an attractive proposition to our customers. The fact that it can integrate with NetSuite to help deliver a fully automated accounts payable process is a key differentiator that adds real value to our customers’ deployments.”

Michael Cichy, General Manager Americas at Palette commented: “The partnership with The Boston Globe is the launch of a major initiative to integrate ourselves with other NetSuite customers and develop another vertical ERP practice in the North American market. We are hopeful that a successful implementation will help us further develop the relationship with The Globe’s ownership and see further projects in the future.”

Palette’s core product suite, The PaletteArena Suite, gives customers complete visibility and control of the P2P process by linking purchases, invoices and contracts. Earlier this year the company released PaletteArena 6.3. It introduces several new features to enable enhanced integration with corporate and personal payment card expenditure and improved purchase order management. Key enhancements in PaletteArena Version 6.3 include a completely new user interface to simplify key functionality and processes; further integration with PaletteConnectivityServices, replacing paper based processes with their e-invoicing function; increased spend management through PaletteExpense, enabling oversight of credit card expenditure; and improved purchase order matching enabling users to link invoices based on value as well as quantity.

Intelligent Data Capture for Netsuite – Video
Intelligent Data Capture for Netsuite – Video 150 150 Tim Robertson

In this video, you’ll see how Intelligent Data Capture for NetSuite integrates with ChronoScan, one of the world’s leading (and cost-effective) Intelligent OCR platforms.

ChonoScan is a powerful optical character recognition software which reduces the need for manual data entry from supplier invoices. Chronoscan speeds up processing time, automates the accounts payable process, and makes all of your accounts payable activity visible inside of NetSuite. Chronoscan is part of our solution called: Intelligent OCR for NetSuite


Finally! Intelligent OCR for NetSuite
Finally! Intelligent OCR for NetSuite 150 150 Tim Robertson

Intelligent OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for NetS
uite Changes the Playing Field

Intelligent OCR for NetSuite has changed the playing field in a very positive way. It’s useful for processing both email and paper invoices through NetSuite’s accounts payable workflow, with limited manual intervention or error.
Intelligent OCR:
  • Processes AP invoices directly from email without the need to print them
  • Scans paper and emailed AP invoices intuitively, capturing relevant invoice fields
  • Cuts invoice processing cost by 50%
  • Increases productivity by 40%
  • Integrates seamlessly with NetSuite

Intelligent OCR for NetSuite is capable of automatically and intuitively detecting/learning the particular supplier invoices based on their respective layouts, allowing the scanning and/or importing of emailed invoices to be more efficient. Intelligent OCR intuitively performs field mapping and data collection, freeing up time and making the entire process more efficient. 

Intelligent OCR for NetSuite is “next generation” OCR.  More information about Intelligent OCR for NetSuite.

To schedule a live demo: Intelligent OCR for NetSuite Demo

How do you choose the best solution?

The type of OCR solution that you choose will depend upon a number of factors; the number and type of documents (single page or multi-page) that you need to scan; the frequency with which you need to get these documents into your system; the purpose of the documents – are they documents that you need for a business process or are you scanning information into your system primarily for record purposes?

When researching an appropriate OCR solution for your AP process you’ll want to consider the following;

  • True Image Reproduction – Keeping actual copies of each AP related document, rather than just uploading information from that document, makes it easier to control your AP process and to keep these single or multi-page documents for follow up and compliance purposes. So research those OCR solutions that have this capability.
  • Ease of Use – The simpler the better! Some of the more advanced OCR solutions can help you with your data entry by using “assisted auto fields”. These solutions can actually “read” your documents and populate the required fields in your AP-related documentation.
  • Data Conversion – Superior solutions are able to extract your data from PDF formatted documents and convert this information into “indexed data” that you can then export into your accounting system and use.

Click on this link to find out more: Intelligent OCR for NetSuite


Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire
What Is Automated Contract Invoice Management? 
What Is Automated Contract Invoice Management?  150 150 Tim Robertson

AP automation pict

More and more organizations of all sizes are coming to realize the benefits associated with the automation of the processes related to managing their contracts. In other words, automated contract invoice management.

Taking control of your contracts gives your team immediate access to crucial contract information – at anytime and from anywhere, increasing productivity and making contract negotiations easier and more effective.

In particular, with today’s technology, organizations can automate the repeat processing of their recurring contracts and send them automatically to their ERPs. For organizations who deal with multiple recurring contracts – telephone, utilities, rentals – the related cost savings can be substantial as these contracts can be automatically matched to account numbers allowing for the posting to the proper charge codes followed by automatic payment approval.

How does automated contract management work? 

Contracts are scanned or imported and archived securely in an electronic database. The more highly automated solutions work in conjunction with your company’s existing supplier information. Users are already in the system as are the company’s specific authorization rules, work flows, user roles and other regulations.

Things to consider when trying to find an effective contract automation solution:

  • Does the solution archive all types of contracts in such a way that it’s easy for us to find and access them as necessary?
  • Does the solution allow us to automatically process our recurring invoices (leasing contracts, utility bills, rentals, subscriptions, etc.) while, at the same time, alerting us to overspending and other irregularities?
  • Can we set reminders so that the solution lets us know when it’s time to renew a contract?
  • Does the solution enable self-billing for contracts that come without vendor invoices (eg. office leases)?

Do you need to take control of your contracts? Would you like to have immediate access to all of your contract information for review and renegotiation purposes? How would you like to automate the repeat processing of recurring invoices and send them directly to your ERP? PaletteContract can assist you with all of this and more. Repeated invoices such as rentals, telephony and other utilities can be automatically matched to account numbers or contracts, posted to the proper charge codes and approved for payment.

Approximately 15-25% of all expense invoices can be matched this way. With all of your contacts stored centrally – accessible and searchable – you will have full visibility and control. Efficiency will be increased and you will save both time and money.

Global Adoption of Electronic Invoices – Slowly But Surely
Global Adoption of Electronic Invoices – Slowly But Surely 150 150 Tim Robertson
electronic invoicing airport picture

E-Invoicing Growth Worldwide Does Not Reflect Potential Savings

A new survey on e-invoicing has emerged, highlighting the possible savings, and the current state of adoption of the technology globally.

The Billentis Report states that e-billing and invoicing solutions can help achieve per-invoice savings up to 80%, and that over 40 billion invoices will be issued globally this year – an impressive figure.  However, it’s still less than 10% of the estimated 500 billion invoices sent each year worldwide, which puts the data in perspective.

Despite this, the savings possible with paperless billing are still considerable:  the report states that e-invoicing adoption by the Danish Government saves Danish taxpayers €150 million a year, and businesses €50 million.  In Italy, the government’s adoption of an e-procurement system has realised even large savings, reducing costs by over €3 billion.
Companies can accelerate adoption of e-invoicing using solutions such as Palette’s e-Invoicing Services Portal, which enables users to invite customers and partners to quickly set up and benefit from the cost- and time-savings enabled by e-invoicing, without the need for complex implementation.  This also helps accelerate cost savings and efficiency benefits.  Find out more about how we can help here.
AP Automation Can Improve Supplier Relationships
AP Automation Can Improve Supplier Relationships 150 150 Tim Robertson
accounts payable automation and GM

GM and other North American automakers get a clunker rating for their supplier relationships. Photo credit –

The most recent North American Automotive – Tier 1 Supplier Working Relations Index Study has shed some light on the financial implications of having good supplier relationships. Can accounts payable automation help?

The study examined the automotive industry and how its suppliers view the major car manufacturers and their relationships…something that can be relevant to all industries.

General Motors, Ford, Nissan and FCA missed out on a total of $2 billion because of poor relationships with their suppliers. The author of the study found two main factors that affected this relationship.  The first had to do with how contracts are honoured and if the purchasing department worked to improve relations (procurement). The second related to buyers, and how they were active in resolving issues.

From the article:

This study highlights the importance and the tangible benefits of treating your suppliers fairly and honestly as valued partners. This may sound obvious, but with the problem of late payments continuing to plague SMEs in many countries, it’s clearly something that some buyers are not taking on board.

A key element of this relationship is timely payment, something that e-invoicing technology from Palette can help with by automating and speeding up the payment process. We have worked with a number of suppliers in the transport industry – including automotive components supplier US Farathane – to help them improve their purchase-to-payment processes and relationships with buyers. After all, business is all about successful and long-lasting relationships.”

The demand for accounts payable automation and accounts payable automation software is growing, as shown by sales growth of the PaletteArena purchase to pay platform, which has seen a 25% increase in sales in 2015 so far (see the article here). The accounts payable p2p cycle is being transformed by software that can match purchase orders and contracts to invoices, and increased use of electronic invoicing to reduce the costs of handling paper.

See the full article on the Palette blog here.



Purchase to Pay Integration with Netsuite
Purchase to Pay Integration with Netsuite 150 150 Tim Robertson

netsuite purchase to pay

EchoVera’s Purchase to Pay solution, ASAP, is powered by Palette’s automation platform integrated with NetSuite, the world’s fastest growing financial management system.

Palette helps businesses large and small to streamline and automate their financial processes from purchase to payment. Palette makes life easier for more than 2,000 companies in 50 countries, as the market leader in the purchase to pay process automation.

EchoVera’s ASAP purchase to pay solution gives customers complete visibility and control of the P2P process by linking purchases, invoices and contracts. The solution is fully web-based and flexible. You choose how and where you will be working.

Give your employees the opportunity to manage invoices wherever they are – on the web, in a mobile phone or via email.
Receive and send invoices in electronic form. It’s quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Pre-defined flow and accounting posting proposals determine how an invoice progresses through the system and is posted to accounts before being processed in full.

Take control of the purchasing process
Invoices can be matched to purchase orders at the line or total level, or to contracts. Palette offers a simplified ordering process that steers users to purchase the right goods, from the right supplier, at the right price. With all purchasing statistics available, you’ll have a solid basis for negotiating prices and terms

EchoVera ASAP:

  • Gives customers complete visibility and control of the purchase-to-pay process by linking purchases, invoices, contracts, purchase orders and employee expenses
  • Modular-based, allowing customers to pick and choose only those modules that are important to them
  • Customers can choose between an on-premise installation or cloud service (SaaS)
  • Seamless integration with NetSuite

Intelligent OCR for Netsuite:

  • Processes invoices directly from email – eliminating the need to print
  • Scans paper invoices, capturing relevant invoice fields
  • Gets high marks for ease of use and an intuitive interface
  • 95% accuracy rate for paper, 100% accuracy rate for electronic formats
  • Seamless integration with NetSuite
  • Most affordable OCR on the market today

More information about Purchase to Pay for Netsuite

More information about Intelligent OCR for Netsuite