AP Automation

Using Intelligent OCR with QAD, Infor, and Epicor
Using Intelligent OCR with QAD, Infor, and Epicor 150 150 Tim Robertson
intelligent ocr quad infor epicor
Enterprises using QAD, Infor, and Epicore ERP software are discovering the value of using Intelligent OCR in order to capture invoice information accurately and automatically. It saves time and money, is cost effective, and the software can be cloud-based – what’s not to like?

It’s important, however, to make a distinction between OCR and Intelligent OCR, as they have vastly different capabilities.

Some Context: How OCR Has Evolved Over Time

1. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – 1978
The development of OCR for use in AP departments. Scans paper invoices. Data is entered manually.

2. Template Optical Character Recognition – 1993
OCR development takes a step farther – the technology detects an invoice type by using the configuration of its layout.

OCR plays an integral role in accounts payable automation. It has both automated and manual functions. In larger organizations, invoices are scanned and then “field-mapped”, where employees spend time mapping out the data fields for each type of invoice. Financial staff perform data collection as well by manually selecting each data zone in the invoice.

3. Intelligent OCR – 2016
Intelligent OCR recognizes invoice layouts and invoice fields intuitively, eliminating a large percentage of field-mapping and/or manual data selection. It has intelligent tagging that uses a database to store unique/common field data.

Intelligent OCR automates the field mapping and data collection functions. It detects and learns where essential information is, using invoice page layouts and data fields, allowing for the scanning and importing of uniquely complex invoices and the associated data. It also allows users to search for common values on an invoice and document it, tag it, and then store it in a database.

Avoiding Legacy Code

Intelligent OCR is a new development, and offers to make AP financial operations very efficient. But enterprises need to be vigilant about which platform they choose. Often software companies will buy or acquire OCR and scanning software and hack products together using legacy code. Customers end up buying old technology that’s playing “catch-up”. So it’s a good idea to seek out software that is built from the ground up, using the latest technology platforms and code.

Find out more:
Intelligent OCR for QAD
Intelligent OCR for Infor
Intelligent OCR for Epicor


Intelligent OCR for Sage Intacct – An Evolution
Intelligent OCR for Sage Intacct – An Evolution 150 150 Tim Robertson
intelligent OCR for Intacct

Avoid outdated OCR technology when choosing an optical character recognition solution for supplier invoices.

Organizations with one of the world’s most popular ERPs are considering making their operations more efficient by using Intelligent OCR. But not all OCR technologies are made equal, and most OCR technology is still fairly resource intensive for accounting departments. Why is that?

No denying OCR is very useful in the automation of accounts payable when it comes to processing either paper or email invoices. That’s because data has to be generated from a scanned image of the invoice, and that’s what it does.

The only problem is that a lot of time is spent on field-mapping, where staff have to map out the data fields for each invoice type in the OCR software program they are using. As well, staff also spend time on data collection by manually selecting data zones.

Intelligent OCR solves the manual aspect of this task by automating both field mapping and data collection. It does this by automatically detecting (and learning) supplier invoices based on invoice layouts and data fields, allowing for the scanning and importing of different invoices of varying complexity. Intelligent OCR software also lets a user search for typical values from any document, tag it, and store it in a database.

The Evolution of Intelligent OCR for Sage Intacct

1. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – 1978

OCR is used to process scanned paper invoices, and then the invoice layouts are manually field-mapped.

2. Template OCR – 1993

OCR that automatically detects the invoice type based on its layout and sorts data accordingly.

3. Intelligent OCR – 2016

Intelligent OCR recognizes both fields and invoice layouts intuitively, dramatically reducing the need for field-mapping and manual data selection. It also allows for intelligent tagging.

AP departments are spending more time looking for ways to optimize their operations, rather than looking for fields in an invoice!

See: Intelligent OCR for Sage Intaact

Image courtesy of http://www.gratisography.com

SIMPLE Invoice Processing Tool for Small Business
SIMPLE Invoice Processing Tool for Small Business 150 150 Tim Robertson
Invoice Processing Tool


Finally! A simple automated invoice processing tool for small business

There are times you want all those invoices streaming into your inbox or piling up on your desk to be transformed – no, not into dollar bills, although that would be nice – into pure data. In other words, just changed to a convenient CSV or XML file.

The way this is done is fairly simple. You send an invoice into a service like InBox, where it takes your paper invoice (that you have scanned) or an emailed invoice (which could be a PDF, Word, or other file) and sends you back an XML or CSV file. Done!

From there you can take the information and plug it into your accounting system or ERP. A great way to save time and money, but what we think is even better, stress and hassle!

Processing invoices ranks up there with sorting laundry, doing taxes, – its manual work that creates headaches with errors and mismatches.

The tool also gives back what is called a “data” PDF, which means it is a file format that can be read by electronic invoice systems.

This is what might be called AP automation, although because there is no fancy stuff like “workflow” and “audit trail”, it might be better just to call it a great invoice processing for small business.

AP automation software packages or SaaS platforms can sometimes be expensive to purchase, and there is usually some resistance to both the cost and the learning curve that comes with them. They come with features that may not be used, and might not be suitable for small business. You can see more about InBox here.


What is electronic invoicing? (from Wikipedia)
Electronic Invoicing can be a very useful tool for the AP department. Electronic invoicing allows vendors to submit invoices over the internet and have those invoices automatically routed and processed. Because invoice arrival and presentation is almost immediate invoices are paid sooner; therefore, the amount of time and money it takes to process these invoices is greatly reduced. These applications are tied to databases which archive transaction information between trading partners. The invoices may be submitted in a number of ways, including EDICSV, or XML uploads.

NetSuite Invoice Processing Handles All Formats – From Paper to PDF & EDI
NetSuite Invoice Processing Handles All Formats – From Paper to PDF & EDI 150 150 Tim Robertson

netsuite invoice processing

NetSuite Invoice Processing With Intelligent OCR & Approval Workflow

For growing organizations that use NetSuite, having a comprehensive solution for managing and inputting thousands of invoices can generate an excellent ROI. If you are experiencing issues in areas such as:

  • Experiencing growth with larger supplier invoice volumes
  • Currently keying in data from paper or emailed invoices
  • Issues with current (and usually outdated) OCR software
  • Managing both paper and electronic invoices in many different configurations, i.e. PDF, XML, EDI, paper, Zip files and more

Processing invoices manually takes time and has its shares of errors and mismatches. How can you process both mailed and emailed supplier invoices in just one step – transforming them from the format you receive them in, to usable data you can control?

This problem is solved with a solution we call Intelligent OCR. For paper invoices, Intelligent OCR intuitively reads data fields and stores different supplier invoice templates in a database for future reference. The accuracy rate is 95%+. For electronic invoices such as PDF, XML, EDI and other electronic formats, Intelligent OCR processes each invoice using Artificial Intelligence and automation to recognize the different invoice vendors and intutitively recognize data fields, achieving a 100% accuracy rate.

Once invoices are turned into pure data, approval workflow sends exceptions to approvers to review. A PO matching engine matches invoices, purchase orders and goods receipts. Non-PO invoices are workflowed to the proper approvers.

An archive and audit function keeps track of every transaction, and because the process is designed with your business processes and policies, compliance is “built in” – something CFOs appreciate.

More information about Intelligent OCR is available here.

Automated Invoice Processing Made Simple Enough
Automated Invoice Processing Made Simple Enough 150 150 Tim Robertson

automated invoice processing photo

For NetSuite or any other ERP or accounting system, a simple automated invoice processing solution

For accounts payable departments, automated invoice processing sounds like a great idea: it saves time and money. There is some push back for management though, in that AP automation software or SaaS platforms can be expensive, and have many features that may never be used.

Processing invoices can be a tedious affair, involving opening paper invoices, data entry, scanning, and in some cases printing emailed invoices in order to scan and enter them!

A nice solution for processing both mailed and emailed supplier invoices would be to be able to have them quickly transformed into usable data. That way they can be quickly introduced to the ERP or accounting system with less hassle.


A great automated invoice processing service we provide is called InBox. It’s very simple to use in that once it is setup (basically sending your scanned mailed invoices or email invoices to a predetermined email address), you get back a data PDF, plus a CSV or XML file with all the data fields that were on the original document – within just a few minutes.

No bells and whistles, workflow or other features to pay for – just a fast way to get the data you need into your accounting workflow : ) You can get a free sample of the service here.

Automated invoice processing definition:

“Technology has long enabled the automation of invoice processing from arrival to post. This means that at arrival of the invoice, the same accounts payable clerk will only need to scan the invoice into an automation software. The automation software then converts the invoice’s scanned image into a text researchable document. The different fields on an invoice can also be defined into the software so that it remembers which fields it should capture and register into the ERP systems, for instance, the amount purchase, the quantity, the supplier name, the supplier code, and so on.” – from: Wikipedia


Processing Supplier Invoices and Dinosaurs!
Processing Supplier Invoices and Dinosaurs! 150 150 Tim Robertson


More and more suppliers are sending their invoices via email. Why?

Two reasons: because it’s easy and because it doesn’t cost them anything. Your suppliers are saving time and money – but are you? 

Printing invoices, routing them for approval and manual data entry is time consuming and expensive. For many companies the question is – “How do we get the information from the invoice without doing all of this?”

There are some very simple solutions that automatically extract the data from your emailed (or scanned) invoices, picking out fields such as invoice number, date, total, taxes, etc. – and then makes them available as a PDF file with the corresponding CSV or XML file. It’s that simple, and from there you can send the invoice to your ERP or directly into your workflow.

Some things to consider:

  • Look for a Web-Based Solution: Implementing a “cloud” solution is fast and cost effective as there is no installation or I.T. involvement.
  • Consider Pay-As-You-Go: Paying on a “per-invoice” basis means that you don’t need a huge cash outlay to get started. The most cost effective solutions will process each invoice for less than a dollar.
The manual processing of paper and email invoices is going the way of the dinosaur.

We know that! For more information contact us at sales@echovera.com

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 5.24.35 PM





Dinosaur picture courtesy of:
Mike Bowler

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.