It was only a few years ago when you would receive a scanned document attached in an email and you’d file it away in a special folder on your server. You’d tell yourself (and anyone else around you) just how “green” you are. You’re conserving paper. You’re saving the environment. You’re not using up valuable file space. You’re doing your little part to make the world a better place. It’s all there, electronically, on a computer in case anyone wanted to retrieve it and look at it. You were doing all you could do with a scanned document and you were awesome.
But now that’s all changed. Within the past few years OCR, or Optical Character Recognition technology and Machine Learning , has taken off. While back in the day the data on a scanned form was unusable, today and using OCR and Machine Learning, all that data can be extracted, cleaned-up and put in a form for humans (or machines) to evaluate and process. Technology like this is behind the toll-road and traffic systems that take photographs of your license plate and then automatically sends you a ticket if you’re over the speed limit. It’s enabling blind people to hear books read out to them. It’s how your passport is compared to millions of others and checked for issues before you’re allowed into the country. And it’s behind a revolution in business data processing that will have a significant impact on your business in a very short time to come.
Sage Software, Inc. is a giant software company that makes business applications used by hundreds of thousands of their customers around the world for accounting, customer relationship management, inventory management and other tasks. Sage Live is their online accounting product currently used by tens of thousands of businesses.
Recently, Sage entered into a deal with Entryless, a California technology company that relies on OCR and Machine Learning to power its accounts payable and payment automation applications. If you’re a Sage Live customer, it will be very hard to resist the benefits that Entryless will offer to you.
When you start with Entryless you’ll tell your vendors that instead of mailing you physical invoices, they will instead need to scan and email those invoices to an address that Entryless will provide. If you’re already getting electronic invoices from larger companies you’ll be able to forward them to the email address. And if you’re doing business with one of the thousands of suppliers that are already partnered with Entry Less you’ll notify them to send their data to your Entryless account. Of course, this will take a period of transition. Ultimately you’ll want to eliminate any paper invoice you receive. For the few stragglers you can either manually enter them or just scan/email them directly to your Entryless account as well through an online portal or their mobile app.
Entryless uses OCR and Machine Learning. So, as we’ve learned, that means that all scanned documents will be read and the data will be extracted into a form for you to review.
You can setup workflows so that managers in your company can review and approve suppliers’ invoices too. When you initially setup your suppliers you’ll establish general ledger codes from Sage Live so that as soon as the data is brought into Entryless, the system already knows where it’s going to be posted into your accounting system.
After review and approval, your data will be automatically imported into Sage Live. No further data entry. No errors. No time lag. All of your bills are stored in “online cabinets” in case you need to search and retrieve the actual document in the future. Most importantly, Entryless will give you the ability to schedule and then automatically make electronic payments to your suppliers using the ACH (Automated Clearing House) system. All transactions will again be updated into Sage Live without errors or a time lag. Fraud is reduced. More importantly, the time it takes to accomplish your entire accounts payable process, from receipt of invoice to accounting in Sage Live is cut dramatically.
This is the power of OCR with Machine Learning technology – taking data from static forms and processing it quickly, accurately and at low cost. Sage Live’s integration with Entryless will provide a much better, cost effective accounts payable process for its customers.