Selecting a capture solution for AP automation

Selecting a capture solution for AP automation

Posted by Pete Loughlin in AP Automation 16 Aug 2012

Capture technology is old right? Scanning business documents for archiving, processing and workflow is at least a 20 year old way or working. And as we increasingly use email and electronic messaging, our reliance on paper for business is diminishing. So capture as a business technology has no future. Right? – Wrong. Capture is alive and thriving and, as a recent Forrester report explains, it’s got a bright future.

Purchasing Insight logoA modern AP automation model has electronic invoices matching with purchase order records in a finance system, automatically reconciling receipts of goods making invoices available for payment immediately and routing the exceptions through a workflow for issue resolution. With good purchase to pay processes in place and high levels of compliance to process, the majority of invoices will be ready to pay the same day they are received.

In our dreams! In the real world there are too many exceptions to the ideal process. Indeed, the ideal is the exception!

AP automation programs often have a s a base assumption that electronic invoices, in the form of electronic files transmitted directly by suppliers, are available generally and the implied assumption is that they will be available in a standard format as prescribed by the buyer. This assumption is fanciful. Invoices will arrive in the prescribed format, correctly structured and incorrectly structured. They’ll come in electronically in other formats: email, PDF, EDI. And they come in paper too. You could reject all non-compliant invoices but a more sophisticated approach is to incorporate a multichannel capture architecture to embrace the diversity of inbound invoices.

Selecting a multichannel capture solution for AP automation

There is no single right answer to the question: “What is the best multichannel capture solution?” and as the fine report from Forrester published this month eloquently describes, the solution landscape is very confusing. When looking at the various vendors the report notes that “it can be difficult to understand what they can and can’t do”.

The report gives a great summary of the multi-channel capture space but for the purposes of selection in an AP automation context, there are a couple stand-out solutions described as well as another not covered in the report.

Kofax

Kofax stand out amongst their peers and take pride of place at the top right of the Forrester Wave diagram. Their strength is in the diversity of solutions from dynamic case management, invoice workflow and mobile capture.

Brainware

Although not the cheapest in my experience and by their own admission, Brainware are rated very highly for intelligent data capture – a key component in the AP automation toolkit.

Readsoft

Readsoft don’t get covered in Forrester’s report although they do get a special mention. Forrester recommend that they are considered for invoice capture.

Capture is old and it’s not exactly glamorous but multi-channel capture is a powerful approach to capturing invoice data. When it’s results that count, the quickest way to get close to 100% AP automation is not to wait for your suppliers to speak your language but instead learn to be multi lingual yourself.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin

  • Romu August 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm /

    ReadSoft is a definitely great solution! Thanks to their new partnership with b-pack, their electronic invoice solution, ReadSoft Online, is now integrated with b-pack’s Purchase-to-Pay solutions . I suggest you read this article to learn more: http://www.b-pack.com/about-us/news/1575-readsoft-announces-new-international-partnership-with-b-pack-purchase-to-pay-solutions.html

  • John Webster August 20, 2012 at 8:27 am /

    multi-channel capture solutions are an essential and pragmatic component of any credible “100% e-invoicing from day one” offering such as Basware’s due to the reasons you outline Peter, and our global network of Scan & Capture facilities attest to that, but the core focus of any such provider in the context of AP automation (and indeed the core evaluation criteria for any AP Automation initiative by an organization, private or public) should be on the ability for the AP Automation partner to rapidly reduce the reliance on paper capture by ramping the ability of the company’s suppliers (no matter what size) to send true e-invoices at source .. its the ability to offer easy-to-access, easy-to-use connectivity solutions for suppliers that remove paper from the value-chain that’s at the heart of removing reliance on paper capture technologies as you outline above.

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