6 key questions to ask when choosing an intelligent document processing solution

Selecting an intelligent document processing (IDP) solution to automate manual tasks related to invoice approvals, inventory management and other back-office functions is not easy. Multiple options with similar functionality can make it challenging to create a short list, never mind choose a clear-cut winner.

To make the process less difficult, here is a list of six questions to ask as you evaluate different IDP solutions. These questions cover critical criteria that should be on every company’s radar, but that are often overlooked. Asking these questions can help whittle down your vendor list more quickly — and ensures you don’t end up with a solution that ultimately falls short of expectations.

1. Is the solution adaptable?

Getting employees and vendors to change their behavior is usually an uphill battle, so make sure the solution you select can adapt to existing processes. It should not require you to change your workflows, or mandate that your vendors send invoices in a specific format.

2. What document formats can it handle?

Verify the solution can process all the document formats you receive. A platform that can handle both digital and handwritten documents ensures you have the flexibility to meet any format from any vendor.

3. How robust is the reconciliation functionality?

If you plan on automating processes like invoice approvals where data within documents must be validated against the data in internal systems, you will need an IDP solution that not only reconciles data, but that also proactively alerts staff when discrepancies are identified so issues can be quickly resolved. Some solutions like ClearDox will even provide collaboration tools that enable staff to communicate with team members and vendors about discrepancies directly from the user interface.

4. Will it automate the entire process?

Some IDP solutions require data from paper documents to be manually entered into their platforms. Ensure you get the maximum return on your investment with a solution that eliminates all manual data entry.

5. What technologies does the solution use?

The technologies an IDP solution uses for extracting invoice data — and how it uses them — can have a big impact on accuracy. For example, solutions that use one optical character recognition (OCR) engine with one artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solution to extract data from every invoice, regardless of format, limits the level of accuracy that can be achieved. IDP platforms with a “hybrid approach” that incorporates multiple OCR engines, multiple AI/ML solutions and other technologies provide more accurate results because they use whichever options are best for each document type.

6. Is it scalable?

While your focus may currently be on automating one specific process, you may want to automate additional processes as your business grows and evolves. Look for a solution that can scale to automate processes across multiple functional areas so you don’t have to purchase an entirely new solution to accomplish your automation goals.

One final thing to keep in mind is whether the solutions you’re considering have been used successfully in your market. Vendors that have worked with companies similar to yours will understand your industry-specific challenges, which makes for a smoother implementation, and ultimately, a more successful return on your investment.

For commodities in the commodities space looking to automate back-office processes, ClearDox may be a good fit. Developed by commodity industry veterans, ClearDox has been used to automate back-office processes for companies including Gulf Oil and Freepoint Commodities. Contact us to learn more about ClearDox.

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