Meet MakersHub Smart Data Capture, a practical AI that will save you hours every week
MakersHub has trailblazed a new path in the staid accounts payable sector. MakersHub has already improved upon every aspect of accounts payable processes, with proprietary WiseVision technology enabling their impressive bill data capture features. They have unlocked what seem like accounts payable superpowers – MakersHub can eliminate the need for any manual AP data entry. It’s a game-changer for their current customers, who are now saving hours of time. On average, MakersHub customers are getting all accounts payable process tasks done 90% faster.
MakersHub fondly refers to their customers as ‘the Makers’ of the world. Businesses in construction, manufacturing, industrial services, industrial automation, etc. These companies have a few commonalities: A large volume of incoming bills, a need to capture line item details from incoming bills, and detailed coding required for items and expenses to the Chart of Accounts (to track profitability by customer, job, or project). The status quo is hours of manual data entry weekly, struggling to allocate all COGS to the right customer or project, and slow paper-based approvals or, worse, no approval systems at all for bills or payments. Accounts payable staff often struggle to get the full context to approve and code incoming bill data. AP software solutions commonly have subpar or 1-way integrations to a company’s core accounting system, causing more headaches and data entry. On the other side are frustrated vendors who don’t know when they will be paid, with opaque and 5-6 day delayed payments being typical.
What is WiseVision?
MakersHub developed proprietary WiseVision technology that is much more than simply ‘better OCR’. This is why they can truly eliminate hours of manual data entry and provide unparalleled accuracy. The WiseVision technology is comprised of two synergistic parts. Because of the focus on AP tasks, MakersHub is the first accounts payable tool to capture data from any bill or receipt format and fully remove the need for tedious data entry.
Data canvassing & deep indexing
First, MakersHub utilizes best-in-class vision technology to significantly expand the amount of raw information derived from a document. Then, they can digest and make sense of these raw data through spatial mapping and proprietary indexing of the extracted data.
Bespoke language model & localized learning
Post indexing, the partially reconciled data is exposed to a series of deterministic language models they built solely to make sense of bill data. With every MakersHub user interaction, WiseVision gets better through one-shot localized learning.
The status quo of AP is manual and time-consuming.
Most companies waste time and money running their accounts payable the old-fashioned way – with manual data entry. That can lead to wasted staff time, frustrated vendors, less real-time visibility into your cash flow, and even challenges with job costing accuracy due to difficulties coding expenses or inaccurate data.
Companies that have upgraded their invoice processing with purpose-built AP tech don’t always fare better. Many AP automated invoice processing tools only get the data right half of the time. Or they require manual work for companies to integrate it with their existing AP processes and accounting tools like QuickBooks or their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
The typical pain points sound something like this:
- The manual data entry required to enter line item details from bills and receipts is hours every week.
- It is almost impossible to ensure systematic coding of costs to the right place in the accounting system.
- Collaboration and approvals are difficult without context, and without giving all parties access to the accounting system.
- Payments are disconnected from the accounting system records, creating reconciliation headaches.
What’s invoice data capture?
Invoice data capture is the process of extracting, validating, and inputting important invoice details like supplier names, addresses, invoice numbers, project details, costs, taxes, purchase order numbers, and other information into a company’s Accounts Payable software to facilitate payments and allocate expenses.
Typically conducted by a company’s finance department, the process can be done manually or automated via supplier portals where vendors input their invoice data or through optical character recognition (OCR) software that scans physical or electronic invoices and turns them into data.
Old-school OCR is deeply flawed
However, old-school OCR-driven automation solutions are deeply flawed. They’ aren’t’re not able to reliably capture data, make mistakes, and have to be checked by a person. All this means that old-school OCR is not capable of removing data entry in a meaningful way. This is why many AP solutions using old-school OCR are only able to capture a few data fields, and even then, not without mistakes being made.
Challenges in invoice scanning and data capture
While the majority of invoices are currently sent electronically, many companies also receive paper and faxed invoices. Manually processing invoices in multiple formats introduces risks of processing errors and delays — while also requiring significant staff time.
Invoice data capture challenges include:
- Manually matching purchase orders with invoices
- High risk of errors in data input, job costing, and payments
- Extensive email and paper storage needs for invoices
- Lack of cross-functional visibility into invoices
- Difficulties coding expenses by job for industrial and manufacturing companies
- Scalability challenges as a company grows
Meanwhile, many invoice scanning ‘solutions’ also introduce challenges for companies due to persistent issues with data accuracy.
Invoice scanning challenges include:
- Manual SKU and vendor creation
- Struggles with data quality
- Difficulties with usability, utility, and flexibility
- Lack of visibility into job costing
- Bad integrations with a company’s existing accounting or ERP software
- The need to check and validate data due to frequent errors
- Lack of features needed for niche sectors like the manufacturing and industrial sectors
However, more advanced OCR solutions like MakersHub, which is purpose-built for industrial and manufacturing use cases, are able to guarantee seamless automation that’s optimized for your manufacturing business’ needs.
What is invoice capture with OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
You might be wondering what OCR is and why it helps with invoice capture. Optical character recognition or OCR is often called text recognition. An OCR machine learning program is designed to extract data from scanned documents, PDFs, emails, photographs, or other documents.
When it comes to processing invoices, optical scanners copy and read the text and then process its meaning using advanced AI that helps it identify and distinguish things like a P.O. number, an invoice number, the company’s name, the cost amounts, and more. The invoice capture software program then takes that data and operationalizes it by inputting it into its software to help a company automatically process their invoices.
With MakersHub, for example, our WiseVision technology allows companies to easily extract the following information (in fact, MakersHub can capture any data field from bills or receipts):
- Net terms
- PO #
- Invoice: Number, Date, Due Date, Reference Number, Tracking Number
- Ship to/Bill to: Name, Address
- Vendor: Name, Address, Phone, Email, Fax, URL, Account Number
- Line item: SKU, Description, Quantity, Item Price
- Totals: Total Due, Sale Tax, Shipping & Freight
Types of accounts payable scanning software
There are two main types of OCR accounts payable scanning software, also known as invoice data capture software: traditional or template-based invoice OCR and cognitive or AI-based invoice OCR.
Traditional invoice OCR
This type of OCR software works best for companies that receive their invoices according to a limited number of known invoice templates. Traditional invoice OCR then makes template-based rules for data that it extracts. The downside is that this type of invoice OCR is prone to errors and requires significant manual validation and still requires manual data entry on invoices that don’t match existing templates.
AI-based invoice OCR
AI-based invoice OCR leverages more advanced AI and machine learning technology to intelligently automate and process invoices. Because of this, the software is able to manage a wide variety of known and unknown invoice formats and data. Data accuracy is much higher with AI-based invoice OCR and requires less manual validation. For this reason, it saves significant staff time and money.
Artificial intelligence-based accounts payable scanning software also offers integrations with popular account software and ERP systems.
Some invoice data capture solutions like MakersHub WiseVision also have additional functionalities. On top od this MakersHub can address the needs of niche industries like the industrial and manufacturing sectors where job costing and project cost allocation are especially important – but often time-consuming and onerous manual processes. Learn about MakersHub Auto-mapping and Rules-driven approvals & authorizations.
Benefits of AI-based invoice OCR
Good AI-based invoice OCR software provides companies with a full suite of functionalities including:
- A smart data reader: This OCR tech ensures the company extracts the right data
- Accounting rule-set customization: This allows a company to set up an intelligent automation process that organizes the extracted invoice data in the right way (i.e. by matching it with the right job and account codes for you) and the right place to enhance the company’s real-life workflows and approval processes
- Integrations: Seamless QuickBooks integrations means that companies don’t need to do anything manually to maintain QuickBooks as their single source of truth for their accounting and business processes. We’re able to synch more data and in a more useful way than other AP automation tools
The benefits of these tools working seamlessly together translates into savings and insights for your AP department:
- Better cash flow projections
- Improved cash flow regulation
- Optimized job quoting and costing estimations
- Better cost of goods sold understanding
- Faster accounts payable turnaround
- Improved staff efficiency
- More reliable records due to less human error
- Better visibility into AP
- Payment approval optimization
- Payment automation
- Increased compliance
- Simplifies audit process
- Better scalability
- Insights into business performance that can improve margins/profit
- More competitive project bids
How to automate invoice data entry
Many invoice capture OCR solutions also allow you to automate the process of processing invoices. With MakersHub, for example, we allow companies to set up automatic forwarding invoices for processing when they receive them or provide them with an email address that will process invoices automatically upon receipt. For paper or faxed receipts, uploading scans or photographs of an invoice is required.
Companies can then create rules that automate the use of that information including:
- Automation rules for their CoA and systems
- Creating new SKUs
- Creating new vendors
- Vendor invoice management
- Invoice approval tracking: Invoice can be ‘assigned’, ‘rejected’ or ‘approved’
- Duplicate notification
- Options for auto bill payment via multiple payment methods (ACH, check, or wire)
- Vendor payment syncing with QuickBooks
- This process can also simplify job coding and improve a company’s understanding of their cost of goods sold (CoGS) to better optimize their pricing and costing strategy.
What’s the best way to ensure correct Chart of Accounts invoice coding and allocation?
Ensuring proper chart of accounts (CoA) categorization in your company’s general ledger accounts is critical for an organization to be able to break down all its financial transactions by project and job codes. This is key for a company to better understand its cost of goods sold for a particular job, on average or overall.
Having accurate CoA information can help a company compare the ROI of various product and service offerings to better understand which are driving the most profit or whether the company might need to raise prices on specific goods or services in the future. It can also make it easier and faster for a company to quote for new work. The challenge with most AI-based invoice OCR solutions is that invoice coding and allocation is still highly manual.
With MakersHub, however, much of that coding system and process is automated through data entry automation such as creating new SKUs and vendor profiles automatically. In addition, MakersHub offers job and CoA coding suggestions on all invoices – that can be confirmed by human agents with just one click. That greatly simplifies the process of coding invoices.
What are some optional features for bill data entry automation software?
When considering bill data entry automation software, here are some features you should look for – all of which MakersHub’s solution offers:
- Bills & receipts inbox: Bill & reciept processing should be easy. Look for solutions that auto-forward your electronic bills to a dedicated inbox for automated processing or allow you to drag and drop them for processing.
- Smart data capture: Better than any OCR, learn about MakersHub WiseVision technology that can truly eliminate manual AP data entry.
- Data entry automation: Why choose a solution that’s only partially automated? Look for a product that also automates the creation of new SKUs and vendors. Industrial and manufacturing companies should also look for options that offer automated job/CoA coding suggestions.
- Rules-driven Bill approvals & payment authorizations: Many OCR invoice solutions stop after processing your invoices. Choose a solution that integrates bill approval and tracking. Automatically assign bills to the right person for approval and track their progress through your system.
- MakersHub Pay, embedded payments: Why integrate another AP payment technology into your stack. Look for a solution that also allows you to auto-pay your bills and gives you a variety of payment options including ACH, check, and wire transfer.
- Auto-mapping: Smart technology is worth its weight in subscription fees. Look for software that automatically configures mapping rules to ensure the correct coding of your expenses to ensure more accurate and seamless CoA coding.
The bottom line
Accounts payable scanning software that leverages invoice capture OCR software with advanced AI and machine learning functionalities can translate into significant time savings for your company, freeing your accounts payable team up for higher leverage projects that add more value to your company.
Solutions like MakersHub, which are purpose-built for manufacturing and industrial businesses also help with automating data entry and approval workflows like creating new SKUs, inputting new vendors, job coding, and payment processing. In addition, they offer valuable insights into a company’s cash flow, financial health, and profitability. That’s critical when it comes to costing out or evaluating the return on investment of different services or product lines.
With the significant cost savings involved in deploying AI-based OCR solutions, there is little reason why companies should continue with business as usual. Manual data entry or OCR solutions that are frequently inaccurate or fail at properly integrating their data with a company’s existing financial software are a thing of the past.
The future is intelligent AP automation.