When you are looking for an AP automation vendor, there are many things to consider. Today, we are going to focus on one small (but critical!) part of the automation process that your organization needs to consider: optical character recognition (OCR).
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Many organizations are stuck with legacy OCR software that is expensive to maintain, think IT resources, dedicated hardware, and physical datacenter resources, and is somewhat inflexible in meeting the changing needs of their business. As with many other complex technologies/processes, you may need outside experts to provide the specialized skills and experience necessary to succeed. With OCR, this is not a one-time endeavor.
Because OCR, and AP automation for that matter, represent a living, breathing thing, working with a partner who provides ongoing assistance is crucial. Here are some of the reasons you should not tackle this technology yourself:
- Lack of specialized technical resources – Does your company have the IT staff necessary to support your AP team’s efforts to optimize OCR in your push for automated workflow? Many organizations do not have the internal IT document experts required to optimize OCR results. This, coupled with the general difficulty in getting attention for what are viewed as lower priority projects, means your OCR results will decline over time.
- It is significantly more expensive and difficult – The upfront investment in building your OCR software platform is very large, and because it is technically so challenging to successfully complete the project, the return on investment (ROI) often is not achieved. By the time you have implemented, the system needs more investment to keep up with changes in your process!
- Longer startup – It takes four to five times longer (16-24 months) to implement traditional OCR software. That is because this is not a common IT skill set, which leads to a steep learning curve and extensive testing/tuning before results are achieved. Do you want to wait that long?
- Undesirable results – OCR is generally promoted to be 98% accurate, but that is rarely the way it plays out, and even when it does it is only in optimal conditions. We have seen clients desperate for the results actually printing out invoices received via email so they can scan them in for OCR recognition to work! An OCR AP solution should not create more work for your team.
- Ongoing maintenance and fine-tuning – In-house OCR software requires you budget for and manage ongoing support resources to keep it from becoming ineffective. These specialized technical resources are much more expensive than AP processors, and this can effectively negate your ROI.
OCR is too important to get wrong, so take the time to understand what your internal needs are and get educated about what is truly required to succeed at it before making a final decision about how to benefit from OCR.