Automated Data Capture Types and Examples

If your company is looking to modernize business processes with automation, then it is important to have an understanding of the different types of automated data captures that exist and how they can be put to use to benefit your business. 

Employing automated data capture technology is significantly faster than traditional manual data entry and paper processes. That handwritten document and snail-mailed check are becoming business practices of the past as we step into the modern digitized age.

HR and AP departments are among the top two teams to benefit, but automated data software trickles down to a more positive onboarding experience for new hires and extends benefits across all departments for a more cohesive work environment.

Even if your knowledge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and automated data capture is limited, we’ve provided an outline of some of the most effective automated data software and systems that will increase productivity and efficiency while reducing costs. 

Scanning

Scanning is the most basic form of automated data capture and it is the one that you are likely the most familiar with. If your company still operates with a paper-based system, then converting your paper documents into digital documents through scanning software will be the easiest approach to document management if you want to start small.

The scanning process begins when you place a paper document onto a printer or other device with scanning hardware. The software then captures an image of the paper document and converts it to an electronic document so that you can save it as a digital file on your desktop or in a network folder. 

This manual data capture process is most commonly used by HR in the onboarding process when new hire IDs and forms need to be processed and filed, but many companies also scan invoices in the Accounts Payable department. Once an invoice is scanned and saved into a digital space, it can be transported for approval via email which speeds up the invoicing process and cuts down on paper costs. 

If your company has a smaller volume of invoices and onboarding forms, then scanning automatic data capture is a great place to start to cut costs and take advantage of modern technology. However, if your company is larger and has significant room for growth in your AP KPIs, then you might want to look at more effective data capture systems below.

Barcoding

Barcoding invoices in batches is another form of automated data collection that can streamline your AP department’s invoicing process. The average person knows what a barcode is, we see them all the time in grocery stores and clothing shops, and they work in a very similar way on the B2B side. 

Barcodes are coded with key data elements like the vendor name, address, ID number, and more. These barcodes are placed on invoices so that they can be scanned with automated data capture software for a more accurate data transfer. Barcoding removes a lot of room for human error by eliminating manual data entry.

This hybrid system is a good step for businesses to take when they are looking for more automated data capture methods that will save time and money. Still, it is important to note that barcoding still requires a significant amount of paper and manual labor to scan the barcodes. The automatic data capture process that you chose depends on the size of your company and its goals but scanning and barcoding are still great first steps.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Optical character recognition, or OCR, is a groundbreaking automated data collection software that extracts necessary data on documents for processing. When used in invoice processing, OCR automatically collects data like the invoice number, vendor name, line totals, address, and copies it into the software for smoother and more accurate processing. 

While it may take a staff member a larger block of time to manually input invoice data into a system, OCR software like AP automation will capture and copy data in seconds. Staff members can be free from repetitive tasks that are error-prone and instead focus their talents on more necessary productivity and business goals.

OCR technology has allowed for advancements used in healthcare, government, education, and finance organizations and so many more. Processes are faster and more accurate with automated data collection that can be “taught” and developed to classify, copy, and secure a high volume and variety of documents.

Intelligent Character Recognition, or ICR, is another automated data capture software that falls under the umbrella of OCR. ICR uses capture automation to convert handwritten forms and documents into electronic text. This automation solution is very beneficial and cost-effective in your efforts to digitize company documents.

Intelligent Data Capture (IDC)

Intelligent Data Capture, or IDC, is the most effective data capture system and software because it does everything that OCR can do, while also employing workflow automation. IDC removes almost every step of manual processing once the software learns your company’s document processing system. Intelligent and accelerated processing speeds leave staff with simple tasks like clicking “approve” while everything else from inputting to classifying to validating and verifying is done for you with workflow automation and automated data collection software and tools.

IDC can also handle a larger number of documents, forms, or invoices than OCR. The technology can even automatically share data with staff members who need to give a stamp of approval which speeds up business processes and cuts the cost of paper, postage, labor, and other common costs.

IDC also allows for different tools, features, and settings that can be optimized for your organization’s unique needs. For example, the automated processing software can be set to only capture key data like vendor ID number and line total and disregard irrelevant data with document templates. 

IDC and AP Automation

Intelligent Data Capture technology is used in AP automation to speed up invoice processing and eliminate human errors in data entry that can cause faulty or duplicate payments. AP automation software integrates smoothly with your current systems for an easy transition and it creates a more productive invoice processing workflow. 

AP automation fixes the invoice approval process by filtering out duplicate invoices and preventing overpayments with intelligent document recognition that compares an invoice to a PO automatically. AP automation with IDC also offers increased visibility across the AP department with easy ways to search for documents on one platform by key data.

In today’s digital age, there will continue to be more reasons to automate B2B payments and take advantage of automated data software and tools. The future of accounts payable and so many other business procedures will soon look back at the use of paper and manual processes and laugh at how much money and time was wasted.

As advances continue in modern digital technology that is built for our benefit, don’t let your company get left behind in a pile of paper documents, physical checks, and snail-mail. Choosing an automation solution will save the planet, your pockets, and your sanity!

For more information on how to integrate IDC and AP Automation into your business processes, Contact Us today.

Mosaic Client interview with Felicia Blake

Like most people, until you’ve seen it for yourself, you think it’s a great idea – in theory.
Proclamations and do-gooder intents are simply that without full implementation.

That’s exactly what Felicia Blake thought. Having worked in Accounting for over a decade, she’s heard of other companies offering paperless solutions that never quite fully delivered. She admitted to being skeptical after working with several companies in the past. They claimed and even attempted integration, but, in the end, there was still paper. Maybe a little less paper, but still paper that had to be physically managed, secured, and stored.

Blake shares that her days before Mosaic consisted of “scanning and scanning and scanning and scanning.” Each invoice had to be scanned into the T-Drive. She felt like half of her day was spent standing at the copy machine scanning in invoices so that they could eventually be processed. The scanning was necessary to access the “paperless” system that the company was using. “Today I hardly scan anything,” she says.

Most people say they embrace change, but Blake’s team did experience some pushback at the beginning. A few senior managers were used to bringing their signed documents to her desk with their signatures for processing. They didn’t want to open the platform and apply their e-signature, but once they realized the DocStar platform was loaded onto their computers and they walked through the two-minute process, they were sold.

The secret that Blake keeps is that DocStar has streamlined her workday so much that it doesn’t feel like work. For instance, last week, her boss asked her for a report on one of their vendors from 2019 – Current 2020. In the past, Blake would create an Excel spreadsheet, pull the invoices from their files and begin month by month, transferring the information from the files to the spreadsheet. Then, after double-checking a few times, she could email her boss. With DocStar, she pulled up the business, accessed its information, pulled a report with the correct date parameters, hit enter, and DocStar did the rest. She says “Instead of scanning, scanning, scanning, I go click, click, click. I attached my custom report to an email, and done.”

Blake explains that this has freed up her day to concentrate on the big stuff like audits. She now has the time to prepare for the more important things that affect her company. “Now I pull up my dashboard every morning, and I know exactly where we stand with every vendor,” she says.

DocStar and the Pandemic

When Mosaic brought the DocStar system to Blake’s workplace, there was absolutely no way anyone could have known COVID-19 was on the horizon and the impact it would have on our lives and work.
Blake explains, “I was pregnant when my company considered DocStar. So, I call DocStar my second baby!” It’s one thing to sell us on the system, but another to overcome pushback. We were trained and educated on why and how this system was going to make our everyday lives easier. They listened to our pain points and then created and implemented a system customized with our needs in mind. Blake exclaims that “Our solution is completely ours.”

Her voice fills with emotion when she remembers that without DocStar in place, the change in the pandemic work environment would have presented challenges that would not have supported their team.

“Simply put, it would have been impossible for us to work from home. I would have had to enter the office every day because there are things about the traditional paper platform that you cannot do remotely.”

Blake went on to share that even simple things, such as receiving invoices in the mail, would have been difficult. Our team would have had to physically go into the office to retrieve invoices, scan them, and process them, putting everyone’s family at increased exposure during the pandemic.

According to Corp Magazine, a mere eighteen percent of companies consider themselves paperless, despite the given advances in technology today. Even though the cost of a ream of paper is cheaper than what it used to be, these savings are not translated across the board in managing the created document. Those costs include printer toners and maintenance, filing systems and, believe it or not, staples! These hidden costs can be as much as 31 times the paper’s cost with estimations at $8 billion that companies spend on paper management every year.

If you’re ready to take the paper out of your paperwork, give MOSAIC, the paperless process people, a call today.

Meet James Kingery: Fearless Captain of the Mosaic Ship

As captain of the U.S.S. Mosaic, along with his brother Ken, James Kingery has helped countless customers over the last three decades find their way to the right paperless solution. He brings in a wealth of experience to every project, working with small and mid-market organizations to improve their bottom line through process improvements, automation, and management and operations refinements. 

We sat down with the longtime Mosaic helmsman to get a sense of what drives him daily, the importance of a healthy work/life balance, and what his favorite part of the job is (hint: it has to do with helping clients).

Mosaic: What you love most about your job? 

Kingery: I love that it’s a new undertaking every day and that we are changing things up for businesses and helping them be successful, so it feels like there’s a lot of purpose behind what we do. The impact on our customers and their operation is incredible. You feel more like their partner in what they do than a vendor. 

Mosaic: How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now?

Kingery: He probably wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about! (Laughing) The concept of helping businesses become more productive by eliminating paper is easy to take in. But, laying the ground work can be very complicated unless you’ve been involved in a good many implementations.

If I were a 10-year-old, I probably wouldn’t even dream of what I do now. But where we’ve ended up is a pretty cool place. Software is becoming increasingly intelligent and intuitive, and the way it impacts individuals on a day-to-day basis is amazing.  The days of a person behind a desk covered with invoices waiting to be approved then entered to an ERP are behind us. . . That is, unless you work with Mosaic of course.

Mosaic: What was the first job you ever had, and what’s one thing you learned in that job?

Kingery: Does mowing lawns count? I think the first job where I really learned a lot about people was in college. I worked my way through school at a garage door company (Overhead Door). I learned about tools and people and inventory and how to organize your processes and be efficient. That was my first foray into looking under the hood of a business. You’re dealing with tickets and orders and getting the order right and customer satisfaction. Before then, I had no understanding of any of these things.

Mosaic: What initially got you interested in what you’re doing now with Mosaic?

Kingery: It was one accident after another over a long period of time. I started off in office products, but those didn’t look anything like they do today. It was typing and word processing, and computers were just coming onto the scene. So that’s unfortunately how old I am (laughing). Eventually, I ran across this software with the ability create and index paper documents into electronic form, and I thought that one day that’s going to be huge. 

Once we got into the paperless operation and, more specifically, enterprise content management (ECM), we began to meet with high-level organizations and strategically help them become more successful. Then it became increasingly interesting on many levels.

Mosaic: What professional achievement are you most proud of? 

Kingery: That we’ve been privately owned and operated for more than 30 years. And we’ve been a platinum partner in just about every relationship we’ve been in. We were a top performer with Xerox, a platinum partner with Epicor (ERP Solutions). Being relevant to our partners has been my greatest achievement.

Mosaic: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever gotten?

Kingery: “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” That one stuck with me. It’s all about experience and how you don’t gain as much when you win. You gain more when you lose and can learn from it.

Mosaic: How do you handle challenges and/or work stress?

Kingery: Sailing clears my mind and takes me away from it all. . . Hard to think about work when you are on the water.  We race on Lake Lanier every week, about 45 boats. We have fun. I work hard, we have a good team, and we all help each other and it’s kind of like team building and competition all in one. We also island hop the Caribbean in the Spring and Fall which is more fun than you can imagine.  So when I leave, I’m pretty good about keeping the work behind me and going and doing the next thing. I don’t carry it with me. 

Mosaic: What is the name of your boat?

Kingery: Sotally Tober. A lot of people tell me, “I don’t know how many people know your name but, everyone knows your boat!” (Laughs.)

Mosaic: What are two adjectives that your family and friends would use to describe you?

Kingery: Upbeat and optimistic.  Maybe a little competitive too because after all, if winning isn’t everything then why do they keep score?

Mosaic: Obviously, we won’t be traveling for a little while because of the pandemic. But it’s good to dream! Where is the next place on your travel bucket list, and why?

Kingery: We want to go sailing in the Mediterranean — Italy, Croatia. Over the years, we’ve been mostly sailing in the Caribbean. You know how people hike the Appalachian Trail and hike different pieces of it, so eventually, they get the whole thing? We’ve been doing that with the Caribbean Islands. We started with the Keys and over the years have worked our way down to Grenada’s southern end. We’ve visited great places and people over the years in and around Union Island, Mayeau, Bequia, St Vincent, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Belize etc. . . Hopefully we nip away the entire archipelago.

Mosaic: Who is one of your heroes?

Kingery: It may sound cliché, but I would say, my dad. In World War II, he fought in Germany and was captured there by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war. So he was in peril for his life. When General Patton came through, the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans just left the camps. So my dad and his buddies were just stumbled upon in their prison camp. When he came out of that, he was the best, kindest guy. He was always laughing, and he never raised his voice. He was always pleasant to be around.

Mosaic: What is the last thing that you read?

Kingery: I read about a book every 10 days; all of these adventure novels. It’s a genre that I can’t stop reading. Avenged in the Keys is what I’m reading right now on my Kindle. They’re all kind of like drug interdiction or bad guys/good guys stories, set in the Caribbean. They’re all exciting and fun, with lots of boat chases and great characters. It’s a way to disappear and relax and let your mind go to some other place. I wake up every morning and read. I read every night going to bed. 

Mosaic: It seems appropriate that you have a Kindle rather than lots of printed books sitting around, given Mosaic’s specialty.

Kingery: Yes, and I used to have so many books! Two things I like: First, that it’s handheld and it’s right there. So if you fall asleep reading, instead of having to spend 10 minutes finding where you were, it comes right back to the page you were at. And second, I always like to look up words that I don’t know while I’m reading – and you can look it up right then and there.

Mosaic: What’s a talent or interest that isn’t on your resume? 

Kingery: I have a woodshop and make saw dust off an on. We also ride bikes a lot. Manning and I enjoy cycling in different parts of town, stopping into pubs and breweries and getting a feel for the area. You see a lot of things that you don’t see driving through, so going into shops and eating locally is fun for us.  Other than that, we sail and work a lot.

Mosaic: What actor (or other famous figure) would you want to narrate a movie about your life? 

Kingery: Morgan Freeman could make anyone sound interesting.

Kiss Paper Forms Goodbye!

Your Top 5 AP Automation “Must-Haves” for the New Year

For your business, the must-have for 2015 is AP Automation. On the ERP Software Blog, we’ve discussed Developing an ERP Strategy for Long Term Success, how to Gain Support for Automating Your AP Process in 5 Easy Steps and Preventing AP Automation Disaster with the Right Strategy and Planning.

In each of these blogs, I’ve highlighted how utilizing the right strategies for investigating, implementing and integrating AP Automation software can result in the best outcomes not only in managing your AP, but also in your overall ERP performance.

Now that you are ready to delve into selecting the right AP Automation software for your business, here are the top 5 “must-haves” for your wish list:

In just 4 minutes, learn how you can work more productively this year!

Stretch Armstrong Flexibility 

Remember how flexible Stretch could be? Pretty amazing.  If anything is certain in technology, it is how systems and devices are constantly in flux. Any new system you purchase – whether AP Automation or an ERP, you need to make sure your vendors are up to date with the latest and greatest – and are building systems that can accommodate new and emerging mobile technology.

DocStar AP Automation