Complete document automation – increasingly business critical - Image by FreepikMuch has been written about the importance of internal document digitisation and automation with the significant improvement in operational efficiencies it brings to organisations worldwide. The last few years has seen it quickly cement itself as vital for business efficiencies, productivity, and the knock-on effect of this on a business’s bottom line.

The automation of internal processes and operations is vital. However, we need to pay cognizance to the equal importance of ensuring that these same efficiencies are implemented across both inbound and outbound documents and processes.

Manually retrieving data from inbound documents and entering it into your company’s ERP system can be tedious and time-consuming. Smart data extraction can empower your organisation. It can help it to shift from manual processing to a more efficient system,  becoming increasingly smarter over time.

But first – let’s take a closer look at ‘inbound’ ‘documents

Simply put, inbound documents are documents that a business receives from an external source. Two key examples that form a vital part of any organisation’s operations are the receipt of invoices and customer orders. The automation of these is essential for increased workflow speed and data entry accuracy.


Traditionally, the manual input of invoices is time-intensive, error-prone and involves multiple steps. The invoice, received from the supplier or vendor, is manually captured into the organisation’s back-end infrastructure or ERP system. This is then followed by its manual approval and subsequent payment.

The very real risk are bottlenecks, the propensity for human error, and long timelines. The result is delayed payments that can damage existing supplier or vendor relationships.

A staggering 71% of companies report manual data entry and incompetent Accounts Payable (AP) processes as crucial pain points. Hence the need for automation of the AP function. This sees as many as 52% of businesses, that have implemented it, experiencing an approval turnaround of 4 days or less.

Customer Orders

The same is as valid when it comes to customer orders. Manually entering just one customer order into an ERP system can take more than 4 minutes. Multiply that by the countless customer orders many organisations process daily. The reality – once again, time-intensive processes that are a huge drain on an organisation’s resources. This is compounded by the very real risk of human error and the gross inefficiencies it brings.

Customers are the lifeblood of any organisation. The nurturing of these relationships are key to a business’s growth and bottom-line. Automation of the customer order process is critical for the effective management of these relationships. It reduces errors and saves both time and costs in addition to an overall improvement in efficiencies and productivity.

The how is as important as the why!

To OCR or …

For many years Optimal Character Recognition (OCR) has been the preferred solution. It enables the analysing of printed characters such as shapes of words or characters on a received or ‘inbound’ document (e.g., pdf invoice) to extract machine-readable data.

However, it is no longer enough.

OCR on its own is not able to identify characters with high accuracy. As a result, it can be highly error prone. OCR systems may misread or have difficulty identifying certain letters or characters such as confusing the number ‘0’ with the capital ‘O’ in as many as 20% of all documents processed. Therefore, the use of OCR can lead to the creation of unnecessary errors, the handling of which is time-consuming. This runs counter to the goals of increasing efficiency and productivity by automating processes.

The power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Combined with AI and machine learning, OCR marks a real turning point for companies. It allows them to analyse documents with a more than 95% confidence rate! Document processing becomes faster and more secure by minimising human intervention and ensuring data integrity.

The combination of AI and robotic process automation (RPA) gives rise to intelligent process automation (IPA). This makes it possible to automate even more complex processes.

IPA solutions can process both semi-structured data (e.g., purchase orders, invoices, etc.) and unstructured data (e.g., email, etc.). It enables organisations to extract the relevant data irrespective of the format in which the inbound document is received. The data is then automatically converted into a format that is understood and easily integrated into the organisation’s ERP system.

The value?

Complete traceability throughout the Accounts Payable function. This, in turn, enables two or even three-way document comparison. Invoices are easily validated against the original purchase orders and/or delivery notes. In the case of customer orders – seamless integration into a company’s ERP system brings several consequential benefits.

  • Orders are now fulfilled within a far quicker turnaround time.
  • Essential stock levels are far more easily managed to enable proactive stock management. This results in increased efficiencies.
  • Increases productivity, thus allowing employees to focus on higher-value tasks.
  • Reduces operational costs and risks through the elimination of manual entry.
  • Ensures regulatory compliance through automation, including respect for data privacy and financial regulation.
  • Improves customer experience and satisfaction.

The devil is in the detail

Be sure to choose a paperless solution that includes OCR technology combined with AI and RPA and one that allows you to:

  • Streamline business processes
    • Make document and data access freely available.
    • Improve traceability between various departments or sites with relevant metadata recovery and proof files.
  • Save time and reduce manual errors
    • Eliminate the processing times associated with manual re-entry.
    • Guarantee data accuracy by extracting directly from received documents and integrating into your IT system.
    • Ensure optimal recognition rates using a combination of Optimal Character Recognition (OCR) with AI and Machine Learning.
  • Improve customer and supplier relations
    • Speed up Order to Cash and Purchase to Pay cycles through integration between IT or ERP systems.
    • Work with existing third party or other external setups without the need for changes.


Fact! Manually entering all external or ‘inbound’ documents into your existing ERP system is a considerable waste of time for all. Consequently, Symtrax has integrated Microsoft Azure Form Recognizer, powered by artificial intelligence, to address this problem. Using Machine Learning, data from any document can be extracted and integrated automatically.

Symtrax offers a technology combining OCR, AI, and Machine Learning. Contact us today to learn exactly how you can collect all relevant data from an incoming document, thereby transforming your organisation into one that is data-driven!


At Symtrax, we help businesses accelerate their transition towards the digital future they envision and need!

We realise that digital transformation is about so much more than simply upgrading a single piece of technology for one process. The combined effort of multiple technologies able to work together, albeit on disparate systems, is what truly contributes towards effective (and holistic) digital transformation. And it is here where the value, and the sweet spot, lies.

Our collaborative approach allows organisations to harvest the most out of their resources, improving efficiencies without comprising security. Using automation, our document management services help to reduce manual dependencies – making data management easier (cloud and on-premises).

Further, our direct integration with ERPs (API-based) ensures a direct communication channel with the system, delivering automated data conversion that allows you to toggle between the data formats best suited to your business processes.

Our solution is powered with RPA capabilities and an integrated modern EDI solution for standard-specific document transmission.

As your business grows, scale your initiatives to match your changing requirements – maximising the value of digital document transformation,


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