The evolution of the digital accounting department has been a gradual process, but one that has significantly improved efficiency and accuracy in the field.
In the past, the process of filing paper documents was a time-consuming and error-prone task. This was due to the fact that all documents had to be physically filed and retrieved, which often led to misplacement or loss of important documents. Apart from random mis-filing I recall a company called John Barry which supplied camera consumables. Was it filed under J or B? We started printing the vendor code on the cheques so our filers could use this and add to the drop folder with the same vendor code printed on it. Better, but still not fool-proof.
Eclipse progressed to individually scanning and attaching each document in the accounting system. This required document scanners on most desks to make this workflow as efficient as possible but still slowed things down at the data entry point. Productions using software unable to attach a scan created their own digital filing system on a network drive or web folder. The problem was there was no connect between the accounting system and the document and suffered from the same problems of a paper filing system where users could drop the scan into the wrong suppliers folder.
Eclipse then progressed to barcode scanning technology – as you enter an invoice, you stick on a barcode sticker and enter the barcode number into the invoice entry screen. This avoided us having to individually scan every invoice. You could scan an entire batch of cheques with invoices, orders and backup attached through a copier with scanner and upload one file to Eclipse. Eclipse would take care of splitting these into individual invoices and cheques and attaching to the accounting record. We also built in a scan check to make sure every transaction had a document attached. It was fast and worked really well. The biggest problem occurred when the barcode could not be read either due to poor resolution during scanning or smudging of the barcode due to poor printing. Barcodes provided a way to track and organize documents, ensuring that they were filed correctly and in the right place. This greatly reduced the chances of misplacement or loss of important documents.
However, barcode scanning or manually attaching and matching documents still presented challenges. As more suppliers started emailing PDF copies of their invoices we needed a way to get them into our system and then be able to digitally approve them without printing and scanning them. This is where Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology comes in and solves two problems. By being able to drag and drop an invoice or email it to DPF, our system uses OCR technology to add the invoice to the batch, entering key information like supplier, invoice number, invoice date, due date, amount, VAT/GST and purchase order# and attaching a copy of the invoice. This has eliminated the need for manual attaching and has improved the accuracy of data entry. This allows accounts payable to process invoices 10x faster.
The latest development in this field is the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. This allows the extraction of data like invoice number from the documents to be much more accurate. The OCR system that has been seamlessly integrated into DPF can identify key information within invoices, bills, and other financial documents, reducing data entry time and improving accuracy.
Once the documents are automatically uploaded into DPF and checked by accounts, they can be sent for approval and digitally signed by department heads to production executives. The documents never leave our system and can always be viewed by accessing the original accounting transaction.
Overall, the evolution of the digital accounting department from filing and manual attaching to the use of OCR technology has greatly improved efficiency and accuracy in the production accounting field. By reducing the need for manual procedures and improving the accuracy of document matching, technology has made it easier for production accounting professionals to focus on more important tasks.
The biggest advantage of this process is having it all integrated via a single product. There is not disconnect, double entry and additional costs running your production accounting system and a separate digital document store.