Most of you will have heard the expression; “you only get out what you put in”.
For most of us, this has been applied to our working lives, or perhaps our relationships, but the onus is always the same, if you do more, you get more.
Most of you will have seen videos and articles from an enormous range of entrepreneurs over the years pushing the boundaries of working hours. From Elon Musk to Bill Gates to Gary Vaynerchuck, all of them claiming the same, work harder, work smarter, clock the hours, reap what you sow etc.
Similarly the expression “you only get out what you put in” applies to far more mundane and day to day areas of business, and very nicely answers the question I have posed in the title of this piece; is capture the key to automation?
Capture rates used to drive the automation conversation.
On a personal level, I have been directly involved in this industry now for a number of years, and it seems to me that the importance of capture rates seems to have been usurped as new technologies have vied for column inches.
It is not lost on me that I have been guilty of this myself in content that I have created and edited in the last 12 months.
Over the last 12 months ITESOFT UK have been creating some great thought led articles, but capture rarely seems to have been included in this, let alone a focus, in fact only two articles spring to mind. And yet here I am asking is capture the key to automation?
When I compare this to the conversations that I was having with organisations 4 or 5 years ago, I remember that capture rates were often central to the discussion, if not a vital element of any projects looking into Automation.
In fact, the question then wasn’t “is capture the key to automation?”, it was more likely to be “how do we get better capture rates?”.
More recent news has focused on technology trends.
As I have already mentioned, more recently the news in our space has been heavily focusing on technologies that are impacting further down the line of Automation.
There is no doubting that these advances, amongst many others, have fundamentally changes the way in which we look at solutions and applications across an organisation.
In fact, these technologies are vital for any organisation that is seriously trying to future proof themselves and embrace the tenants of Industry 4.0.
Measuring the benefits at multiple points of the process, yet the same issue is really still there. How can you generate the benefits of these technologies if you cannot get the data in to start with?
Using automation to remove the most time consuming and tedious tasks.
After all, if you are looking at automating any back office function, let alone Accounts Payable, the chances are that one of the biggest drivers is removing as much of the manual, time consuming, tedious tasks as possible.
And why wouldn’t it be? By doing this you are most easily able to highlight real term benefits of using technology, boost your staff moral and deliver real benefit to your business.
Let’s be honest now, manually typing data from an invoice into an ERP is pretty much the most time consuming, tedious task that you can be asking your AP team to do. Yet, this is the very beginning of the process when it comes to paying your suppliers in good time.
Logically speaking then, if getting the information into your systems is the first step of the process, and is one of the most painful things to do manually, then ensuring that you can capture as much of this information, in an automated way, is the most important step.
Everyone claims to capture everything…
And this is likely why the importance of capture is often overlooked today.
But, if you have a solution already in place to capture your supplier invoices how much information is actually being captured? Honestly…
Capture rates of 100% are incredibly hard to achieve, even assuming you have 100% of your suppliers sending you a digital record. And this alone is virtually impossible to get to.
The reality for most organisations using this technology is that they actually capture somewhere between 50% and 70% of the data that is available. I am not referring to the percentage of invoices that are processed with no manual touch, just the data.
For example, how many fields does a capture solution offer to actually recognise and extract? 5? 10? And who determines what these fields are? This becomes particularly relevant as these solutions move to the cloud and a “one size fits all” mentality is adopted.
What benefit does it bring increasing capture rates from 50% to 70%, or 70% to 85%?
I am not going to go into huge amounts of detail here, after all the numbers are going to vary from company to company… Invoice volume to invoice volume etc. etc.
But if we try and keep it very simple, let’s say you have a solution in place so you have reduced your manual touch points by 70%, which is no mean feat for most organisations and solutions.
Now you aim to increase this from 70% to 85% this means that you would achieve a real world reduction in manual touch points of 50%, and of course this means a reduction in 50% of the manual labour that is still being carried out by your AP team.
Is it worth investing into applications that can deliver this?
Well ultimately that is up to you.
If you still have 3 or 4 people (if not more) who’s primary job is to manually correct, validate and manage supplier invoices you can clear 50% of each of their time to focus on higher value added tasks.
For me, I would say it is something that should be very seriously considered for any organisation that truly wants to future proof themselves, and invest in their teams.
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