Neil Robertson Aug 9, 2016 10:32:00 AM 6 min read

Considering OCR for invoice automation?

Stop before you make a terrible mistake!

OCR stands for “Optical Character Reader” and refers to the ability to scan a paper invoice and convert the paper into digital information. Most OCR solution claim a circa 90% accuracy – or put another way, only 10% of the information is either wrong or missing.

So why should you avoid this approach for invoice processing? There are three primary reasons:

What’s the impact of introducing more technology into the invoicing and  purchasing process? Download our free white paper to find out.

  1. The growth of PDF invoices sent via email: There is no paper.

You probably already get more than half your invoices this way. If you ask your suppliers to send their invoices this way, you will get to 90% of all invoices arriving as a PDF as it is standard functionality for every accounting / ERP solution. It saves the supplier at least a £1 for every invoice they generate, the invoice never gets lost in the post and it arrives within seconds of being generated.

A PDF is an electronic document containing all the data required to render a readable copy. Unlike OCR, capturing data from a PDF to generate an “e-Invoice” is 100% accurate, every time.

The goal is to get rid of paper; so why invest in a technology that is founded on there being paper.

  1. OCR requires a lot of your resources to “teach it” to read each supplier’s invoice

Every user of OCR will tell you that at least half of the savings you make in accounts payable through implementing OCR are consumed by the process of onboarding suppliers and dealing with the 10% of error the process generates.

A far better approach is to get someone else to do the onboarding and supplier validation for you, especially if they are also doing it for many other organizations. With a centralized onboarding service, each on boarded supplier is immediately available to every other customer of this service.

This approach saves everyone a huge amount of time and is also reflected in the much lower cost of processing an invoice.

Which is why many users of OCR are upgrading to the next generation of technology and dumping OCR.

  1. e-Invoicing as a Service

You can receive 100% of your invoices in formatted XML data, with the PDF invoice attached with almost no effort at all.

Simply ask your suppliers to adopt sending their invoices via email as a PDF, or if they already do this, change the email address they send it to. That is it.

Compleat captures all of the invoices, on boards suppliers, converts them to XML, with the PDF attached, validates the accuracy of the transaction and delivers it electronically to our invoice automation application (CompleatInvoice) or any other application you nominate.

For the balance of paper invoices, you simply scan them on receipt and email them as well and our service processes them.

OCR for invoice automation is a dead technology. It is to resource intensive, too slow, too inaccurate and too expensive. But don’t take our word for it, just investigate what is now possible.

Transform your purchasing and accounts payable through automation. Download our white paper and discover how e-invoicing can improve your efficiency, reduce costs and increase visibility.


Neil Robertson

Neil has a 39-year track record of building successful direct and channel global software businesses predominately in the financial software market place. Neil Robertson is Executive Chairman of Compleat Software. A 39-year veteran of the financial software marketplace, Neil has a long track record of building disruptive start-ups into successful businesses, including his time as CEO EMEA of Great Plains where he built the business outside of the USA from 1995 - 2001. Compleat is no exception and perhaps the most disruptive of them all.
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