Driving innovation in document automation
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Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is used to enable electronic B2B communication. The software converts documents into a digital format by scanning and digitising information from printed documents, images or handwritten text. Below we explore the features of OCR, how it works and assess the software’s suitability for reducing paper workload by processing documents automatically in an ever-changing business world.
OCR is a technology that enables you to convert different types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files or images captured by a digital camera into editable and machine-readable data. For example, instead of retyping a written text manually, you can convert all the required materials into a digital format within several minutes using a scanner (or a digital camera) and Optical Character Recognition software.
In procurement, buyers mainly use OCR for scanning and digitising information from, for example, printed invoices or purchase order confirmations. After capturing the documents, buyers incorporate the data into the downstream systems.
Using OCR software involves three steps:
Step 1: Pre-processing the document image
Step 2: Character Recognition
Step 3: Post-processing the document image
OCR systems are generally quite expensive due to the need for scanning software, training, materials and ongoing staffing costs. Further, the technology is typically inaccurate, and mistakes are common.
Images produced by a scanner consume significant amounts of memory space, leading to an increase in recurring fees. Further, these images lose quality during the scanning and digitising process. This loss of image quality contributes to some of the common errors that occur during OCR, including:
Read here about the importance of data quality in procurement.
As a result, all documents need to be checked carefully by a human and then manually corrected. This labour-intensive process takes valuable time away from team members.
Modern enterprises benefit from an extensive network of business partners. Typically, these business partners use unique formatting for their documents, and OCR systems are limited in their ability to handle these deviations. In addition, infrequently made purchases generate documents that the system can’t process since those business partners are often not familiar with the requirements of the document recognition system.
OCR is an expensive software solution that helps to reduce the paper workload. However, it lacks the data quality, flexibility and reliability of more sophisticated technologies. While OCR certainly offers advantages to manual data entry, the disadvantages often outweigh the benefits. Since OCR is highly limited in its use, it can increase manual workload to check and solve errors.
However, seamless B2B workflows, automated exchange of data and documents and digitised document flows are the pillars of modern procurement.
So is there an alternative?
The Netfira Platform offers a unique alternative to ORC solutions for automating B2B purchasing processes and digitising document flows.