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OCR Technology: The End of Manual Data Entry

PairSoft January 26, 2023

Man using OCR on mobile phone to capture receipt data
AP Automation
Blog
For years and years — including this year, in the 2020s — finance and business teams the world over have had to contend with manually entering data from paper documents and even scanned documents into their digital systems, whether an ERP or other database.

It begs the question of why such an archaic, time-consuming process would survive alongside such high-tech software, sort of like buying a new Ferrari that only takes cassette tapes. But the thing is, data-entry automation technology does exist for ERPs in the form of OCR software. So why aren’t more teams using this one-click data extraction tool to limit the time and money wasted by manual document processing?

The likely culprit is a lack of awareness on OCR systems in combination with a lack of OCR products that are proportionate to their value. As PairSoft unveils its upgraded OCR engine at the time of writing — with up to 100% accuracy, 5x the speed on scanning documents, and the strongest AI on the market with Microsoft Azure — we’re doing a brief explainer on why OCR data processing is mutually exclusive with becoming a top-performing financial team.

What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

OCR boils down to technology that converts an image of text — whether a hardcopy document, PDF file, JPG image, email body, etc. — into a machine-readable text format that data can then automatically be extracted from. Sort of like a scanner, but with the added technology of fully digitizing your documents and image files without you having to go to one folder, go to the other, and take more unnecessary clicks in addition to any unnecessary data entry, which it also fully automates.

A simple example: You want to add a scanned image (JPG) of an invoice to your ERP so that all the invoice data can be stored there for your team to access. All you do is click your OCR workflow (they’re usually out-of-the-box, no configuration necessary), select the JPG file, and done — the app does the rest, extracting the data, validating it against any flags it’s learned from your system, and indexing the final information within your ERP for team access (PairSoft also encrypts the information in-transit and at-rest).

After that first click, there’s no human intervention, and — more importantly — no human error.

Popular OCR Use Cases

Apart from the simplified example above, one of the most popular OCR use cases is for financial departments looking to optimize their near constant data entry, regardless of their sector (e.g., healthcare, nonprofit, retail, B2B, etc.). The commonality is that any business with a cashflow-connected ERP is often dealing with information across digital formats, hardcopies, digital images, simple emails, and even handwritten checks. An OCR solution integrated within their ERP is the only product that streamlines all these document types so that their business processes within their ERP remain rock-solid regardless of any chaos that happens outside of it.

Another top way many teams employ OCR is as an alternative to the standard tech within their ERP. While many major ERPs provide the impressive functionality necessary to scale a business, some have had to invest development dollars into functions other than data extraction and document storage, which is where integrated OCR software comes in. A good example of this is the Blackbaud Attachment function, which can be useful for nonprofit fundraising but which still requires manual intervention and search queries. For this reason, many organizations relying on Blackbaud often pair it with PairSoft’s OCR, which captures Attachment functionality and all additional data before indexing it back into Blackbaud for retrieval with high-powered elastic search.

How OCR Uses Machine Learning

High-powered OCR engines are high-powered for a reason: They’re autonomously learning as they go, using artificial intelligence to find patterns within your documents and workflows that they can beef up their algorithms with.

While this type of pattern recognition is frightening in TV series and films, we promise that your OCR will not overtake your ERP to become HAL 9000. Rather, the software is becoming an automation tool tailored to your team and business so that it remains more and more hands-off, yet more and more helpful with intelligent character recognition that you can count on while you focus on more strategic projects.

The Importance of Data Capture in Your ERP

The bottom line? Most post-pandemic companies can’t afford the pre-pandemic margins for error and time wasting. Whether your company consists of multinational locations or two global, in-person outposts, most businesses today need real-time access to the same documents and records as their colleagues, which is precisely why most businesses use ERPs.

Similarly, many people just aren’t tethered to a desk anymore. OCR’s one-click capture is optimized for iPhone and Android use, providing a realistic way for users to leverage multiple tools with the same quick results.

By adding OCR to the digital hub of your workforce, you can ensure that your business won’t be driving the proverbial cassette Ferrari and struggling with growth.

If you’re seeking a natively integrated OCR engine with transparent pricing, unlimited document storage, and the strongest AI on the market, get a free demo from PairSoft today.

PairSoft

The strongest AP automation, document management, procurement, and fundraising automation platform for mid-market and enterprise companies with integrations to your ERP system.

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