Tips and Tricks for Improving Supplier Extraction with Inspyrus Invoice Automation

Tips and Tricks for Inspyrus

Tips and Tricks for Improving Supplier Extraction with Inspyrus Invoice Automation

By: Karla Broadrick | Technical Architect

The Inspyrus Invoice Automation solution utilizes WebCenter Forms Recognition (WFR) to identify the supplier on an invoice. WFR extracts the supplier by identifying all of the addresses on the invoice image. It then uses a fuzzy matching algorithm to compare the addresses on the invoice to those in the supplier pool generated from the ERP vendor data.

If WFR is able to confidentially identify the vendor associated with the invoice, it will be identified in the Inspyrus UI with no further verification needed by the end user. If, however, WFR is not confident it has identified the correct vendor, the end user will be required to review and validate or correct the chosen vendor in the Inspyrus UI.

In many years of implementing this tool, supplier extraction is consistently one of the most common reasons an invoice must be corrected. Fortunately, there is usually an explanation for the issue that can be resolved. In this article, we explore tips and tricks to diagnose and correct supplier extraction failures.

1. Poor Image quality

Image quality is critical to successful extraction of any field in WFR. If the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) fails to recognize the text of the vendor address correctly, this can cause the supplier to not be recognized. Image quality issues can usually be addressed by enforcing the following guidelines for images: images should be 300 dpi, black and white (not greyscale). They should be original images (not copies of previously printed images or electronically printed images). They should contain little to no handwriting.

2. Duplicate Supplier Addresses

In the ERP, there are multiple entries of the same address across different suppliers, supplier sites, and/or operating units. WFR is unable to distinguish which address is the “correct” one since all addresses are the same. All addresses are assigned the same confidence level and they system is unable to determine which should be chosen. In this case, supplier maintenance is needed to clean up supplier sites. Each supplier site should be a unique pay site address. Additionally, determining the operating unit at the point of ingestion can help with this issue.

3. Supplier Addresses too similar to the invoice Bill To or Ship To address

Typically the Bill To and Ship To addresses on an invoice are internal addresses. These are required to be excluded from the supplier pool that is used to processed general invoices. The query to the WFR view xx_ofr_suppliers_v should be modified so that ONLY external suppliers are included. Typically this is done by filtering on the vendor type and excluding those with a type of “Internal”. However, any criteria can be defined in the view. Often, supplier maintenance is needed to correctly categorize internal suppliers as such.

If Intercompany invoices are processed this will require additional configuration so that they are properly recognized.

4. ERP supplier address does not match the address on the invoice

The supplier address in the ERP system does not match any of the addresses listed by the vendor on the invoice (either in the header or the Remit To address). The best way to address this is to correct the address for the vendor in the ERP system so that it accurately reflects the invoice.

5. Remit to address is outside the address zone

This problem can be the most difficult to resolve.

OOTB, WFR only looks at vendor addresses on the first page of the image. This cannot be changed, it is mandatory that the vendor address must be on the first page of the document. This means that the first page of the image must be the first page of the invoice. Any supporting documents such as shipping documents, etc should be (if at all possible) attached to the record directly in Inspyrus instead of emailed in with the invoice image. If they must be included in the same image as the invoice, they should be placed after the invoice.

In addition to the first page requirement, WFR only looks at preconfigured zones of the first page to identify the vendor address. It does not look at the entire page. OOTB, WFR looks at the top 25% and bottom 20% of the page. While it is possible to modify this zone, it is advised to do so with extreme caution. Changing these recommended settings can have unintended side effects across the larger sampling of vendor invoices.

6. Supplier name found in the ERP database is very different from that found on the invoice

The vendor extraction performs a “fuzzy match” against name and address information found in the ERP database against what is found on the invoice. However, if the supplier name is drastically different this can cause the extraction to fail to have enough confidence to extract a valid match. Updating the supplier name in the ERP to match the invoice should resolve this issue.

Learn more about Invoice Automation in the Cloud for Oracle ERP by signing up to attend a 30 minute TekTalk webinar hosted by TekStream Wednesday June 21st at 1:00 EST.

Having trouble identifying the cause of your supplier extraction issues? Contact TekStream for assistance.

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4 Accounts Payable Challenges that can be Overcome with a True Automation Solution

4 Accounts Payable Challenges that can be Overcome with a True Automation Solution

By: William Phelps | Senior Technical Architect

If a tree falls in the woods, does the paper from that tree end up as a paper invoice in your company’s mailroom?  Or worse, does this paper find its way from the mailroom to someone’s desk in accounts payable, only to wait… and wait… and wait for an action?

Does that falling tree make a sound? Most likely yes.  It’s the sound of your early payment discounts floating away or the screams of yet another late payment charge. Accoutns payable challenges are a real problem. Learn more about challenges in the accounts payable process below.

Unfortunately, many companies experience the same accounts payable challenges:

  • While your particular business processes have evolved and progressed, your accounts payable methodology may still rely heavily on paper.
  • Paper dependency exists even though companies have an ERP system (or multiple ERP systems, such as E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, and JD Edwards) that are supposed to handle the accounts payable process in an efficient manner.
  • Employees may only be proficient in one system and not others.
  • Other employees need to process or approve invoices, but they don’t have ERP authorization.

Maintaining the accounts payable methodology the same way “it’s always been done” is a risk.

Inspyrus Invoice Automation offers an improved user experience and rich toolset to streamline invoice data entry, focusing on the automation of invoice data input.  This high level of automation will lower the number of data elements keyed, which in the end reduces the number of possible clerical errors.

Investments previously made in other areas of your business can be leveraged.

  • Integration points, based on standard defined points within your ERP, quickly retrieve the purchase order and vendor information. From there, it will match the data to the invoice often before a user has any visible interaction with the invoice.
  • Any current validation routines present in your ERP are honored, as data is validated before its delivery to the ERP for ingestion.
    • For example, a PeopleSoft voucher is not created until the data can be validated against your specific PeopleSoft implementation. The validation process occurs in real time, using web services to quickly determine data accuracy.  This is a huge leap forward in processing efficiency.
  • Any existing approval hierarchies from the ERP can be reused for workflow approvals which can often be simply approved via email.
  • Your existing corporate security model and infrastructure can be used to enforce authentication and authorization of invoice information.
  • Invoice related documentation can be attached to the invoice, and subsequently viewed in the ERP.

Inspyrus understands that no ERP is ever deployed simply “out of the box.”  It is likely that your ERP is no different than others except for specific changes tailored towards your business.  The Inspyrus API takes these scenarios into account and offers a way to dovetail the software to your exact ERP.

While the debate rages about whether a tree falling in the woods makes a sound or not, there’s no question about your accounts payable workflow needing an update.  Contact us today for some sound advice on turning your accounts payable system into an unrealized payday. You can also check out our previous Webinar about Inspyrus here.

Contact William or TekStream today to learn more about challenges in the accounts payable process.

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Inspyrus Enhanced Invoice Extraction

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Inspyrus Enhanced Invoice Extraction

By: Karla Broadrick | Technical Architect, WebCenter Imaging Team

Oracle WebCenter Forms Recognition is not a tool that is unique to the Inspyrus Solution.  WebCenter Forms Recognition (WFR) is a tool that has been around for many years.  WFR is a key component of how Oracle enables accounts payable automation because it provides intelligent classification and extraction of invoice metadata.  Key fields such as Invoice Date, Invoice Number, Supplier, PO Number as well as line items are intelligently recognized for a large number of suppliers based on a pre-trained set of invoices.

The Inspyrus solution utilizes WFR in a “black box mode.”  This means that invoices pass through WFR where the invoice metadata is extracted but instead of being routed to the Verifier application for correction, invoices do not stop in WFR but instead go directly to the Inspyrus UI.  It is there that invoices are able to be corrected, if needed, before being routed to the applicable ERP system.

What makes the Inspyrus solution’s use of WFR different than traditional solutions is that the out of the box WFR product has been enhanced to alleviate common problems and shortcomings experienced by a large number of WFR customers.  With these enhanced invoice extraction capabilities, the Inspyrus solution brings invoice automation to the next level, one of the many reasons the solution is considered the next generation in accounts payable automation.

One of the most basic examples that long time users of the WFR product can relate to is the extraction of the PO Number field.  The way that PO Number extraction typically works is that any number of PO masks can be configured in the INI file.  The masks can be as specific (TEK#####) or generic (6 digit number) as needed.  As a best practice, I advise customers to use PO masks that are as specific as possible.

If masks can be kept very specific and the number of them kept low, WFR typically does a pretty good job of finding the PO Number on the invoice, regardless of its location.  After the PO Number is extracted, it is then validated against the ERP database to ensure that it is a valid PO.  If it is not found in the database it is flagged as invalid and will require user correction.

Where problems arise is when business needs dictate that PO masks must be generic (######) or a large number of masks are required (as often happens in larger companies with multiple systems generating PO’s).  In these cases, WFR often does not do as good a job of correctly choosing the actual PO number.  Despite clear keywords such as “Purchase Order Number” that could contextually help locate the actual PO number, WFR will often incorrectly choose another value on the invoice that matches a mask but is nowhere near any labels that would indicate a PO Number.

The Inspyrus WFR solution addresses this issue by offering a routine that enhances the out of the box invoice automation by using contextual evidence to help identify the correct PO number from the possible candidates.

TekStream recently worked with a customer that faced both of these challenges.  The screen shots below illustrate the difference between the out of the box WFR extraction and the extraction results with the Inspyrus solution.  This is just one of the many examples of ways the Inspyrus solution takes accounts payables invoice automation to the next level.

Out of the box extraction: PO Number is chosen from the text under a barcode on the page that matches one of the many masks.  The number chosen has no context to suggest it is a PO number.

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Inspyrus extraction: PO Number is correctly chosen as the candidate following the label “P.O. #”

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Contact Karla Broadrick about the Inspyrus WFR Solution Today.

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Accounts Payable Automation in the Cloud

Accounts Payable Automation

Accounts Payable Automation in the Cloud

By: Mariano Romano | Senior Developer

Accounts Payable (AP) has always been a crucial part of business, but as accounting becomes more and more complex or as it increases in volume, we are forced to upgrade our hardware and software. These issues can be easily solved when using an AP solution in the cloud.

What is AP Automation in the Cloud?

AP Automation in the cloud provides AP solutions that are hosted on the Internet. The solution can be combined with an on-premise EBS system or a cloud EBS system. When using an on-premise EBS system, you can create a Site-to Site VPN connection to your internal EBS system. This allows for your EBS system to remain in-house while your AP solution resides in the cloud.

Benefits of AP Automation in the Cloud

There are many benefits to providing your accounts payable solution in the cloud and for cloud solutions in general, including reduced support and maintenance costs and increased speed of upgrade deployments.

  1. No hardware to purchase or maintain. By having your AP solution in the cloud, you do not have to provision hardware for the solution. Additionally, as your needs grow, you will not have to purchase additional hardware to support the extra load.
  2. No need to perform software upgrades. Since it is hosted in the cloud, the provider will be responsible for implementing any updates at an OS level or application level. This also allows you to have the latest version running much sooner than having to go through weeks of testing before performing an upgrade.
  3. No need to support the OS. Since the hardware is hosted, you are not responsible for the OS on the hardware. This eliminates the need to have an OS expert to support your AP Solution hardware.
  4. No need to support security patches at an OS or application level. All security related patches are supported by the hosting partner.

Areas of Concern

There are also some areas of concern in using AP Automation in the Cloud.

  • Is my data safe in the cloud? Of course! Just because it is in the cloud doesn’t mean anyone can log in and access your data. AP Solutions offer many layers of security to ensure your data is protected at all times.
  • Will my data be backed up? Yes! Most cloud solutions offer multiple levels of backup and redundancies including offsite backups.

Regardless of the benefits or areas of concern, AP Automation in the Cloud is slowly becoming the future of AP systems. As more solutions are available in the Cloud, companies will become more comfortable with the architecture in general and will trust moving their own AP Systems to the Cloud as well.

 

Contact Mariano Romano about AP Automation in the Cloud Today!

We're here to help!

 

Streamlining the Inspyrus Install Process with Apache Ant

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Streamlining the Inspyrus Install Process with Apache Ant

By: Marvin Martinez | Senior Developer

Introduction

The Inspyrus product has merits across the board, from the rich, UI front-end down to the way it is installed. In regards to installation, Inspyrus leverages Apache ant scripts to help streamline the installation process. The installation of Oracle products can be a complex and involved process. By using the ant scripts provided, Inspyrus helps assist with the installation pieces, which is a very welcome feature.

The use of ant during the installation is primarily beneficial for two key pieces of the installation:

  1. Oracle WebCenter software installs
  2. Deployment of Inspyrus-specific database objects, workflow objects, and supporting pieces

Once the file structure is set up and the silent-install.properties file is populated, the installation process for these pieces is transformed into a series of commands that can be executed in sequence, with limited deviation and free of tedious clicking, particularly in reference to the workflow process deployments.

Ant for Oracle WebCenter Software Installs

In order to use ant to install these pieces, the environment needs to be set so that it includes the applicable JAVA_HOME and the PATH includes the ant location. Once that is in place, the necessary response files, RCU, SOA, UCM, OSB, domain creation, and many necessary configuration tasks, including AD provider, data sources, and DBAdapter, are all installed and created with the usage of just a few ant commands.

The ability to execute and complete all these steps from one console session allows for added efficiency during these typically tedious steps. Moreover, the added automation during these steps allows for greater expectation of consistency across multiple installations.

Ant for Inspyrus Objects

Once the base installs are complete, the Inspyrus objects must be deployed. This includes business rules, metadata store (MDS), BPEL and BPM processes, as well as 12 other application deployments. Usually, these would be manually deployed via JDeveloper or Enterprise Manager. While straightforward, it makes for a rather monotonous set of mouse clicks for each of the 12 deployments, particularly for the BPEL processes and the updating of the BPEL preferences inside them. For these Inspyrus deployments, once the environment is primed with appropriate variables for JAVA_HOME and PATH, the commands are painless. All one needs to do is cd into the appropriate directories and execute “ant deploy”. In the case of the BPEL processes, the ant scripts handle the process deployment as well as any post-deployment configurations required, such as updating BPEL preferences to appropriate file paths and updating the supporting files to point to the appropriate OSB locations. The ant scripts also append the entityID of the customer to some of the workflow processes on the fly, eliminating another installer task that would normally be done manually. While there are some additional inputs for certain pieces, namely the MDS, business rules, and BPM processes, these are an unavoidable necessity that are not able to be automated but still made much easier via the use of these ant scripts. With an error-free deployment, these ant scripts drastically improve deployment times of these objects.

Conclusion

Installing Inspyrus involves many pieces that must be correctly installed and/or deployed. Leveraging the power of Apache ant scripts to complete these steps not only minimizes the risk for user-errors during these install steps, but also allows for greater consistency across installations and easier troubleshooting when errors arise. By making the installation smoother and more efficient, these ant scripts provided with Inspyrus will make any installer happy!

Contact Marvin Martinez about Inspyrus Ant benefits today

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A Recipe for AP Invoice Automation Success – Walk Before You Run

A Recipe for AP Invoice Automation Success – Walk Before You Run

By: Carl Dion | Senior Solution Architect

Despite the progress that has been made in automating the procurement and payment process, significant human intervention is still required to process Accounts Payable (AP) invoices.  The volume of paper invoices is decreasing, but paper invoices are not being replaced by EDI (Electronic Data Exchange) and Portal mechanisms as much as they are by the submission of invoices as attachments to emails.  In any event, capturing and validating invoice information from paper invoices and invoices attached to emails and entering this information into AP systems remains a tedious, time consuming and costly process.  Invoice processing solutions that automate the extraction and validation of this information, automate the entry of valid invoice information into AP systems and provide efficient mechanisms to resolve exceptions can provide significant time and cost savings benefits.  They also facilitate improved financial controls.  Implementing such a solution that dramatically changes entrenched accounts payables processes in a stable can be a daunting task for a company.

TekStream has a proven track record of success implementing AP automation solutions utilizing the out-of-the-box Oracle Financials Imaging Implementation Accelerator as a starting point.  The Accelerator consists of a set of predefined configurations for Oracle WebCenter software that address a superset of the most common processes necessary to automate the capture, validation and uploading of invoice data into the Oracle eBusiness Suite AP module (EBS).  In TekStream’s experience the Accelerator provides a solid foundation on which to build an automated invoice processing solution for almost all customers.

Rather than starting with a clean white board and design a custom automated invoice processing solution TekStream recommends starting with the out-of-the-box Accelerator design as a baseline.  Working with the customer AP staff, TekStream then discusses customer requirements and defines customer specific configurations of the Accelerator and AP process changes that will allow the customer to utilize the Accelerator in production for a reasonable percentage of their invoices.  This allows the customer AP staff to become familiar with the Accelerator and its features and functions while using it in a production environment and integrating the Accelerator’s functionality into their production processes.  TekStream recommends customers utilize the Accelerator in this manner in production for at least two to three months before TekStream and the customer assess progress based on what has been learned during that period.  Using what they have learned about the Accelerator and how it’s functionality applies to their day-to-day invoice processing operations, the customer is now better able to assess the value proposition associated with extending and customizing the Accelerator to enhance its ability to meet the customer’s unique invoice processing automation requirements.

Introducing change to an AP operation can be challenging.  Learning to effectively utilize new technologies is part of the challenge.  Implementing the Accelerator requires that AP resources learn to use new technologies as well as adapt to new processes the Accelerator introduces.  TekStream recommends that the automation technology available with the Accelerator be implemented in two steps.  The first step is to expose the elements of the Accelerator that provide “key-from-image” functionality.  This allows the AP staff to become familiar with the WebCenter software functionality, user interface and user experience with only moderate changes to the EBS data entry processes they are familiar with.  Later, the excellent automated invoice data extraction, data validation and data uploading to EBS elements of the Accelerator can be introduced.  Having a solid foundation of familiarity with the WebCenter and Accelerator basic functionality and user experience will allow the end users to more effectively adopt and utilize these advanced invoice data extraction and validation features of the Accelerator.  This foundation will also allow AP users to adapt more quickly to the EBS processes associated with reviewing and validating invoices automatically uploaded to EBS from the Accelerator.

The Accelerator provides an effective routing process mechanism for coding and approving invoices by business users who order goods and services through a non-PO process.  The coding and approval mechanism is connected to EBS in the background to ensure valid EBS business rules are used in the coding process.  It utilizes easy to use tools that allow will non-EBS users to easily cod and approve invoices with valid account codes that are consistent with EBS business rules.  The two step implementation process suggested by TekStream allows AP users time to educate and support the business users on the new technologies and processes as they themselves learn and adapt to the same.  Once they have a solid foundation of experience with eth Accelerator and their business users have the same experience, expanding to the automated data capture, validation and upload process will go much more smoothly and efficiently.

The automated data capture and validation component of the Accelerator uses the WebCenter Forms Recognition (WFR) product.   The out-of-the-box WFR component has been pre-trained to automatically recognize, extract and validate key invoice data from scanned paper invoices and invoices imported from emails.   Many WFR customers find the pre-trained WFR component to be very effective for their invoice population.   In situations where a customer has a high volume population of vendor invoices that are unique, WFR can be trained to more effectively read these invoices.  Again, TekStream recommends that customers use WFR in production for two to three months before investing in enhanced training of the WFR solution.

In closing, there is work to do to implement an automated invoice processing solution based on the Oracle Financials Imaging Implementation Accelerator.  TekStream has the knowledge and experience to help customers navigate and execute the implementation process quickly and effectively.  TekStream’s experience and knowledge with a long list of successful Accelerator implementation reinforces our recipe for success for customers when implementing an Accelerator based solution – walk before you run.

Speak with a TekStream expert about your AP Invoicing project today.

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