On-Demand Webinar

Automating AP with Completely Paperless Invoice Processing

See the Products in Action
June 4, 2020


Your Accounts Payable document solution should save you money, time, and errors. A comprehensive solution will improve your data integrity, speed up your document routing, and make payment processing painless. 
In this webinar you'll see how to:

  • Capture and routing methods for secure yet simple processing 
  • Data integration for better management and visibility 
  • Processing solutions for faster payment and maybe even some profit 

Watch the webinar to start making AP headaches a thing of the past. 

A complete transcript of this webinar is available below:


Greg Schmidt:                   Good morning and afternoon everyone and welcome to the webinar today. I just want to say thank you for taking time on your busy schedules today to join me on today's webinar. My name is Greg Schmidt, I'll be the presenter for today's webinar. Today, I'm going to be talking about how you can start your AP automation journey with completely paperless invoice processing. I will also be talking about how robotic process automation or RPA can be used to help remove the repetitive user-based tasks to bring you to another level of automation.

Greg Schmidt:                   Again, my name is Greg Schmidt. I'm the Senior Technical Solutions Consultant for the Document and Forms Management brand here at HelpSystems. I've been with the Document and Forums Management brand for over 20 years now. I specialize in pre-sales demonstrations, proof of concepts, business process requirements gathering, pre-implementation design and best practice guidance within organization.

Greg Schmidt:                   Our discussion today starts with a quick look at the areas of focus of the Document and Forms Management brand. I'll be covering the top current business challenges and AP trends in the world today. I'll also be talking about what is Webdocs for AP and how can it help your organization and then I'll also be covering the entire process of the Webdocs AP and the four different steps inside of there. Then I will also have sprinkled in some RPA automation for accounts payable, so how does RPA work inside the accounts payable process. Then we'll cover integration methodologies and how different ways you could integrate into your ERP or line of business system. Then we'll end today with a few minutes of Q and A at the end.

Greg Schmidt:                   Feel free to enter those questions as I'm going through the presentation here today and then I'll get to them at the end of the webinar. With entering those questions, please select all presenters so all the questions are directed to me. We'll also plan to complete this session in about 30 minutes or so, so you'll have plenty of time to make your next important meeting. Also, today's event is being recorded and you will receive a link after the webinar to share with anyone in your organization who could not attend today's session.

Greg Schmidt:                   Our Webdocs document and forms management solution covers four areas in the digital transformation process, the Going Paperless or Document Management for the capture in the secure storage of all your business documents and content Process Management or Workflow Enforcement of your business documents and forms. Forms Management is a web based fillable forms creation solution with workflow enforcement that can be used, we'll talk about it here in a little bit, in your AP approval process and review processes for any of your business forms that you need to enforce how the data is being filled out and approved. Then also, Document Creation and Delivery for all your customer facing output forms, creation like invoices, bill of ladings, pack slips and statements that you need to create and deliver to customers in a professional manner.

Greg Schmidt:                   The Webdocs for AP solution uses all four of these categories to provide your AP department efficiencies within your AP process. But don't forget about the other departments in your organizations that need to manage their documents. The same Webdocs solution you are using for the AP automation can be expanded and secured to help everyone in the organization from HR, legal, customer service and also the shipping department. There is truly no limit to how Webdocs can help you organize your documents and your forms within your organization.

Greg Schmidt:                   With our Digital Transformation Toolkit, we provide organizations with a complete toolkit to integrate, control and automate their world. From the document and forms management, report management, advanced capture and data extraction. Inside our toolkit, we also offer RPA technology, which I'll be talking about a little bit later here, to help you eliminate those manual task-based processes that users are doing today.

Greg Schmidt:                   Really quick before I move on to what the solution does and how it works, I just want to cover a few things on business challenges and why companies are looking at AP and workflow automation systems. There are a lot of stats out there on AP automation on how it helps companies, so I'm not going to inundate you with all the stats about AP automation, but I do want to highlight a few themes that we are hearing in the industry today.

Greg Schmidt:                   The number one challenge or theme for many companies we are working with today is paper intense and inefficient manual business processes. Most companies have very paper-intense processes today and really have no way to enforce how the documents and data are captured, and even more important, how the approvals are being done on invoices that have variances or for the non-PO based invoices or that have no PO's attached to them.

Greg Schmidt:                   In most cases, AP has to run after every single invoice that needs some kind of approval on it, either via email or the worst case scenario is they have to print a copy and hand deliver it and then babysit the approval process until it's been completed. This process is easier to do if you don't have large volumes. But as that volume grows and more and more approvals are needed, this process becomes an impossible task to manage via paper. Today, I'll be talking about how we can help you with that and remove the need for the manual-based paper processes and let automation take you to that next step.

Greg Schmidt:                   Here are some other common themes we hear regularly as well. My business needs to automate workflow functionality for AP and other AP business processes. My company is trying to gain new levels of efficiency without adding additional staff by maximizing user productivity. This one, we'll be talking about more when we get to how RPA automation works within the AP process. Next is, departments are trying to eliminate paper processing and reallocate staff to more value-added work such as servicing vendors and customers. Many companies are still trying to solve the issue of processing and distributing paperwork across multiple departments and various locations. Companies are also wanting to streamline their audit preparation and response times. And last of all, management wants to fully utilize and extend existing IT investments across the company to leverage efficiencies. An example of this would be integrating into your ERP for seamless updating of data and also access to documents via the ERP or line of business system interface directly.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now, keeping in mind some of those industry trends that I just talked about, what is Webdocs for AP, and how can it solve all of your AP automation needs? First of all, what is Webdocs for AP, and how can it help my company, right, or your company? Webdocs for AP is our premier AP automation solution that helps organizations with the automation of their AP processes for PO and non-PO based invoices. Boosting efficiencies within the AP department by avoiding manual document capture and data entry, it simplifies AP processes and activities by automatically capturing the documents from an email inbox or a network folder, or even scan documents directly to the system. It then auto-classifies incoming documents and extracts the data at the header and footer and line item detail level, depending on how it classifies and captures the document.

Greg Schmidt:                   After the data is extracted from the document, it then validates the data to your configured business rules in the system. Webdocs for AP has a single user interface for documents that are routed and have the need for data entry tasks to be completed, like GL coding and also supporting documentation uploads can be captured and tagged during this time as well. Data is then exported directly to your ERP system or staging table via one of our integration methodologies, so no rekeying of the data needs to take place. You also see at the bottom of this slide other ways it can help you inside of the AP process. So I'll give you just a few seconds to look over them before I move on.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now, let me walk you through the four stages of the Webdocs for AP process. The Webdocs for AP solution can help you at all four stages of the AP process, if needed. It starts with step one, the PO request and approval process. Maybe your ERP system generates POs for you already. If so, we can capture the PO directly to Webdocs for archival with one of our automated monitors so all the supporting documents are accessible from one place. But if it doesn't, Webdocs for AP can kick off the process by creating a PO and getting approvals on them with its built-in web-based forms and approval system.

Greg Schmidt:                   Again, if you already have a PO creation process, like many ERPs have it built-in today, the Webdocs AP process can start with the automatic capture of those POs that are generated from your line of business system or ERP with one of our monitors that we can monitor either from on the iSeries side, the IBM i side or on the Windows side. So no matter what platform you're running, we can accommodate those.

Greg Schmidt:                   Step two of the process is the automated capture of the incoming invoices from any source like email, network folders and websites. Let's take a peek behind the scenes of step two before we move on, a little deeper look here. First, let's look at how does the advanced capture system know what data you need. Here is a deeper look at what's happening behind the scenes after the documents are captured and when the data is being extracted. The advanced capture engine, which is referred to as an IDC product or an intelligent document capture, behind the covers, the advance capture server, takes the image of the document that are captured, extracts the data from the entire invoice at the header and footer all the way down to the line item detail, if needed and required. If you get invoices in an email as an attachment, it can interrogate and split into the appropriate documents automatically without someone having you to open up each of those manually one by one.

Greg Schmidt:                   After the date is extracted, it is then used... After the system extracts that data from the incoming invoices, it can then classify the documents itself. So after that classification piece happens, the business rules are then applied and then the data and the documents are then processed into the system. Matching data to the ERP systems can take place at this time as well to ensure all the supporting information is in the ERP or in the Webdocs DMS system. An example of this would be like PO matching and line item detail matching process.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now on to step three, the User Review Stage. This stage has the capability to send notifications to AP processors so they can verify exception invoices. Exception invoices are invoices that have broken some kind of business rule during the data validation process. Corrections can be made at the AP department or the invoices can be sent to a user workflow for review and approval.

Greg Schmidt:                   At this point, there are two paths a document can go on. The first path is the invoices that are captured that have passed classification and also pass the business rules engine. If so, they can go to what we call Straight Through Processing, with no user intervention directly to the Webdocs archive system and then the data is passed to the ERP. So again, no rekeying of the data has to take place.

Greg Schmidt:                   The second path is the exception document path. The exception process is triggered if the document can't be classified or if the data extracted fails one or more of the business rules. The AP clerk would get a notification of the failures and then process them with our verification stations. The verification stations allow AP to look at the document and the data in a single interface, to make any corrections or approvals that are needed at this time. Also at this point in the process, they can also do GL coding, if necessary, or add them to a workflow for user review or approvals.

Greg Schmidt:                   If there's a variance from the invoice to the PO after it is matched, it can be handled at the verification station by the AP or automatically routed to Webdocs and placed into a workflow for user review. Users of the workflow would be notified of any approvals that they need to do via email or the Webdocs workflow inbox interface.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now, how are approvals set up in Webdocs? Webdocs for AP also has a built-in workflow engine, so you can route your POs and invoices for approval directly inside of the Webdocs interface. You can also configure email notifications at each step of the process to keep users informed of approvals that need to be completed. Webdocs for AP routes it where it needs to go for the electronic sign off based on your business rules. All approvals in Webdocs are version and audit controlled, so you can see who and when someone has approved something in the process.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now if users need to do more advanced approval or GL coding and don't have access to the ERP or your ERP doesn't offer that functionality, you can use the Webdocs for AP approval routing form in this process, which we refer to as HS forms. The Webdocs approval form is a single interface for documents that need approvals from users. This interface allows users to access them via the web interface, to see the data extracted along the process with the image of the document and make any changes necessary or GL code any line items. You could even add supporting documentation and information at this time as well inside the form directly.

Greg Schmidt:                   Step four of the process is the Data Integration and Document Use stage. This stage gives you the capability to interface with your ERP system directly to export the verified data that was captured during the process and workflow approval processes. The extracted and approved data is passed to the ERP import, so no rekeying of the data needs to happen. And also the documents are available for search and retrieval in the Webdocs system immediately. This completes the process after everything is validated, matched and reviewed.

Greg Schmidt:                   Webdocs for AP offers a variety of ERP integration capabilities depending on your ERP integration methodology and standards your company uses. Webdocs for AP is your complete accounts payable document approval system.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now let's look at how RPA or robotic process automation can help inside an AP automation project. In many cases, AP processes can be very complex and there are a lot of moving parts and even multiple integrations to business systems that might need to take place. We sometimes use our RPA automation tools for orchestrating and managing documents' processes.

Greg Schmidt:                   Here's a look at a sample AP automation workflow built in our RPA tool. It covers the capture of documents and the integration into the advanced capture system, so it can extract the data and the document processing. It can also do the classification of those documents that we just talked about earlier, and then all the way down to the validation and matching process, secure storage of those documents on the backend to workflows, and then also the ERP updating. So we can use this to orchestrate that entire process flow and run it on a scheduled basis or run it at an attended or unattended fashion.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now when you bring RPA into the mix, you could automate the process even more. Like with custom email monitoring, SFTP/FTP monitoring and also website and vendor portal monitoring, we can implement on the beginning of that. Then at the end of the process, you could use RPA to integrate into your ERP or line of business system. With the RPA, ERP and line of business system integration, you can integrate into the legacy applications or if your application supports web services or RESTful APIs, we can help you with that as well directly in the RPA interface. RPA could also integrate directly into your ERP's front-end interface if there is no other integration option your ERP supports.

Greg Schmidt:                   RPA is also used to eliminate any repetitive task-based user or server processes. Here is an example of a process of an automation bot monitoring an email account and then processing the documents directly to the advanced capture system to process. This was actually the process from a portal here. You can see how it's downloading it from a portal and then it can place that information directly into the system. So we can run these automation bots to be able to process that information like that.

Greg Schmidt:                   Last of all, since RPA is more of a behind the scenes technology, we also offer what we call a human in the loop interface for taking care of document reviews and approvals and exception handling of incoming documents. The user in the loop process for AP automations are, at the document capture level for exception documents that do not pass all the business rules or the data can't be read off the document and validated, so if you need to get a user in that loop process there, we have that review station for them to be able to do that or we can also do that through a workflow.

Greg Schmidt:                   Now let's go back a few steps in the process again and talk a little more about of the options for the integration between your ERP systems and the Webdocs for AP system. We look at integration in a variety of best practice ways. First, we look at what data needs to be passed to the ERP and then we look at what options your systems have to do that integration. Then, we'd make our recommendations of what method to use. Let's take a look at a couple of those options.

Greg Schmidt:                   The first option is our standard best practice option that most companies use to do integration to their ERP. This option allows us to use our standard export file that is populated with the data that was captured with the advanced capture engine and any other information that was gathered during the workflow and approval process and export it as an XML file and then pass it to the ERP import process. This option is becoming the standard option because most companies have an import process today so it makes more sense to reuse what you have already instead of reinventing the wheel in here.

Greg Schmidt:                   The second option you have is to use our built in RESTful APIs to talk directly to the ERP and Webdocs. We have a full set of RESTful APIs built into Webdocs that lets you interact with documents, data and workflow routes in various ways during the process.

Greg Schmidt:                   The third option lets you take advantage of our RPA capabilities or automation bots to extract or to interact with your ERP and databases, and they're at that user interface level, which we talked about earlier. The user interface level is used if you don't have an option that is feasible for integration. The automate RPA option also allows you to interact directly to your ERP's database and API so you can build non-code based integrations with our drag and drop tasks and workflow designer. During this process, the RPA process can also create a report of all transactions that were imported to your ERP and send you an email directly to the AP team or to managers.

Greg Schmidt:                   Okay here. I'm going to take some time for Q and A here now, so feel free to keep entering your questions. While I review the results, I see there's some questions coming in. If I don't get to all the questions today, I will be following up after the presentation to answer any of them. Let's see here. Okay, some great questions. Yeah, I think I answered some of the earlier questions here, but I'll go through these and these are good ones.

Greg Schmidt:                   Can approvers be notified via email for approvals? The answer is yes, notifications can be sent out to users in the AP department that have exception documents that need to review and also notifications can be sent out to users in a workflow process, so both of them.

Greg Schmidt:                   Another question here. Can approvals be made on a mobile device? I did not talk about this, but yes. Approvals can be made via any device that has web browser-based access. The Webdocs for AP solution is a fully web-enabled solution.

Greg Schmidt:                   All right, here. What are your ERP capabilities? So this question came in before I did the ERP integration slides, but the answer, again, we have multiple ways to do integration into your ERP, like RESTful APIs, file export capability, which is more of the standard today. We also have that RPA interface option if your system does not have some of those capabilities or you need to do some more custom stuff without doing coding.

Greg Schmidt:                   All right, here. See, I'm going to take one more question, then I have another thing I want to cover here really quick. What platforms can you integrate into and what platform does the solution run on? Well, first, we can integrate into any platform, if it is an IBM i based solution, Linux-based solution or Windows-based solution. It really doesn't make a difference what platform it is, we can integrate directly into that. To answer the second part of that question, we can run native on the IBM i or we can run native on a Windows system. So we can run in the cloud. So if you have cloud, AWS, Azure and stuff like that, so we can integrate and run on either of those systems.

Greg Schmidt:                   All right. One more thing I would like to answer. We get asked a lot from our prospects and customers when we're doing demonstrations is, are there packages you offer to get started? The answer to that is yes. We offer getting started packages for just general document management implementations and we also offer packages for the Webdocs for AP. So if you want to do more of a phase kind of approach for the AP kind of process or a full AP package, so we have. Those are what we call getting started packages that cover that PO and non-PO based process. Depending on if you need some of that advanced routing or advanced approvals, we have those different stages that we can offer.

Greg Schmidt:                   Great questions there. One of the last things here too, we also, during the implementation process, we offer a solution design to help customers find some of those other inefficiencies in their process then fix them with the solution as we do the implementation. So we also cover some of that as well. That is an extra cost, because not everybody needs that. Some of it's pretty straight forward, but some of those more detailed processes, we can bring in that solution design or consultation to be able to dig through the weeds a little bit on that.

Greg Schmidt:                   All right. There's still a lot of great questions out there that I'm not going to get into today. Okay. If I didn't get to your question today, I will be following up shortly afterwards to get those answers to your questions.

Greg Schmidt:                   I would just like to thank everyone for attending today's webinar. I hope you learned some helpful information to allow your company to go down the AP automation journey. If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to our sales team or me and we'd be happy to schedule a free consultation or a live one-on-one demo to address any of your questions. You will also receive a link to this webinar, so you can share the webinar with anybody in your company who could not attend today's session. Thanks again for attending today's webinar. Have a great day and a great rest of your week.

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