Achieving process efficiency in shared services: OCR scanning


Annually, shared services typically have thousands of suppliers and – through their dealings with these – can receive hundred of thousands of paper purchase invoices.

P2P (procure-to-pay), a process used for this purpose, generally involves manually keying in invoice details. This can not only be time-consuming and inefficient but can also involve a significant waste of resource.

OCR scanning: why is it being used?

Optical character recognition (OCR) is the mechanical or electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. For shared services centers, it offers a quicker and more accurate form of data entry from an original paper data source (such as an invoice).

There are a number of advantages but some of the main benefits include:

Saves money and increases efficiency

Typically, there’s a lot of cost and time associated with archiving and filling invoices. Clearly, it’s much faster to scan and index purchase invoices than to manually key in the data and scan the relevant barcode. OCR therefore reduces time and ensures documents can be located and retrieved much more efficiently.

Reduces errors and improves security

As there is significantly less manual keying required, OCR also reduces data input errors. Invoices can be quickly scanned in and this reduces the likeliness of documents being lost. OCR systems also often have additional settings (e.g. password protection) to ensure maximum security. For shared services centers OCR offers a quicker and more accurate form of data entry.

Easy to implement

OCR has a quick implementation time compared to other automation systems. It’s also typically easy to use, for example providing good search functionality for your staff using it. Importantly it’s a standalone implementation that does not affect other business units or your suppliers, which means only your P2P departments and IT will be involved in the project. 

A useful barometer for further automation

OCR Scanning implementation can be used as a ‘test’ for additional future automation and to further reorganise workflows and processes within the P2P department. It can also lead to you creating a highly motivated P2P team doing more value-added work than constantly manually keying invoices.

If you would like to talk to a shared service that has implemented OCR scanning within their P2P department contact on 0121 281 5000.



Birmingham & Midlands
Shared Service Forum

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