You’re expecting to enhance your internal operations and workflow by purchasing a system that will bring AI into your company, saving manual data entry and boosting efficiency. This article will help walk you through four major considerations around artificial intelligence to have in mind when purchasing an intelligent document processing (IDP) platform. (For considerations when building something in house, explore our FAQ: Should you build or buy an IDP platform).

Consideration #1

The first thing to think about is what the IDP solution needs in order to begin producing results. Broadly speaking, there are three solution setup types in AI-driven products:

Low Maintenance: Some AI products require an initial setup to meet your objectives and then may require occasional tune-ups as you expand use cases or update requirements.
Lots of Data: Many products may require a large amount of data around your use case plus several weeks of development effort before being ready to use.
Out-of-the-Box: The final category are the systems that require no initial setup and work straight out of the box.

There are benefits and tradeoffs to each type of system, which I am going to discuss later in this article.

Consideration #2

Does the IDP solution you are looking at truly use AI? Many systems promise AI capabilities but under-the-hood they have nothing of the sort. These legacy, rule-based products may still be able to provide you what you’re looking for but expect that fragile rules and complex RegEx systems will eventually require significant efforts to maintain, update and expand beyond the initial project scope. To truly benefit from the power of AI, your initial decision should ensure that the system really is AI-driven or has a concrete roadmap to deliver AI products and the ability to seamlessly transition your company with it as new technology is developed.

Consideration #3

Third, make sure you understand the cost and ROI of each solution you’re considering. The costs associated with adopting AI are more than just the initial investment: continual costs associated with human intervention should be figured in as well. This finding might surprise you – automation is most often more important than accuracy and this should be part of your conversation with potential vendors.

Let’s take an example to illustrate the point: Imagine a scenario in which a document takes 10 minutes to process manually. If that process can be successfully automated, then it would take 0 minutes of manual work. Any low-confidence predictions or possible errors flagged for review take an average of 4 minutes for a user to review and accept the results. You are trying to decide between two solutions:

Solution 1 with High Accuracy – boasts an accuracy of 95% in all the areas you have identified as a priority for your company; however, although very accurate in general, this solution is never perfectly accurate on any document and constantly requires review.
The Math: This means per 100 documents there is an average review time of 400 minutes. Compared to the manual process, this saves 60% of the time required.

Solution 2 with Less Human Review – This solution does not seem very promising. It only achieves 85% accuracy – a 10% worse score than solution 1. Although the accuracy is worse, this solution offers a 70% straight-through processing rate (STP). This means that 70% of your documents will not need review.
The Math: The remaining 30% of documents need review and per 100 documents, that’s 120 minutes of review time – a 78% decrease in time spent in the manual process. Even assuming that the 30% were complete failures and needed complete manual processing, this still equates to only 300 minutes of manual review per 100 documents.

This example should help to underscore the importance of automation over pure accuracy. A good IDP solution with true AI will allow users to calculate the different options and help understand the real value the technology can offer. Be sure to test out various solutions to gain a better understanding of the performance on your particular problem set.

Consideration #4

The final point to consider is whether you want a custom solution or a generalized, point solution. As mentioned earlier, both approaches have pros and cons. Here are the most important factors to consider.

Customized Solutions
First, consider customized IDP solutions. These types of AI products are custom-fit to a particular use case and they perform exceedingly well on narrow-scope projects with best-in-class accuracy. Alternatively, it’s important to understand that custom solutions lack flexibility.

When implementing a customized solution, much of the initial setup required for the first project will be necessary for each new project scope. Depending on the time and financial commitment needed for each project type, the investment can end up being considerable, if not planned properly. Furthermore, some custom solutions will require minimal input from you while others require a large amount of data to be fine-tuned for each use case. Understanding the financial cost is important but also estimating the time and effort required to prepare additional materials, which could be costly as well.

Point Solutions
On the opposite spectrum from customized solutions are the ones that are use case-specific. One of the major advantages to point solutions is that they require little to no setup and provide out-of-the-box results, showing immediate return on your investment. These solutions are often low/no-code and powered by AI. They do not typically perform as well as a customized solution on a project-by-project basis but they add further value by being able to perform nearly as well across many project types without any additional investment in configuring the solution. Additionally, because point solutions tend to be AI-driven technologies, they improve and evolve with usage without needing a complete system update or version change – it is seamless to maintain the latest and greatest performance.

What will work best for your company? Schedule a demo or request a free trial to see how Ephesoft’s AI-powered IDP platform works on your documents.