An Interview with James Adie, VP EMEA at Ephesoft

Intelligent document processing solutions offer numerous opportunities to increase efficiency. What role does the “sustainability” factor play here?

The issue of sustainability is an important factor that should be considered in all digitization projects. More and more companies are now doing this and setting a good example. With regard to intelligent document processing (IDP), the many thousands of pages of printed documents play an important role on the path to greater sustainability: teams that use an IDP solution can rely on digital processes and save large amounts of paper and print cartridges or toner. 

Then, there is digital archiving: the storage space needed for files that have to be kept for a longer period of time due to legal requirements has to be maintained and is then only good for housing documents that could also be safely archived digitally without much effort. Intelligent document processing solutions also contribute to this by freeing employees from recurring routine tasks and giving them the opportunity to actively participate in the company’s success with really important projects. Last but not least, sustainability in regard to the business itself is a huge benefit of IDP: companies with digital, efficient processes create a competitive advantage and secure their success.

To what extent can resources be saved by implementing IDP?

The potential for saving resources by introducing IDP depends on the individual company and, thus, varies greatly. However, it can be said that industries with paper-heavy business processes benefit the most from digitizing the processing of documents, like banking, insurance and accounts payable, for example. In addition, insurance forms, medical records and customer documents all contain a wealth of information about customer needs and behavior that, without structured capture and analysis, will remain useless to the company instead of helping to improve customer experience, understanding and the ability to offer more customized services. 

Which processes can be made even more efficient with IDP?

The more paper-intensive the process, the more it benefits from IDP. Incoming mail, accounting and human resources are the most common points of contact for a noticeable increase in efficiency. A practical example from our customer base clearly illustrates this: In the case of a large distributor of floor coverings, the team received about 2,000 to 2,500 invoices daily – that’s up to 650,000 documents per year. To process them manually, the company needed five employees in the accounting department and another in the mailroom to scan the receipts, print out PDFs and emails for filing and pass the documents on to colleagues for review. This took about 40 hours a week. The introduction of Ephesoft Transact digitized this process and reduced the manual effort to eight to ten hours per week. In addition, there was a significantly reduced error rate because about 85% of invoices go directly through the system without the need for validation.

Which mistakes do large companies make most often when digitizing their offices?

First, thanks to a recent survey of more than 300 executives in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the UK, we can say with certainty that in addition to the pandemic (63%) and the shift to hybrid work environments (40%), digitization of processes was one of the biggest challenges last year for 32% of respondents. For 59% of respondents, digital transformation is the number one trending topic in 2022, followed by migration to the cloud (38%) and Intelligent Document Processing (36%). 

In our experience, the mistake often lies in the wrong perspective: digitization is an ongoing process, not a one-off project. Some teams want too much too fast and quickly get bogged down along the way. Basically, the introduction of IDP is a good start to using digital processes for one’s own organization, because such a system can be implemented with minimal effort and quickly shows measurable improvements. Once this first step has been taken, companies can build on these learnings and plan and implement further initiatives.

Where do you think companies currently stand when it comes to intelligent document processing?

Our current survey has provided some exciting insights into this. Some companies are already addressing the issue of hyperautomation. 36% see intelligent document processing as an important technology in this environment, which means they are already one step ahead of pure digital document management. With their digitization initiatives, they want to design faster, automated processes, increase data quality and reduce costs. In addition, efficient decision-making, positive customer experience and increased compliance play an important role.

Digital document management is one of the fundamental tools to drive automation. According to our survey, 29% of companies have already automated a quarter of their processes and are working on automating more – with 19% of respondents already automating half of all processes. Modern companies need data to make better decisions and offer customers and partners services that are tailored to their needs. This information is often already available in the organization, but cannot be used in its current form. Intelligent document processing helps precisely at this point by making previously hidden data usable and thus creating real added value for strategic decisions and company growth.

For more information on intelligent document processing, click here or download the eBook: 6 Essential Elements of Intelligent Document Processing.