Outsourcing Automated Data Capture with Accounting BPOs
It is estimated that worldwide, finance and accounting departments are still processing up to 90% of invoices manually. This staggering figure means companies like yours are spending more while processing less, which is hurting your business and your bottom line. If your organization works with large volumes of financial documents, automating your accounting operations can help you gain efficiencies across your business. This is where accounting BPOs can help save the day.
What is Business Process Outsourcing?
In the simplest terms, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company acts as a third-party subcontractor that provides an end-to-end managed service for certain business processes. These operations have expanded beyond almost entirely manufacturing work to include IT services, customer service, and financial services like invoice data capture.
Whether your company is large or small, it has most likely faced the decision to outsource at some point. Reduced labor costs and access to a larger talent pool are major benefits that can help your company focus on its core competencies. Accounts payable (AP) is one of the most common use cases for accounting BPOs because a healthy AP department means a healthy business.
Outsourcing Manual Data Capture
Data capture plays an important role in every business. This is one of the first processes to be outsourced to accounting BPOs with the goal of lowering costs as much as possible while supporting a high volume of invoices. Despite the fact that data extraction is relatively easy to automate, many of these BPOs still have humans sit at desks to manually enter invoice data into spreadsheets, accounting systems, and other business software.
When considering accounting BPO services, you need to know the right error rate SLA for your company. If it’s too low, your outsourced data entry team will just be creating a huge workload for your accountants, who will have to validate the captured data manually. Alternatively, if it’s too high, you may hit delivery problems due to unrealistic expectations, or you could end up paying so much that you lose the cost savings you hired the BPO for in the first place.
Sometimes your best option is to allow for a small error rate in the SLA while adding extra automatic checks from your side to compensate for any inconsistencies.
Impact of Outsourcing Data Capture on Humans
When considering outsourcing, look at the benefits it can provide along with the impact it could have on your company. No decision comes without a few drawbacks, so analyze what you and your company are willing to settle for when deciding to outsource.
Lack of control
When considering outsourcing data entry, the first challenge that comes to mind is loss of control. It’s difficult enough to keep everyone on the same page (or even showing up to a meeting at the same time) when working in one office. For invoices, simple mistakes that aren’t caught on time can lead to some major problems and can be costly for your entire business. These are mistakes that could have been caught had the data entry clerks been on the same page, or better yet in the same office or timezone.
Communication issues and delays
Invoices are one of the most important documents for a finance and accounting department (and the company as a whole). Problems with communication and subsequent delays could mean late payments fees or penalties, upset vendors or even potential disputes and escalations. Quality of processing can be drawn into question, when the manager oversight is in a different time zone.
Specific needs require a specific expertise
Your business may have specific needs that typical outsourcing services cannot meet easily. This could include data capture from non-standard documents with variable layouts or from documents in foreign languages that not many outsourced data entry clerks understand. This information may not be efficiently transferred elsewhere outside of your company. A pro with specific expertise and a personal touch could evade errors that may pop up with a novice.
Outsourcing Automated Data Capture
Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions consist of cloud-based software that can unify business operations and communications across departments and continents. Streamlining your accounting operation with a cloud-based automated invoice data capture platform can produce the following:
- Cost savings
- Value generation
- Better information sharing
- More actionable insights
While engaging a BPO center is all about outsourcing, transparency is a totally valid requirement in today’s business environment. Just as you ask prospective BPOs about their security measures for assurance they’ll keep your data confidential, you should also discuss their technical infrastructure to make sure it will be able to handle your document volumes and SLAs. Failure to do so puts you at risk of a failed implementation months down the line.
When your accounting BPO uses automated data capture, they can be a valuable ally in your efforts to ensure continuous growth for your company.
Making Finance and Accounting Managers Happy
Coordinating with teams in one office is difficult enough. Now imagine coordinating with your outsourced team in a different office, country, and timezone. You’ve got managers over there pulling their hair out trying to meet deadlines and coordinate across teams from different delivery sites. These brave, hard-working souls need a solution that allows their teams to collaborate on the same work queues. They also require a platform that enables them to monitor performance on individual, team, and deal levels, and provides them with performance data predictions they can analyze on a daily basis.
BPOs Move Into the 21st Century
A growing number of accounting BPOs are realizing that it doesn’t make sense to outsource a menial job like manual data entry from one human to another, no matter the geographical location. Instead, they are choosing automated, cloud-based solutions that can relieve their typists’ minds and fingers from constantly moving information over from one place to another.
Pierian Services recently added outsourcing to its portfolio of finance and accounting services. In our continuously evolving digital world, it was a no-brainer for them to work with Rossum to automate the data capture portion of their offerings. Now, companies can outsource their invoice data capture to Pierian with the reassurance that they’ll get accurate results on time. With Rossum, artificial intelligence (AI) does the heavy lifting, minimizing human intervention to short validation sessions that continuously improve the AI’s precision.
Working with Pierian has been a breeze, and the feeling is mutual according to Monish Kumar Desai, Program Manager at Pierian:
“The team is down-to-earth; they have a very open and inviting attitude towards dealing with their customers and customer problems. I consider them more of an extended part of my team rather than a vendor, as I can always count on them. All of them are always a call away, ready to help, this has made post-implementation support a breeze. I have been interacting with the team since the very early days…and a lot of my feedback was considered with an open mind and I can gladly say today they are part of [Rossum].”
A-Scan, a Central European BPO that focuses on document processing, started using companies like Rossum so that humans no longer had to do outsourced manual data entry.
Previously, A-Scan’s clients outsourced data entry work to them; the company was manually scanning and capturing data from hundreds of thousands of invoices per year. Knowing that this is mind-numbing work, A-Scan decided it would be better to offer a service that could extract the data automatically. That’s where Rossum came in to act as A-Scan’s primary invoice data extraction solution. Since implementing Rossum, A-Scan’s customers have seen over 1000 templates replaced and 30 days a year of Managers’ time saved.
Benefits Rossum Can Provide for Accounting BPOs
At Rossum, we want companies to simplify and streamline their accounting by making automated data capture easier and more accessible. Unlike traditional BPOs, which provide end-to-end managed services, an accounting BPO can combine Rossum’s data capture solution with its regular services. This enables your in-house finance and accounting teams to validate data quickly and easily, rather than spending most of their working hours processing invoices.
There is a major difference between validating data extracted manually versus validating data captured with AI. The latter option reduces the time it takes to validate a single invoice from 3.5 minutes to less than 30 seconds!
As Pavel Trnavsky, CTO at A-Scan puts it:
“With its intuitive interface, fast and accurate extraction, and competitive price, Rossum has become our go-to solution for invoice [data] extraction.”
Automate the P in BPO
If your company is considering working with an accounting BPO, consider one that uses AI to automate the data capture process. This could save your company time and money compared to the headaches trying to vet, interview, and onboard workers who will need to be well-trained and committed to preventing mistakes while reviewing, correcting, and validating invoice data.
During these especially tense times, and seemingly endless quarantines, you need to make sure your business processes are still running. As you consider your options, you’ll see there’s technology that can improve operational efficiency for some teams almost immediately. An automated cloud-based SaaS solution can run all day, everyday, helping the accounting BPO you work with help you stay on top of everything while working remotely.
See how AI-powered data capture can work for you!