How to convert PDF invoices to Excel quickly and cost-effectively
The versatility and flexibility of PDF have made it the de facto official file format for document sharing and collaboration. However, converting data from PDF invoices into accounting tools can present a challenge. In this blog post, we’ll focus on how you can export data from PDFs into spreadsheet programs like MS Excel.
Data capture solutions: Traditional OCR vs cognitive
Manual data entry is quickly becoming outdated, and in its place solutions are being implemented that reduce time and costs, while increasing accuracy and productivity. Is it possible to determine the better solution when it comes to data capture – traditional OCR or AI?
PDF data extractor
The invention of the Portable Document Format (PDF) made it possible for companies to exchange documents without using physical paper. Businesses have utilized this document format for many of their document needs, but it still carries the same flaw as paper documents. Back in the day, when companies received paper documents, they would send the document to a data entry clerk who would read the data and retype it into the business platform.
Today, companies receive PDF files, but they still need to send these digital files to a data entry clerk for data extraction purposes. This is because PDF files are most commonly sent as images or scans of documents rather than files with digitally readable data. As with the paper documents, the data entry clerks must read and extract the data from these files manually, which can be costly and take up valuable time.
There are many different ways to extract data from PDF files. A PDF data extractor tool is one solution to the problem of manual data extraction. Sometimes called a PDF scraper, these tools exist as online websites and downloadable software. A PDF data extractor uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities to read the data and text in a PDF file.
Many programs will then let the company choose what file format they would like the data to be imported into, with Excel being a common choice. For example, to extract data from PDF to Excel, a business could use software that allows them to upload the PDF file. Then, the software would read and convert the data into an Excel spreadsheet which could then be downloaded and edited.
Software and platforms that can extract data from PDF documents can also save companies and employees time and money. The best PDF data extractor software will incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology so that it can automatically extract the data and import it into the corresponding fields in the business platform. Rossum is an AI-powered software that can efficiently extract data from PDF files with a 98% accuracy rate. Rossum’s platform makes data extraction 6x faster than manual extraction and can save businesses thousands of dollars in the long term.
PDF text extractor
For companies that need to extract text from PDF files, there are a few different options. The simplest tool is a free PDF data extractor online. Unlike software, to extract text from PDF online, you only need to upload the PDF file to the website and choose which format you need the text to be exported into. After a few moments, the site will prompt you to download the extracted text in the format you chose. These simple tools are free to use and can be an easy way to convert text in a PDF to digitally editable text. Unfortunately, these tools may not be the best choice for businesses.
The possibility of security issues and the simple nature of these websites can mean that documents may be compromised or the text may be extracted incorrectly. This results in more work for employees because they will then have to edit all of the mistakes that the online extractor tool made.
Additionally, an online PDF extractor tool will not usually be able to handle the large number of documents that businesses must process. Companies that are interested in a more reliable PDF text extractor should consider a software with AI capabilities. In addition to the improved efficiency and accuracy of such a software, an AI-powered OCR tool like Rossum can also act as a PDF font extractor. In other words, if the PDF file has text that is in a unique or hard-to-read font, an extractor software with AI will be able to read it easily.
PDF data extractor to Excel
With 54% of businesses using Excel for their spreadsheets, converting PDF data to Excel spreadsheets is a common need. A PDF data extractor to Excel tool can be found online or as a software. Small businesses may find that a simple online tool that can extract data from a PDF file and convert it into an editable Excel spreadsheet will work well for their Document Processing department. These tools may not be able to read data from tables or text that is “locked” in the PDF, however. For these documents, companies may need more advanced software.
Data extraction from unstructured PDFs
When it comes to data extraction from unstructured PDFs, the most common way to do this is manually. As of a 2017 Billentis report, over 90% of organizations process invoices manually. The average full-time data entry employee that performs their task manually will make 155,000 keystrokes and 8,000 clicks in one month. In comparison, if that same employee were to utilize a cognitive data capture software for their data extraction purposes, the employee would only make 4,150 keystrokes and 1,450 clicks in one month.
This is one example of how an AI-powered software can make data extraction more efficient and accurate than manual extraction. While companies could create an OCR tool using a coding library from GitHub, or they could use an online website that can convert unstructured PDF files into digitally readable formats, neither of these tools would be as efficient or capable as a comprehensive software with AI. Additionally, it takes less than one day to implement Rossum in a business, but developing a program for PDF data extraction from scratch could take weeks or months.
Extract data from scanned PDF
The best PDF extraction tool will be able to extract data from scanned PDF files. Scanned PDFs might be physical documents that were scanned or digitally-created documents with data that has been converted into a PDF file. This kind of PDF file is sometimes called an unstructured PDF. Unstructured refers to data that does not have a predefined model. To extract unstructured data from PDF documents would require an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool. This kind of tool is designed to detect text and data in unstructured formats so that they can be converted into digitally readable and editable text.
OCR tools for PDF data extraction can be created using coding libraries such as those from GitHub and tools such as Google Vision API. These methods are best suited for organizations that want to develop and implement a unique system for their needs. Otherwise, companies could find OCR software for PDF data extraction. The software options available can be simple or complex, and choosing the best one for your business will depend on the unique needs of your Document Processing department. A cognitive data capture software like Rossum is the most efficient and accurate tool for extracting data from scanned PDF files.
Automated data extraction from PDF
With 66% of businesses actively trying out solutions for automating at least one of their business processes, it may be time to consider an automated data extraction from PDF tool. The right automation tool for data extraction can save organizations time and free up employees to work on less repetitive tasks. One method to automate data extraction is to use Python. PDF data extraction Python tutorials can be found online. While they may require some coding knowledge, a Python data extraction tool can be a helpful way to see if this kind of automation is something you need in your business. Another form of data extraction automation is to use an Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) platform like Rossum. These platforms use deep learning to extract text from PDF capabilities to automatically process PDF files, extract the data, and import it into the correct fields in the business program.
PDF data extraction software
For companies that are interested in implementing PDF data extraction software in their Document Processing departments, there are two main OCR-based options to choose from. The first is template-based OCR software. These programs rely on templates for documents so that the platform can know how to extract and import the data from PDF files. The downside to this software is that, for businesses that handle a variety of documents, there may be times when the document received by the company does not match a template in the software. This means that this document would need to either have a new template created for it or would need to be processed manually.
The second option for PDF data extractor software is a cognitive, AI-powered solution. Unlike template-based extractor tools, software with AI can automatically detect the data and fields in the PDF file in a human-like manner. Extracting data from PDF files with an Intelligent Document Processing software like Rossum means that a business can implement the software and use it to accurately export the data into any business system without the need for templates, multiple programs, or repetitive tasks for employees.
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