Digital Document Management

Intelligent Document Processing in Accounting


The majority of accounting firms process improvement is necessary as they still leverage outdated strategies and legacy systems for managing the sea of forms, PDFs and handwritten documents received daily.  This lack of flexibility and scalability adds unnecessary costs, slow processing times, and clerical errors that significantly impact the organization and the employees. Perhaps most importantly, it stunts downstream decision-making that hurts the customers or constituents at the heart of their organization.

Aug 6th 2021
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Despite today’s digital-first world, for many accountants, document processing and management remains as challenging and archaic as not having a work email for daily communication.

The public sector is especially susceptible to manual document processing challenges with legacy systems and tools unable to keep pace and handle any unexpected influx of requests. The continued use of outdated technology or cobbling together legacy systems has resulted in a brittle system that is unable to keep up with growing backlogs.

As ever-increasing volumes of unstructured data create these backlogs and processing bottlenecks, the negative impact for consumers and constituents is palpable, like being denied a mortgage loan or delayed federal assistance. That’s why agencies like the IRS and accounting firms themselves must consider modernizing with Intelligent Document Processing (IDP).

What is IDP?

Though the problem with outdated document technologies methods is clear, many have yet to discover the solution. IDP leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable end-to-end automation of document-centric processes.

Not only does IDP classify and convert complex document formats (PDFs, images, emails, scanned forms with messy handwriting) into structured, machine-readable information, but it does so with greater accuracy and more efficiency than legacy alternatives or manual methods.

In the case of an accounting firm amassing thousands of customer documents, such as 1099 forms, W-2s, invoices, pay stubs or checks in preparation of tax season, sophisticated Machine Learning models can automatically identify the digitized document, extract printed and handwritten text, and structure it into a machine-readable format that various downstream systems can use.

Then, the “human-in-the-loop” system creates checks and balances between AI and Machine Learning, bringing in humans to review and resolve if an error is detected or something remains unclear. Critically, this functionality guides machine and human performance for better machine and human outcomes, resulting in lower error rates, higher automation and faster, smoother processes.

Firms can automate and accelerate their operations to deliver more efficient and effective services by turning trapped data into actionable data with IDP. In the public sector, this speeds up the delivery of services when they’re needed most, such as disability claims, federal or local assistance packages and more.

The Acceleration and Adoption Curve for IDP

IDP is an exploding market and not all solutions are created equal, so organizations must consider the following for successful IDP implementation. Still, to reach a point in which data can be extracted to make accurate decisions, organizations must consider the following for successful IDP implementation:

Prioritize ease of use but beware of false promises when considering IDP solutions. While IDP should be easy to use, set up and maintain long-term, be mindful of any vendor that promises a “silver bullet” automation solution. The most impactful IDP implementation will align and adjust to an organization’s priorities and goals.

Embrace the critical step zero of high-quality data and prioritize a solution that delivers automation with accuracy across diverse document types and inputs. Organizations should seek solutions with robust AI and Machine Learning capabilities that improve performance, fine-tune models over time and can be tested across real-world scenarios.

Consider flexible IDP deployment that fits within your organization’s infrastructure, allowing for direct control of data and maximizes time-to-value of automation initiatives.

Upskill your staff to work alongside machines, empowering a more efficient, future-proofed workplace and business model. Upskilling employees can mean facilitating internal training sessions, altering recruiting practices to prioritize specific skills, and investing in more thorough onboarding and training sessions when individuals join an organization.

In Closing

Society’s expectations and demands of the organizations they trust are too high for manual data processing. It’s time organizations take process modernization seriously by adopting IDP. By prioritizing technology modernization to ensure documents and data are processed quickly, and requests handled accurately, all aspects of an organization’s ecosystem will win—most notably, its employees and the constituents and customers they serve.

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