OCR for accounting offices - an effective tool supporting the accounting process

Service Business

The accounting services market is constantly growing. New accounting offices are established that compete with prices, hence the prices of accounting services do not go up significantly. Thus, companies that deal with accounting and bookkeeping services on a daily basis are looking for new solutions that will allow them to save real time and thus money. One of them is the OCR function for accounting offices.

OCR for accounting offices

At the beginning, it is worth explaining that the abbreviation OCR stands for optical character recognition. Its task is to recognize text from a scanned document or photo, which is possible thanks to the use of methods in the field of pattern recognition (classified as artificial intelligence). Scanning OCR invoices consists in reading the relevant elements of the invoice, such as:

  • contractor data,
  • invoice number,
  • date of issue,
  • payment deadline,
  • VAT rates,
  • net, VAT and gross amounts.

Data read in such a way only need to be verified and selected the appropriate accounting scheme. Thus, human work is no longer about tedious data entry, it is only based on the knowledge of how a given document should be accounted for.

Scanning OCR invoices

When office workers receive paper documents from clients, they scan them on their own. In this case, you need a scanner for an accounting office that has a text recognition function (today many scanners have this option as standard). An employee with lower competences may be engaged to compose and scan documents.

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Scanning invoices by an accounting office client

Customers more and more often do not want to provide paper documents and send already scanned files. It is very convenient if the accountant receives one or two files with all documents in bulk. It is more difficult if the client sends, for example, 30 files in different e-mail messages. In this case, good organization of work is extremely important. An accountant working on the mojebiuro24.pl website can attach files to the system on an ongoing basis and select all files after the end of the month and order them to be read and booked with one click.

The work of an accountant can be even easier if we go a step further, namely accounting offices can use automatic OCR that works "in the background". It consists in the fact that the client places documents on the Dropbox disk connected to the accounting system, and the machine independently processes the data and creates drafts of expenses without additional accounting interference.Thanks to this, accounting office employees save the time needed to process data in the case of basic OCR. The time savings can be seen with more customers and efficiency tests throughout the day.

Providing invoices in the form of photos

Another option that is becoming more and more popular among modern customers is scanning invoices with the phone using applications such as camskanner or Microsoft Office Lens (the program is available for Android and iOS) and sending them to a folder on a Google Drive or Dropbox, integrated with the accounting system . Scanning applications are useful in that they lighten the document or straighten the scan if the photo was taken at the wrong angle. This makes automatic invoice recognition more effective.

Optimal OCR workflow in an accounting office

There may be two cases in customer service: the customer provides paper documents or sends scans and photos of accounting documents at once.

Documents in electronic form

  1. the client scans documents and places files on his own Google Drive or Dropbox
  2. the accountant selects all files at the beginning of the next month and sends them to be read via OCR. Each posted document automatically goes to the client's disk to a special archive, thanks to which there will be no mistake with omitting or double posting of one of the documents. You can skip this step and go to the next one if you are using automatic OCR, thanks to which drafts of expenses are created without the intervention of an accountant
  3. the accountant only checks the correctness of the data and selects the appropriate accounting scheme
  4. documents are fully archived in electronic form

Paper documents

  1. the client provides the documents
  2. documents are sorted and scanned by an accounting office employee
  3. scanned files are downloaded to the accounting system where automatic invoice recognition takes place
  4. the accountant only checks the correctness of the data and selects the appropriate accounting scheme
  5. documents are fully archived in electronic form and the client can be returned the paper version

Program for reading invoices

Currently, there are many external programs that can read invoices. Often they even have the option of importing to a selected accounting system. However, a more convenient solution is the automatic entry of invoices - a function plugged directly into the accounting system. Only the best accounting systems have such a solution. The advantages of this type of function include:

  • no need to perform additional activities related to attaching files to an external website and importing them to the accounting system,
  • the possibility of adding invoice scans to the accounting system by the client on an ongoing basis,
  • OCR support also from mobile devices such as tablets or phones, as long as the files with invoice scans have already been added to the accounting system.

OCR and savings for an accounting office

Scanning invoices to the accounting software allows for real savings. First of all, in the case of customers who use scans of documents, there is no need to print them. Automatic invoice recognition allows you to develop an accounting process that bypasses the need to create a paper version, which translates into saving toner, paper and reducing the use of office equipment.

The second advantage of the OCR function for accounting offices is the lack of the need to involve highly qualified people for manual data entry. Accountants are able to settle companies faster or to provide services to a larger number of companies at the same time. The OCR function allows you to process nearly 400 invoices in an hour. The posting itself does not cause so much fatigue, because you do not have to look from the monitor screen to the paper document in front of us every now and then.

In order to test the real time savings on data entry, it would be necessary to try on one full accounting day between typing data manually and automatically entering invoices. It must be taken into account that fatigue and thus possible mistakes when entering data manually usually appear after a few hours of work.

Another example of savings is minimizing the risk of error in the entered data. When rewriting data quickly, it is not difficult to make a mistake in the amount of "one zero". On the other hand, with the entry into force of the obligation to send JPK VAT files monthly, the very error in the document number causes the need to correct it. Posting invoices using the OCR function allows you to minimize these types of problems.

Office owners also don't have to worry about cabinets overflowing with paperwork. The entire archive will be in the accounting system with 24/7 access.

Full electronic document workflow

Thanks to the OCR function for accounting offices, it is possible to transfer all documentation to an electronic version. If the client delivers documents in the form of scans, there is no need to print them at any stage of the work. The files are attached to the accounting system, marked for processing by OCR and posted. Under each posted expense there is a scan of the source document so that you can preview it at any time. If, on the other hand, the accounting office uses double verification of posted documents, the checking person may as well handle the scans of invoices only, thanks to the tax checking option.