Our Founder & Chief Vision Officer, Jesper Kehlet, had the opportunity to sit down with Formpipe‘s Head of Customer Success, Ben Saxton, to discuss utilizing Input Management to optimize document processing on the latest episode of “Beyond The Document.”
When we think of input management, we often think of just the document. But the document is only the tip of the iceberg. During the episode, the two experts provide insight on every aspect of input management and truly go beyond the document. Below, we have provided a few of the questions and answers from their conversation.
Q: Many of our listeners have knowledge and experience with output management solutions and projects, but input management often gets overlooked. That leaves them with more of a laborious process in place. Of the various projects that you’ve been involved with over your time, what has really triggered the need or action by the client?
A: The need has been triggered by a desire to optimize processes in order to reduce cost. Especially in Europe, there is much more of a focus on trying to automate, to strip down extraneous cost and overhead. In the US we see more of the, “you just have to run faster to make more money” approach. In Europe, especially during the pandemic, there is much more focus on becoming more profitable. Which ultimately means, they want to eliminate errors and flaws in the process.
Q: You mentioned the logistics industry, which is one that produces high volume of documents. Is it safe to say that the higher the volume the stronger the argument?
A: There’s a certain threshold. Let’s say you receive ten purchase orders into your sales department every month and you are low volume, high value. It may be that you sell industrial sized freezers or something that is a million dollars a unit and you only sell a few a month. Input management probably isn’t going to be where you’re going to be most effective in getting the processes automated. However, if you’re a company that sells plumbing products, for instance the Zurn (of the Jacuzzi brand). They supply millions of units of plumbing products a month. Which, as you can imagine creates a large amount of purchase orders – most of which come from smaller companies or contractors. They are either faxing in documents or sending in a PDF. This creates a very laborious manual entry process for the purchasing department and leaves a lot of room for error. Obviously, you want to be effective. You don’t want to send the wrong product or input the wrong price or quantity. In order to do that, you need to automate that to truly get the gains and efficiencies for your business.
Q: Input management has evolved and developed over the years so when you’re looking at the elimination of risk and efficiency being delivered, I guess that’s driven the solution even further?
A: Absolutely. In the ‘old days’ and quite frankly the old days was probably just a few years ago, because things move so fast, it would be a matter of training and OCR engine to properly recognize the documents that come through the same way every time. Now that we have AI machine learning products, you can basically have the product train itself to become more efficient. With this automation you no longer need a team of people correcting it and training it.
And when we look at the organizations that have multiple suppliers for example, it’s such a more efficient way of working.
Q: Coming from your experience, how have you best seen the data from inbound documentation used within an organization?
A: The clear examples of input have been to take a document, a purchase order, or a supplier invoice, and enter it into the system and that’s basically it. But if you think a little bit further, you can have employees submit expense receipts and they can be recognized and get put into the system automatically. Or even better, say you’re a company that custom builds products and someone wants to have you build something. You can have the engine set up to recognize the dimensions of the materials being used and have it automatically trigger a configuration or an engineering order on the backend that just has to be approved by the engineering department. This kind of automation can aid in expanding your product portfolio without really having a human intervention at all.
Or even if we work on the 80/20 rule. If we can pick up 80% of the traffic, we can focus on the 20% that usually falls out of the process, that’s a pretty good achievement.
Or even better, if you can train your system to keep getting better at automating these processes and getting customized products out, then maybe that 80/20 rule turns into a 95/5.
Q: Since you have vast experience in this – if you’re working with a business that is looking at input management for the first time, what would be your key one or two pieces of advice that you would give to them?
A: I would tell them to start out simple. Implement the product and take advantage of those quick gains and low hanging fruit. We have a customer right now that is looking at input management and is fearful of switching to an automated process. They are unsure if a system can recognize the data and do it correctly and worried it may replace jobs. The way we encourage them to look at it is, automating processes allows for employees to focus on other areas in the business that need more attention. This ultimately leads to better profitability and helps emphasize that automating processes isn’t to get rid of them, it’s to help them.
I believe in automation in the way that automation should not replace people. Automation should allow people to move on from the cumbersome areas of their jobs and do more exciting things.
The technology isn’t there to replace people, it’s there to add more value to what they are doing.
You can listen to the full input management episode of “Beyond the Document” with Jesper and Ben HERE or wherever you stream podcasts.