While most intelligent document processing (IDP) solutions work behind-the-scenes, measuring return on investment (ROI) is more than just factoring time and materials costs. A project should only be pursued if it is supported by a well-reasoned business case. The outcome is the most important part of the journey.
Because IDP solutions will grow to solve new use-cases, understanding the total cost of ownership is vital for determining ROI.
What is the Total Cost of Ownership for IDP?
Total cost of ownership comes from the following:
These costs depend on the complexity of the project.
This Article Covers the Following Topics:
- How to Ensure Return on Investment for IDP
- Where Does ROI Come From
- 8 Critical Features of IDP
The cost of licensing is the easiest to determine because it is based on:
- Subscription model
- Multi-year commitments
- Page volume
- Hosting (on-prem or cloud-based)
The cost of development is a one-time cost that includes consulting, planning, design, testing, and deployment. Some development costs to keep in mind:
- Infrastructure – server, storage, and network configurations plus IT labor
- Line of business – subject matter expert time, change management, and validating ROI
- Training – for developers and end-users
Once an IDP solution has been built, there are costs associated with maintaining it. These will vary based on subscription and deployment methods and should include the following:
- Infrastructure– software license renewals and infrastructure support
- Post-production – incident management and ongoing development
- Change management – re-assessment of business processes and ongoing training
- Storage – maintenance, backup, and disaster recovery planning
How to Ensure Return on Investment with Intelligent Document Processing
The most important factor affecting return on investment is maintaining a commitment to support the solution with both technical and business resources. This is a power duo that consistently accomplishes great outcomes.
Intelligent document processing excels at automating manual data entry from documents. With an almost never-ending supply of unstructured data, you will receive increasing ROI by maintaining focus on establishing new use-cases for extracting new data sets and achieving new business outcomes.
For example, if your initial IDP deployment was for accounts payable automation, turn your focus to human resources workflows. Expand to other departments like legal, procurement, and operations; and to new market innovations by unlocking electronic data contained in PDFs, logs, reports, and other transactional data.
Where Does Return on Investment Come From?
Three primary sources of ROI:
- Workflow / staffing – increased accuracy, efficiency, and cost reduction
- Customer experience – increase retention and satisfaction
- Innovation – bringing new or better solutions to market faster
Just one of these may be enough to justify an IDP solution.
How Intelligent Document Processing Delivers Better Business Outcomes
Increasing revenue and achieving better business outcomes is the goal of all technology. It’s important to look at exactly how intelligent document processing delivers promised results.
Below are 8 Key Features of IDP
1. Image Cleanup
Because IDP extracts data from documents, one of the most critical capabilities is preparing documents to be “read” by software. Accuracy and quality are only as good as the software’s ability to read and understand the text.
In fact, the same image cleanup commands that are used to make documents machine readable are also used to make another cleaned-up version that’s easier for humans to read. This is great for older documents or those that have been printed, scanned, emailed, printed again, passed around the office, scanned again…you get the point.
2. Optical Character Recognition
Optical character recognition (OCR) is at the heart of all IDP solutions. What’s critical with OCR is not which OCR engine is used, but the intelligent combination of multiple engines. Enterprise IDP solutions perceive OCR accuracy and therefore do not need human intervention to choose which OCR engine will provide the best results.
When accuracy is below a certain confidence score, the software will automatically choose another OCR engine and apply it to the low accuracy text. This is repeated until the highest accuracy of text recognition is achieved. The software will then synthesize all results together. This is the only way to achieve 99+% OCR accuracy.
3. Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing
Machines are only as smart as their programming. Data extraction using templates programmed to find information in a specific place on the document will easily break if the document layout is unexpected or has changed (a good example is a faxed form that arrives in an unexpected format). Therefore, data extraction must use machine learning to intelligently identify both the document’s type (invoice, purchase order, lease, etc.) and specific information within the document.
And you can’t have robust machine learning without built-in natural language processing (NLP). NLP should not be used as an add-on software module because it’s critical in all aspects of document classification and data extraction. NLP is more than just a “library” of known words. With NLP, data extraction is based on things like sentiment analysis (interpreting and classifying emotions), and text tagging (part-of-speech, named entity, and features within the document).
4. Transparent Artificial Intelligence
There is real risk involved with using intelligent technology like machine learning and neural nets. If the machine makes an error it must be quickly identified and corrected. This is only possible with IDP platforms that use transparent artificial intelligence (AI). It is also how the machine learns and gets better over time.
Transparent AI shows software designers exactly how conclusions were drawn when the machine made a choice about document identification or information extraction. With the ability to “see” the training data, changes are made with predictable results. Eliminating mysteries is vital for IDP to be trusted.
5. Taking Advantage of Modern Processing Power
For massive data extraction projects, multiple simultaneous transactions must happen within the software. This is called parallel processing. Very large projects, or projects that must happen within a short timeframe, take advantage of as many computer processors as possible to complete work quicker.
This comes in many forms. Some organizations take advantage of computer processing available in-house (like unused computer labs or servers), or in the cloud with elastically expanding resources. Taking advantage of all available hardware or compute-power is never a limitation with IDP.
6. Enabling Human Review
No machine or human is perfect. The ultimate goal of IDP is to deliver 100% accurate data. This is achievable by providing a built-in review phase that enables humans to review extracted data before it is integrated into workflows and other line of business software applications.
Fields flagged for human review are based on things like mathematical validations that don’t add up, extraction accuracy thresholds that are below a set percentage, or failing to validate with external sources (like databases). By serving up only questionable data for review, a single worker will validate immensely more data in a day than a team of people manually hand-keying in document information.
7. Software Integration
To meet demands of complex workflows, IDP solutions will integrate with virtually any enterprise software application. This is important for validating information and for putting extracted information into the systems that need it. IDP will output data in the format of your choice to ensure information governance is in alignment with your master data model.
Data and documents exist within many silos in every organization. With the ability to access and process (extract / redact) this data without manually moving it around, an immense amount of time is saved while achieving desired business outcomes. IDP processes data where it rests, whether in the cloud, or in local storage.
8. Rapid Deployment
For IDP to deliver on promised ROI, it must provide the capability to build, test, and deploy in a single, seamless interface that provides fast time to data migration. Additionally, deployment must be scalable to new use-cases within your organization. ROI is difficult to justify for data extraction technology that only works on one document type, or must be “cobbled together” to attempt a fit with another document type or workflow.
IDP is state-of-the-art technology and scalable to any document-based workflow and any document type. There are no technical limitations to the quantity of documents or the number of fields extracted. IDP will scale up to the daily extraction of billions of data fields.
Intelligent document processing should provide a proven return on investment for automating critical workflows and data extraction or it should not be used.