What is OCR? Do I need OCR Software?

In Process Improvement, Sage 200, Sage Financials by Andrew Jones

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Before I explain what OCR is, I’d like to share a bit of personal history. In the not too distant past, I was that guy. You know? That guy employed by an SME for the single, repetitive purpose of entering data into financial management software. Just endlessly plucking out the data from invoices, receipts, expenses and everything in between. So, I’ve been there, done it and witnessed first-hand the problem with manual data entry that many SME owners don’t even realise they have.

The problem? Well, I’m not going to sugar coat it, manual data entry is just a painful and tedious process. It’s repetitive, slow, costly and prone to hooman erraw (oops!) human error. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way! The technology to automate the data entry process is out there and readily available to all SMEs looking to improve this process.

What does OCR stand for?

I’m talking about Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Think of it as giving your accounting package a pair of eyes. OCR software reads invoices and receipts for relevant data and feeds it directly into the accounting software. The obvious benefit of utilising this technology is the potential time that could be saved. Hours, maybe even days could be saved every week by automating data entry admin.

What’s important to realise is that the value proposition of OCR stretches far beyond saving time. There are other significant benefits to be had from implementing this automated business process:

Reduce the cost of data entry

Take a moment to consider what’s costing your business more – the financial management software or the data entry? You may be employing someone or a team of people specifically for entering data. When you think about, the cost of data entry is a very significant expense. OCR automation saves a huge amount of man-hours, that by extension will save on the data entry expense. You could remedy this problem by hiring more qualified staff or training current members. Time may very well be saved but the expense of qualifications and training will bring you back right back to square one.

Focus on your business

The last thing you want to be focusing on is data entry. As necessary as it is, it’s not going to contribute to the success and growth of the business. The time saved from OCR automation allows you and your staff to focus on much more important objectives. Your business is your passion, not data entry.

Cut out the human error

Whether you process invoices and receipts yourself, via a junior staff member or even a qualified one, there are always mistakes to be made. Again, I’m speaking from experience here! Human error only adds to the time, as well as cost, it takes to get invoice and receipt data into the accounting software. By using OCR technology, the mistakes are taken out of the process. No more typos, no more misreads, no need to trawl through mountains of paperwork to identify discrepancies (if the paperwork hasn’t been lost in the first place!).

Be happier

That’s right, be happier! It comes back to focusing more on your business. If you’re doing a lot of the data entry work yourself, it’s difficult to finish working at a reasonable hour, let alone focus on growing your business. Your employees will also be happier focusing on more purposeful tasks that contribute to business success and growth. It’s better than slaving on data admin all day every day!

Are there OCR options for Sage?

Absolutely! Sage 200c integrates with an OCR called PaperLess, while Sage Financials uses an OCR called AutoEntry. Both options integrate seamlessly and feed the data directly into Sage for your convenience.

Is it time for your business to embrace OCR?

As you can see, the benefits of using OCR technology are more far-reaching than just saving time. It’s about creating more efficient processes that in turn saves the business money and frees up resources for other areas. If you want to spend less time on data admin, make your business more scalable, or even run a paperless office, then OCR software will be a key strategic tool.

It can be a daunting prospect changing any business process that you and your team are familiar with. However, there are big rewards to be had for what is a relatively small change. The team here at itas can help take your business processes to the next level with OCR advice, implementation, and training. Please feel free to contact a member of our friendly team for a chat on how your business could benefit from OCR.