New technologies are developing rapidly to automate company processes. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a tool that fits perfectly with this approach, since this technique allows a computer system to recognise text automatically.
Although subject to certain limitations due to its recent launch, this innovation is a real time-saver when processing expenses claims.
OCR and expenses claims
This technique could prove very useful in expenses claims management by automating the entry of expenses. No more manual entry with a build-up of receipts that can easily be misplaced. With OCR, all the user has to do is take a photo of their expenses receipt so that information such as date, total amount, VAT, currency and type of expense can be recognised by the software. Then the software will relay this information to the travel expenses management solution.
This technique, when mastered, can significantly optimise the business expenses entry process:
- Saves time (entries reduced to a minimum);
- Easy to monitor (reduces entry errors, for example);
- Improves the user experience
As a result, the employees’ role is simply to check that the information is correct. They complete fields relating to analytical information/variables (project code, assignment, etc.) not available on the receipt.
Companies particularly like the overall reduction in processing costs.
The technology has markedly improved and achieved almost flawless recognition of printed documents.
What are its known limitations?
Obviously, software cannot read handwritten documents with the same accuracy as humans. This is the case for handwritten taxi receipts, for example. However, this profession is also going digital and more and more taxi and chauffeured car drivers are issuing electronic receipts.
Carpark tickets can sometimes be problematic for OCR. Information that is hard to read, written in several directions or even superimposed makes the task difficult for machines.
In this case, the employee must manually enter fields that have not been recognised. However, the receipt will already have been scanned and stored in the tool (it even has probative value for the tax authorities).
Some OCR software programs are already achieving impressive results with 90% of receipts being entered in a fully automated way, compared to 75% for others. Of course, they still need to be checked by humans, but they allow great optimisation of the expenses claims entry process. This makes life easier for users and improves data entry quality for the company.