What’s the Best Technology to Extract Data from the Scanned Invoices?

Technology to extract data from the scanned invoices-- or from invoices you've been emailed-- has seen vast improvements in recent years. Template based approaches are a thing of the past. Let's dive into what a modern data extraction system should look like.
January 28, 2023
12 minutes
Technology to extract data from the scanned invoices helps you make sense of all then umbers
Technology to extract data from the scanned invoices helps you make sense of all then umbers

Table of Contents

You’ve heard about technological advances that allow you to extract all the data you want from scanned invoices at the click of a button. You’re frustrated with the way it’s still done at your firm: manual data extraction, maybe, or perhaps some old-school technology that just isn’t dependable. What is the best data extraction technology out there, and is it ready to incorporate into your workflow?

We’ve got good news for you. Not only does high-performing data extraction software exist, it’s user-friendly and ready for enterprise-level use. No longer do you need a degree in data science and software engineering to automate data extraction: all the work is already done for you, and invoice processing can be completed in less time than it takes to prep a cup of coffee. 

Here we’ll look at one of the best solutions out there: Affinda, based on artificial intelligence and deep learning. Before we do that, let’s back up a little. Just what is invoice data extraction software, and why is it so important to businesses today? 

What is invoice data extraction software and why does it matter?

Invoice data extraction software is data capture software that automates invoice processing by extracting data directly from scanned invoices. No manual data entry is required, making it both quick and low-cost. Essentially, you feed a stack of scanned invoices to the software, and it processes them and provides you with a database in which all the key data is neatly organized. This can be directly incorporated with your accounting system for full accounts payable automation.

What this means is that your staff no longer has to do the time-consuming job they hate worst of all: manual entry. It also means you no longer have to worry about the random inaccuracies that tired employees insert into your accounting system. Automated systems are more accurate than a human working on invoice processing, and a good invoice processing solution will be able to provide a confidence level for each invoice processed so that you can go back and double-check anything that might be problematic. 

The Invoice Extraction Software You Don’t Need

That doesn’t mean you should sign up with the first invoice data extractor you find on a google search.  Old-school invoice capture programs relied on templates, keywords, or an elaborate kind of guesswork, and the results were patchy at best. 

The main problem with template-based approaches is that they just aren’t flexible enough for the wide variety of invoices you’re likely to receive on a regular basis. They work accurately if and only if the invoice being parsed is a close match to a template already filed within the software system, and there are only so many templates your staff is going to want to make.  Whenever you get a template that varies from the accepted mold or which includes language not recognized by the extractor, you’ll end up with inaccurate parsing and error messaging. Because of all the babysitting required, template-based invoice extraction systems are also hard to scale up. Though you can use them to generate database files from scanned or emailed invoices they typically are quite difficult to integrate into an AP automation. 


How Affinda’s Invoice Extractor works

The best data extraction technology skips templates altogether to focus on the actual semantic meaning of every word on the page. This gives it high accuracy and unique flexibility. Here’s one example of an effective AI tool in action.

 Affinda’s invoice extractor starts with optical character recognition OCR technology. Pattern recognition is used to translate the image taken by a scanner to letters, numbers, words, and formatting. Then Affinda’s deep neural network uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to make sense of the words on the page, reading it much like a human would. Everything is taken into account: layout on the page, whitespace, and the words themselves. 

Rather than simply compare templates or use a search function to locate keywords and pull them into a database, the deep learning software uses natural language processing to read the invoice much as a human being would.  Just as a new employee learns more about his workflow with each day on the job, Affinda’s machine learning modules are in a continuous self-improvement cycle that makes it better every time it is used. This cutting-edge AI technology allows us to provide accuracy and speed that were unheard of not long ago.

With a modern AI solution like Affinda’s invoice processor, you’ll be able to have full confidence that your invoice data is always complete, accurate, and up to date.

Benefits of using modern AI-based invoice data capture for intelligent document processing:

  • Able to process any type of invoice
  • More accurate results
  • Built-in confidence metrics and alerts
  • More efficient data processing
  • Seamless integration with existing accounts payable software. 

Affinda’s program, built by some keen AI aficionados who love to take advantage of all the newest and best things happening in tech today, is going to be your best bet when it comes to extracting data from scanned invoices. There are other options, but nothing as flexible, light, easy to use, and out-and-out reliable. As an extra bonus, it has one of the coolest support teams on the planet. Here’s how you’d add it to your AP toolkit.

Using Data Extraction Tech in Your Accounts Payable Workflow

Affinda’s invoice extraction software was made to be easy to use and can be incorporated into whatever accounts payable system you’re already using. Your extracted data will be used to fill all the appropriate fields in your system, getting you all set up for full robotic process automation if that's the direction you want to be going. 

How does it work? To start with, we’ve got an easy to use API that can be incorporated into your favorite accounting software by your developer. Simple, well-documented commands and triggers along with well-developed client libraries  C#/.NET, Java, Javascript Python, and Node.js. make this easy. Think of these libraries as thin wrappers around the API that handles making the requests, as well as the authentication and signing needed.

Sound complicated, as if it was more than you’d want to get into just to automate data extraction? No worries, there are no-tech integrations for those who’d rather go that route. For instance,  we’ve also got an instant Zapier connection all ready to go as well as a plug-and-play connection to Xero and Quickbooks. There’s no coding required for any of it, and your automation will be up and running in no time.

But maybe you’re not quite ready to commit to anything just yet, and you’d just like to see what data extraction AI can do with your invoices. That’s perfectly alright, and we’ve got something for you too. If you go to https://www.affinda.com/invoice-extractor, you can try out the drag-and-drop web interface, 100% free. There’s no signup required, and you can bulk upload as many as 25 files at once. Here’s how you do it.

Using a Free Online Data Extraction Tool

First, make sure you’ve scanned your invoices and know where they are.   The online tool can accept pdf, .doc, .docx, .odt, .png and .jpg formats, so whatever your invoice scanning software spits out will probably work.

Got your scanned invoice, or scanned invoices? Here’s the easy four step procedure:

  1. Navigate to the online tool with your web browser; https://www.affinda.com/invoice-extractor
  2. Drag and drop your files onto the large field you’ll see front and center, or use the button to choose them with the file manager. You can do up to 25 files at once; if you have more to process, you can split them into sets of 25 or fewer. Note these invoices do have to be in English; if you’d like to parse in another language you’ll need to upgrade from the free tool. 
  3. Progrèss bars will show your invoices uploading and then processing. When it’s finished, you can click “Export all” to export your choice of an Excel file, a JSON file, or an XML.
  4. Review the files and admire the way that Affinda’s Vega engine has made sense of the unstructured data in your invoices and turned them into neatly structured data your accounting system can take to the next level.

The online tool is a great option for trialing, and though it’s free, our staff would love to help you if you run into problems using it. But if you are serious about invoice extraction, you’ll want to schedule a demo of the full ride. It’s just that much more power, that much more customizability, and that much easier to use. It’s got confidence levels, for one, and a very handy viewing tool that allows you to view the parsed invoice line-by-line. Should you come across any inaccuracies, you’ll be able to correct them right there— and the built-in continuous learning modules will take note and ensure the same problem never happens twice. 

What is the best technology to extract data from the scanned invoices? It’s a high-powered AI engine named Vega that powers a user-friendly software option we call Affinda. Affinda’s invoice extractor, ready to be put to work on your invoices.

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The world’s most accurate AI data extraction for accounts payable.

Easily extract data from even the most complex invoices. Quickly and successfully process batch of invoices in PDFs, DOC, PNG, and JPG. Affinda Invoice Extractor recognises 50+ fields on the first go – and it only gets better from there.

Extract data from your receipts swiftly and with precision. Make reimbursement and expense tracking easy. Utilise an AI receipt scanning that understands formatting and layouts it has never been exposed to before.

Our team of skilled AI experts thrives on challenges. Feel free to send your unique document processing requirements our way and we can design a custom‑made solution for you.

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