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Invoices, purchase orders, order confirmations, contracts, legal material, financial statements, HR-related paperwork … documents are an inescapable part of corporate life.

In large volumes, they can impede digital transformation – especially when semi-structured and unstructured documents are involved, as these can be hard to process fast and accurately.

Even just extracting the relevant data and entering it into your enterprise resource management (ERP) system can be tedious and time-consuming. Relying on manual data entry can introduce errors such as typos and missing information. In financial or legal documents, such errors can have significant consequences.

With an intelligent, automated system, you can take the “work” out of paperwork.

You can avoid document disasters

Common examples of mistakes that organizations make in document handling are:

  • Difficulties in locating and retrieving important documents. This can waste valuable time, while inconsistent naming conventions make it hard to identify and categorize files.
  • Insufficient version control practices can result in confusion and errors when multiple versions of a document are being worked on simultaneously.
  • Inadequate security measures for sensitive documents can lead to unauthorized access, data breaches and potential legal and compliance issues.
  • Neglecting to regularly back up important documents and not having a robust recovery plan in place can result in data loss in the event of hardware failure, natural disasters or cyberattacks.
  • Unclear document retention policies may lead to excessive and expensive storage costs and compliance risks.

However, you can manage documents in your organization efficiently and avoid these pitfalls without your employees having to spend all their time manually receiving, processing and sending out paperwork.

Automated document handling is rapidly becoming smarter. Now, most organizations can eliminate redundant or repetitive manual tasks in this regard and free up employees to focus on higher-value tasks.

A new era of document handling in SAP

MAKIRA is a cloud-based automated document-handling suite for SAP ERP clients, offered by NTT DATA Business Solutions. It combines three products into a solution that can automatically record, categorize and enrich most types of documents in your ERP system.

And, by combining robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning and AI, the system becomes smarter over time.

Traditional RPA solutions are often held back by the limits of optical character recognition technologies, varied document formats and the challenge of interpreting natural language. Advances in AI and machine learning are swiftly taking care of many of these issues, improving accuracy and speeding up processing rates.

Capture, attribute and approve: a trio of functionality

Many organizations might expect a range of immediate benefits from a migration to SAP ERP, but there is value in incorporating a product like MAKIRA to enhance the SAP-native functionality.

MAKIRA comprises the following:

  • MAKIRA Capture automates the processing of large volumes of documents such as order confirmations, invoices and purchase orders. It supports all document data formats and can receive data electronically, as a PDF or on paper. The data is analyzed and transferred to an SAP ERP – or another endpoint or application programming interface – in standard fields.
  • MAKIRA AI uses your organization’s stored data and applies AI and machine learning to automatically assign attributes such as accounting information, cost-center references or tax codes to incoming documents. This reduces the risk of manual accounting errors, and new employees need less training.
  • MAKIRA Approve automates document approvals within your SAP environment according to your own rules and workflow. You benefit from faster approvals and an optimized cash flow, along with a full document history and lower handling costs per document. You’ll never miss an early-payment discount again!

This level of automation means essential information is always up to date and available securely within your organization, in real time.

It’s a quick upgrade for organizations that are using at least SAP ERP Central Component 6.0 with SAP Enhancement Package 7. The implementation can be completed in as little as a week, depending on the status of your organization’s data and processes.

How to prepare for and measure value

When you’re implementing automated document handling in your organization, don’t get stuck in a series of task-level automations that create the illusion of value. Rather, adopt an automation-first mindset that includes reimagining your business processes.

An audit of your business processes will confirm whether you’ve implemented the right processes before trying to automate them. NTT DATA’s team of experts can assist in this regard.

Another possible challenge is the sense of loss of control when your organization has to let go of manual processes – some of which may have been in place for years – and trust the system to take over. Planning and change management – including training for staff – as part of a clear broader strategy will ease the transition.

Working with an experienced and reliable partner like NTT DATA will put you on the right path here, too. With a focus on innovation, from advisory and implementation to managed services and beyond, we’re always finding new ways of making SAP solutions work for organizations and their people.