Handling documents such as invoices is part of a typical business process. For councils who handle adult social care, these invoices can go into the thousands. This is often a time-consuming process that clogs up your administrator’s time.

With modern technology and AI, using cognitive services and leveraging Microsoft’s ecosystem such as Office 365 and the Power Platform, you could save up to two weeks of time every month in your administration department.

The best bit: you don’t need to be a developer to achieve this. By transforming your document driven process, not only will you be able to save hours of staff time, you’ll also be able to extract data for reporting purposes and use the insights to make more informed business decisions.

Working smarter with the help of technology

Male office worker looking at monitor on desk (screen not shown). A open Surface Laptop is also on his desk (screen not shown).Imagine receiving 5,000 paper/electronic invoices each month. In the context of adult social care, it’s likely to be a lot higher than this for some councils.

These invoices need to be receipted and reconciled to extract key information such as invoice date, invoice number, total amount, invoice sender, and recipient. This data would then typically be stored in an Excel file.

Could you imagine how long this manual process would take? An admin would have to extract the data from a PDF received via email and then copy it across to the Excel file.

Now, let’s assume we could find a way to improve this process and only save one minute per each invoice. That would be a saving of 5,000 minutes. 83 hours every month for a single business process. Imagine what else you could achieve with that time instead.

Here is how we do it:

In SharePoint Online:

  • Create a Document library.
  • Add columns for the fields you want to extract from the documents.

In PowerApps:

  • In AI Builder create a ‘Form Processing’ model.
  • Add sample documents to train the model.
  • Select the fields you want to use from the document that have been identified.
  • Publish the model.

In Power Automate:

  • Create a Solution.
  • Create a FLOW inside the Solution using the trigger when a file is created in Sharepoint.
  • Edit the FLOW to orchestrate the data extraction from AI builder to SharePoint Online (this FLOW only has five steps at minimum to run).

You will be surprised how easy it is. Best of all, this requires no coding experience. We’ve got some great documentation to further help you use the AI Builder.

Driving innovation with data-driven insights

Man and woman interacting with a Surface Pro laptop.With the AI builder and Power Platform, many business processes can be improved or even fully automated. This also enables you to harness the data to generate insights, drive innovation and boost efficiencies.

Such a data process as described here, only takes about two to three hours to build. Not only does it save time and reduce cost, but it also reduces the error rate by eliminating the need to manually key in or transfer data from one system to another.

Making the data available in Office 365 greatly improves the business productivity and creates opportunities to achieve more. A very simple step to become a data driven organisation.

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About the author

Bjoern Hirtenjohann headshotBjoern is an experienced IT professional, working in the UK Public Sector team. He looks after Local and Regional Government organisations to help them with their digital transformation. As an Account Technology Strategist, he is a senior member of the enterprise Account Team across 3 territories and focus mainly on C-Level engagements.

Bjoern is passionate about all Microsoft technology – in particular the Power Platform and Azure Data, AI and IoT services.

Technology is so powerful and versatile today but many organisations struggle to keep up or grasp what is possible to improve and transform the business processes. This is my mission to help overcome these gaps.