Invoice OCR in Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Recently, Encore hosted an event: “What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2017”. We presented the best new Features in Dynamics NAV 2017, including Invoice Optical Character Recognition (OCR). enjoy!

Video will start playing at the correct point in the presentation.


This is actually a feature that was released in 2016, but it got enhanced in 2017. So I don’t know if you guys know, but you own NAV 2016 or above, you can have 75 invoices converted from PDFs and keyed in as payables a month for free as part of owning NAV. So this is along the lines of those E-services I talked about. So when I think about the power of the cloud for SMB businesses, it’s not putting your service in the cloud. It’s the ability to consume these cloud-based services that are really democratizing some of these things.

So, you know, even 10 years ago there were companies that did this. Instead of keying in their invoices, they would get scanned converted to data and automatically entered into their accounting system. But, you know, even five years ago, you could talk to somebody like at Xerox, they’d come in, you’d spend 100 grand and you have a system to do that.

Now with NAV you get 75 a month for free, if you need more you buy a package and maybe it’s another \$5 or \$10 or something. If you guys are familiar with Lexmark, remember Lexmark printers? Anybody have any in their office today? A few still? Okay. Their biggest business today is this OCR business. They run a huge cloud-based service used by tens of thousands of customers all around the world that don’t want to key in an invoice. So we work them and we’ve set that up so that our customers can easily consume that service. So you’ll see a bit more of this probably later.

So under Service Connections, there’s a bunch of Service Connections that I’ve enabled. This is just one example of them. So to setup the OCR service you go to Lexmark site, you sign up, you get a username and a password, and you walk through this little setup, you put your username, your password. That’s about it. Takes about three or four minutes, and then let’s take a look at what that look like. So I can go to my incoming documents, and I’m gonna do this in a very manual way. You get an email address where you could tell all your vendors to send all their invoices. How many of you get most of your invoices by PDFs and emails today? Not very many? A few? Okay.

So the extent to which your vendors are sending you PDF emails, most of them are probably capable of it, if you ask. It goes to an email address and all of what I’m about to show you can happen automatically in one step. But just to go through, let’s say I grab a PDF invoice. We’ll take a quick look at that. So basically, you know a pretty simple invoice, line item, that kind of thing. Basically, you send it out to the OCR service and you can automate that step with the Workflow in NAV. There’s already a workflow template to automate those steps, and then you have to wait a few minutes and you can go back and receive that document. So I’m gonna see if it’s ready. Not yet.


Okay. And I put some workflow to automatically do the next step, which is Create Document. It automatically created the document after it came back successfully. And if I take a look, I now purchased invoice. The enhancement in 2017 was the ability to deal with line items. Okay. Line items, it could deal with before but they were entered as G/L. It can actually recognize items now and create payables that involve items.

So, you know, in 2016 you could use it for things like your Bell bill or those types of expense-type invoices but not really for purchase-order-type transactions and item. Now it’ll support both. So if you are already using it that’s the change in 2017. So you can use it a bit more broadly. And then, it’s also gotten smarter.

So when I first did that invoice, three times ago, because you can see I’ve done it three times, it didn’t recognize a vendor. So I had to tell who the vendor name was and then I click this button, Send OCR Feedback, and it goes back to Lexmark OCR service and it improves. And next time I did it, it knew who the vendor was. So because it knows the data that they’re saying, if I get this combination of data, I now know it’s this vendor, and so it’s very easy to setup. It’s not like you spend a ton of time trying to map different invoice formats to data and things like that. It’s quite smart in terms of how it works. So that’s an example of that E-service integration that started 2016 and got a little better here.

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