A person working at a laptop, presumably using intelligent document processing

What is intelligent document processing?

Data has reached a saturation point. Organisations today often have so much data that it’s difficult to decipher what’s valuable information and what’s just noise. Mining vast amounts of data for actionable insights can be costly and time-consuming. That’s where intelligent document processing, or IDP, comes into play.

Intelligent document processing (IDP) is a workflow automation technology that scans, reads, extracts, categorises, and organises meaningful information into accessible formats from large streams of data. The technology can process many different types of documents: papers, PDFs, Word docs, spreadsheets, and a multitude of other formats. The primary function of IDP is to extract valuable information in large sets of data without human input.

There are several advantages to automating some of your document processing through IDP. Through artificial intelligence, IDP can eliminate the need for manual data entry and processing workers. This not only increases the speed at which data can be processed but decreases the cost to do so—while also reducing human error for greater efficiency.

Modern organisations typically have high volumes of three types of data: structured, unstructured, and semi-structured. Structured data is organised and more easily read by human data processors. Unstructured data, on the other hand, is time-consuming to process and analyse. Semi-structured data falls in between. Intelligent document processing solutions are capable of automating data processing for structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data.

How does intelligent document processing work?

There are a few steps to intelligent document processing.

It starts with intelligent document recognition, when IDP uses complex deep-learning AI technology to scan documents and classify them. This technology can be trained in up to 190 languages and is capable of reading and interpreting documents much like a data processing worker would.

After your data is classified, intelligent document automation software begins to extract the data of value to your organisation. Extraction is accomplished through cognitive AI technologies that identify specific pieces of data from the larger document. IDP then organises the relevant data and presents it in an easily accessible format.

If your organisation has large amounts of structured, semi-structured, or unstructured data, intelligent document processing is an investment worth considering as part of your business process management strategy.

Benefits of intelligent document processing

Intelligent document processing has been demonstrated to improve business processes and increase team efficiency. Here are a few of the key advantages to automating your document processing:

  • Increase the accuracy of your processing with intelligent document processing. The rate of error for human data processors is much higher than it is for IDP.
  • Lower the cost of processing documents by automating some of your workflows. On average, manual document processing costs 6 to 8 dollars per document. The per-document cost of automated document processing is considerably lower than that.
  • Increase employee productivity by offering them the opportunity to do more impactful work. Without the need to process mindlessly time-consuming documents, employees are free to direct their attention elsewhere.

What is the difference between intelligent document processing and automated document processing?

Automated document processing is a related, but very different technology from IDP. Automated document processing is used primarily to digitalise paper documents. Creating digital copies of paper documents allows them to be indexed and become searchable within a database. This is critical for organisations like the DMV that rely on paper documentation but need their data digitized.

Intelligent document processing is a business process management software that’s capable of digitizing and indexing paper documents, but also goes several steps beyond that in separating valuable information and providing insights from the data in paper documents (or any other type), rather than just computerised access to them.

How to choose intelligent document processing software

There are a few steps to choosing the best intelligent document processing software for your organisation.

  1. The first step in choosing an IDP is identifying the data processing needs of your organisation. Do you have more structured or unstructured data? What format is most of your data in? How much of your data processing do you want to automate?
  2. Next, you should assess which of your data would be ideal for intelligent document processing. Consider how time-consuming each of your data sets is to process, and which would most benefit your organisation through being automated. The documents that take the longest to manually process may be good candidates for IDP.
  3. Once you’ve identified the document processing workflows you want to automate, you’re ready to decide on intelligent document processing software. You should make your decision based on the demand for automation and the requirements your organisation has for automated document processing. Here are some questions you might ask to inform your choice:
  • How quickly can the intelligent document automation solution be implemented?
  • How easily can the software be maintained?
  • What level of support does the software company provide for their intelligent document automation services?
  • Can the intelligent document recognition technology in the software read all the documents your organisation wants to process?
  • Is the accuracy of the software going to significantly improve your error rate?

Use cases for intelligent document processing

IDP is used across industries. Here are some intelligent document processing use cases:

  • Finance departments can automate purchase ledger functions such as processing invoices.
  • Human resources departments can process resumes, screen employees, and process employee surveys and other HR data with IDP.
  • Government agencies manage permits, issue e-documents, and process applications with intelligent document processing software.
  • Insurance companies use automation document processing to process claims, detect fraud, triage insurance policies, and expedite your organisation’s document processing.
  • Law firms can process, archive, and manage legal data with higher accuracy than manual document processing using IDP.

These are just a few of the sectors where intelligent document processing is used to expedite and improve data processing workflows. If you’re working with the right software, IDP has a broad range of applications and benefits for most organisations.

Simplify document processing with Microsoft Power Automate

By using intelligent document processing in your organisation, you’ll be able to collect useful data from your documents with less human error, at a lower cost. As IDP frees your employees from large volumes of tedious data processing, it will extract meaningful data insights for you in easy-to-use, accessible formats.

IDP is just one of the workflow automations enabled by Power Automate that eliminates repetitive tasks and makes work more efficient. With low-code, drag-and-drop tools, Power Automate can help you create innovative ways to get things done.

Frequently asked questions

What is intelligent document processing?

Intelligent document processing (IDP) is a workflow automation technology that scans, reads, extracts, and organises meaningful information from large streams of data.

How does intelligent processing work?

Intelligent document processing uses intelligent document recognition technology to classify documents, then processes their data with pattern recognition technology. After the document is processed, IDP software extracts meaningful data and assembles it into an accessible format.

What are the benefits of intelligent document processing?

Intelligent document processing is shown to increase the accuracy, efficiency, and speed of data processing for organisations across industries.

What is the difference between intelligent document processing and automated document processing?

Automated document processing is used primarily to digitize paper documents. Intelligent document processing fully processes many different types of documents and organises their relevant data, negating the need for human data processors.

How do I implement intelligent document processing software?

Implementing intelligent document software begins with an assessment of your document processing workflows to determine which ones can be automated. Once you know the documents you want to automate, you should identify the workflows that require the highest level of accuracy and begin your automation with them.

What are some use cases for intelligent document processing?

Intelligent document processing can be used across industries, from insurance companies to government agencies, to expedite and refine the processing of many different types of data.