The Road to Touchless Processing: Step 3, Define Your Metrics

A Refresher

This is the fourth blog post in a series on touchless processing.  In the first post, I likened touchless processing to the parable of the six blind men and the elephant.  Almost every AP Manager has heard the phrase, yet there is no consistent understanding of what constitutes real touch processing.  The second post discussed training the OCR.  Rigorous training is an essential step towards achieving true touchless processing.  It is time consuming, prone to exceptions, and never truly “done.”  We recognized this problem early on, and that’s why we developed invoice “training-as-a-service.”  The third post introduced the concept of a rule set.  Touchless processing operates according to a set of best practice “rules” defined by the users of the system.  Rules need to be defined and instrumented within your AP automation solution.


Now that training is complete and a rule set has been preliminarily defined, it’s time to define a set of metrics to instrument touchless processing.  By “instrument” I mean “manage.”  Think of an instrument panel on a dashboard, with various metrics that indicate how well the process is working and where an AP Manager should focus his/her attention.

The process of defining and refining rules is necessarily iterative.  If tolerances are set too low, every invoice becomes an exception. Too high, and you risk compromising the integrity of the approval process.   Metrics are required to tune and manage the process.  As a wise professor I worked with once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

What metrics should be included on the instrument panel?  Well, it depends based on the organization and the rule set.  Generally speaking, metrics should include the following:

What’s next

According to the Aberdeen, the average invoice takes 14.2 days to fully process. That is a surprising statistic given the strides made in automating other parts of a business. AP automation and touchless processing technology holds great promise.  It can improve both the quality and the quality of invoice processing and help companies close the books faster and more accurately.   Staff can be realigned with more pressing projects that return a higher value to the business and provide more rewarding, less mundane, career options. For instance, sophisticated invoice fraud schemes were recently exposed at Google and Facebook. The AP staff is well equipped to analyzes invoices and confirm their provenance.