How to Integrate ECM with ERP in your workplace

It’s always been a daunting, long, and pain-staking process finding the right solution(s), integrating, implementing, and then training the team to better your workflows or create new ones, if you haven’t already done so, within your organization. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is an elementary and fundamental way to get the ball rolling. In this article, we explain how to successfully integrate and implement your enterprise content management (ECM) with enterprise resource planning (ERP), using Accounts Payable (AP) as an example.

30. 6. 2015 Gradient

Whether you are in the private sector, commercial, or government, you all have administrative/internal back-office processes such as accounting and HR. Everyone has to pay their bills (sad but true…if you haven’t, you should get on top of that). Using Accounts Payable processing, we gather great insight, usually seen instantly, regarding at how efficient and positive the right planning and tools can have when looking into effective enterprise content management systems; one of the most widely used and easily adaptable – Microsoft SharePoint.

Microsoft SharePoint is incredibly versatile as it provides various functions which are traditionally separate applications: intranet, extranet, content management, document management, personal cloud, enterprise social networking, enterprise search, business intelligence, workflow management, and more. It is both available as an On-Premise Solution as well as cloud based in Office 365, making this very flexible to fit your needs, whether you are a small, mid-sized business to a larger enterprise. In the last decade or so, technology has made serious advancements and the all so popular App craze began on different platforms that slowly started to infiltrate other aspects of business life beyond personal. What was used on mobile platforms grew to tablets, desktops, and now individual programs, such as SharePoint, one of the largest ECM systems out there?

So how does the AP process fit in? Knowing its complexity, embedding procurement-to-pay and purchase-to-pay processes can be quite the headache, as things never go according to plan, and sometimes backtracking occurs and with papers, and that’s never a pretty mess. However, it can be quite simple, if you team up together some powerful tools. Organizations have been trying to digitize and automate their AP processes since the first scanner even appeared. Though, digitizing documents is usually the first step, we see that time and time again organizations either have a standalone solution, or those eager to advance have tried to acquire high-quality scanners thinking at least they’ll have scanned copies, and they can see their invoices stored somewhere on their desktops, then sending multiple versions through emails and in the end, they have even more of a mess than what they began with when it originated from only a single hard copy. This is where GRADIENT comes in and starts to lay down the foundation, or building blocks with ERP and ECM programs and finding out what’s already in play and how to minimize any inefficiencies and any further losses in company expenses.

A business case for trying to improve an organization’s AP processes with digitization and workflow management is very persuasive as there are many inefficiencies and any problems that are significant can be easily measured. Ask any AP team member or staff and they’ll recite 5 of the top posing problems:

inefficient use of resources – either not having a solution, if so, it’s too time-consuming and too much manual labor
AP process life cycle takes too long (feels like it’s never-ending) and should be simplified
Not enough control over the process, delegating work tasks, and easy-accessibility
Not enough visibility, hard to search & find, difficult to share without making more paper trails
Data not clear enough, poor imaging, document processing, and handling
With the appropriate ECM and ERP, you can start to eliminate problem areas and provide the following benefits:

  • reduce paper-trails and handling – reduce labor
  • reduce misplaced, duplicated, or lost invoices
  • reduce storage costs
  • increase processing speed within your AP process lifecycle
  • provide high-quality images with easy search and find capabilities
  • easy access, fast, and mobile access to all invoices and any other supplementary documents
  • be on-time with payments, enable better documentation and fulfillment processes
  • greater auditable business processes with high visibility, improve and facilitate regulatory compliances
  • provide a systematic workflow that’s easily adaptable
  • make sure old habits die hard, and all resources are used to their fullest potential with the right modes and ease of training

So how does a typical well-grounded AP process life cycle look like when paired up with ECM and a good ERP?

  • As we all know, the first step is to digitize all paper invoices and any supplementary or related documents
  • Secondly, we use (in this example, SharePoint) as our main ECM system to sort relevant documents and give access to those who require it
    -Here’s the fun part, after sorting the documents, we’d like to extract valuable information, index, and possibly create metadata, so that we can further eliminate manual labor (which in turn, usually enable room for human error) – this is where APPs come in.
  • SharePoint doesn’t provide the ability to scan directly within it, but if you want to eliminate that extra step and do all scanning, indexing, and sorting in one place, this is where GScan Online comes into play
  • It’s available for SharePoint On-Premise and Office 365 and is the first app to office scanning to take place directly within SharePoint, allowing you stay within the Microsoft environment (instead of flipping/switching through multiple 3rd party programs)
  • Seeing as GScan Online has been installed through a simple plug ‘n’ play add-on (via the App Catalogue) you can now access those documents within your already organized departments/folders and begin the Advanced Document Imaging functions, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Indexing process, which takes away 2 more steps in your AP life-cycle:

  • IQ2 Technology – advanced document imaging functions make clear any document captured copies, whether it be via a smartphone, MFP, cloud storages, and scanner to the desired clarity needed
  • High-quality images are imperative as they greatly influence the success of downstream data extraction and classification needs.
  • Click-to-index™ OCR & Validate – with a simple right-click of your mouse, you’ll be able to instantly index any document, certify that all data is valid, correct, and true, all the while having it saved as a full-text searchable PDF, and never have to do manual data entry, again
  • Save all meta data indexed documents back into SharePoint (your ECM repository) and continue your workflow*
  • Approve/decline
  • Passing it on to other departments
  • Seeing expense management, etc.
  • GScan Online also transfers a subset of data extracted from documents into the ERP system – your ERP integration coming to life
  • Typically, an AP lifecycle that seems a complete match between invoices and the purchase order in the ERP system, automatically go to payment approval (if not, the invoice is routed in the workflow to the correct AP clerk and the relevant ERP integration and Workflow process takes place)
  • AP clerks can now use the documents’ relevant data that was indexed within SharePoint via GScan Online to easily search and find all that might still be necessary to solidify tasks within the workflow*
  • SharePoint acting as the repository provides superb capabilities in Records Management – so it’s all safe, neat and tidy in one place, eliminating multiple copies floating around
  • SharePoint also provides reporting, auditing, and analysis was needed to meet all compliances
  • Some of you, however, are not quite sure you want to use SharePoint, and may have your own ECM system, and thus need GScan Online in a more “on-premise” way, but within your organization via Desktops. GRADIENT also provides this with its sister product – GScan. It’s a feature-rich scanning application that scales up from just a few documents to high-volume document batches. It has a multitude of export features

After you have a cycle that works and is implemented you can begin to play around and offer more complex recognitions, automation, workflows with K2 Smartforms or Nintex, and do all the fine-tuning necessary.

  • Expand the usage of recognition features with GScan/GScan Online - scanning 1D & 2D barcode recognition, automatic document separation and even form classification
  • Implement K2 Smartforms and Nintex Workflows in ERP and the ECM System
  • Do a full-out records management in various different departments
  • Use reporting and analysis capabilities to fine-tune the system and processes

Whatever the case may be, GRADIENT will find the right solution and methodology for you and your company needs. Other sectors applying GScan Online for their document capture and management needs include Oil & Gas, Banking and Finance, Education, Government, HR, Matter Intake, Realty and Housing, Medical, and more.

Contact us for a free demo and overview of how we can enhance your Document Capture and Management needs with our specialized team at

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