Automating your accounts payable processes with Oscar by HighIQ
Accounts payable (AP) processing can be a time- and resource-intensive undertaking. Automating AP processing and eliminating or reducing the need for human intervention can increase your processing efficiency while reducing the processing cost per invoice. In this blog post, John, Pawan, and I will show you how to automate AP invoice processing in your AWS account by setting up Oscar by HighIQ (Oscar). We show how to deploy Oscar securely in your AWS account using the HighIQ Amazon Machine Image (AMI) in AWS CloudFormation and how to test it using a sample invoice email.
Here’s a list of the key components of the Oscar solution and a typical automated AP workflow.
- Email messenger: The process starts with identifying vendor emails with invoice attachments and downloading the attachments.
- Pre-processor: The semi-structured invoices are then pre-processed.
- Amazon Textract: The invoice data is extracted through Amazon Textract.
- HighIQ User Board (HUB): The captured invoice data is then presented on HighIQ’s User Board (HUB), where the user can review the data and make changes if necessary. The user can also set up additional pre-built validation and approval workflows.
- ERP Integrator: Finally, the invoice data is sent to the existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for payment scheduling or further processing. The HUB also provides real-time reporting and customizable dashboards that help provide key operational insights.
- An AWS account and AWS Management Console credentials
- An email ID for Oscar
- A sample vendor invoice in PDF format
To launch the Oscar solution, complete the following steps:
- Subscribe to Oscar.
- Create the AWS CloudFormation stack.
- Configure Oscar.
- Test the HUB application.
Step 1: Subscribe to Oscar
To subscribe to Oscar, follow these steps:
- Sign in to the AWS Management Console and navigate to AWS Marketplace.
- Choose the Oscar AP Automation solution.
- Choose Continue to Subscribe.
- Review the end user license agreement.
- Choose Show Details and review the product options. Choose Configure Contract.
- For Region, choose where you want to launch Oscar and then choose Continue to Launch.
- On the next page, choose Launch and then choose Next. This will take you to the Create stack template.
Step 2: Create the AWS CloudFormation stack
The solution’s AWS CloudFormation stack creates and deploys an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance, using the HighIQ Amazon Machine Image (AMI). This Amazon EC2 instance hosts the Automation Anywhere RPA software and Oscar’s HUB application. To create the AWS CloudFormation stack, follow these steps.
- While signed in to the AWS Management Console, open the AWS CloudFormation console. Following step 1.7, you are on the Create stack template page. Enter a name for Stack Name: for example, Oscarhighiq.
- For VPC Settings, choose the VPC where you want to deploy the instance.
- For Subnet Settings, choose one of the available subnets. The subnet must be the same as the VPC. For example, if the VPC is 172.31.x.x, make sure that the subnet is in the range. For example, enter 172.31.x.x/20.
- For RDP, SSH, Access, and Application Access, we recommend that you enter a specific IP address with /32. For example, enter 192.0.2.0/32. For more information on CIDR and its conventions, visit Understanding IP addressing. To do this step securely, please visit Remote Desktop Gateway on AWS.
- For Resource Name, enter anything that you can tag while configuring Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets so you know what they’re for. On the next page, for EC2 Instance Type, choose the instance you want.
- First-time AWS users must create an EC2 SSH Key Pair. For more information on creating a key pair, visit Creating EC2 SSH key pair.
- Choose Next. Optionally, update any advanced options. Choose Next. Select the I acknowledge that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources check box and then choose Create stack.
After you receive a successful Stack Create Complete message, the process is complete. The instance is deployed and should be available in a few minutes. The following AWS CloudFormation console screenshot shows the oscarhighiqtest13 stack page with oscarhighiqtest13 designated as CREATE_COMPLETE in the left sidebar.
Step 3: Configure Oscar
Now that you have created and deployed the instance, you must connect to it and configure Oscar. This configuration requires several sets of credentials, which you can create now.
A. Create addresses and credentials
- First, create an internal email address. Oscar requires its own company email address, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org. Oscar uses this email address to receive invoices from vendors and for all notifications that the HUB application sends out.
- Next, you must create three sets of administrator credentials: for the Automation Anywhere control room, for the Automation Anywhere client, and for the HUB application. To do this, follow these steps:
- Connect to the EC2 instance that the stack created in step 2. Follow the instructions in Step 2 and use Request Data Protocol (RDP) to connect to the EC2 instance. For more information, visit the Getting Started tutorial for Amazon EC2 Windows instances.
- Once you RDP to the EC2 instance, choose the Welcome Setup.exe
- Choose Next.
- Enter values for Password and Email ID for Automation Anywhere Control Room Administrator and choose Next.
- Enter values for Password and Email ID for Automation Anywhere Client Administrator and choose Next.
- Enter a value for Password for HUB Administrator and choose Next.
- Choose Finish.
B. Configure the Automation Anywhere client installed on the EC2 Instance
- On the EC2 instance, choose the AA Enterprise Client 11.3 shortcut.
- Log in to the Automation Anywhere Client application using the Automation Anywhere control room administrator credentials you created in step 3.A.2.
- From the menu bar at the top, choose Tools and then Options followed by Email Settings. Enter the following information for the internal email address (see Section 3.A.2).
- Host:g. smtp.gmail.com
- Port:g. 465
- Username: the internal email address
- Password: the password for the internal email address
- Choose OK.
- From the left menu, choose the AP_Invoice_AWS
- From the list of .atmx files at the center of the screen, choose 00_InvoiceCreatorMaster.atmx.
- From the bottom menu, choose TRIGGER and enter the following information for the internal email address:
- Trigger Type: select Email Message from dropdown list
- Action: select When new email arrives from dropdown list
- Host: I entered gmail.com
- Port: I entered 993
- Poll every: enter 1 minute
- Username: the internal email address from step 3.A.1.
- Password: the password for the internal email address from step 3.A.1.
- Choose Add.
C. Configure the HUB application
Next, configure the HUB application by creating and configuring the Bot Manager user. This user is normally an AP Manager in an organization. This user usually has the following roles relating to Oscar:
- Oversee the Oscar AP process.
- Ensure that invoice issues are resolved.
- Ensure that invoices are approved on a timely basis.
- Manage Oscar’s integration with ERP software.
To configure the HUB application:
- On the EC2 instance, choose the HUB – User Login shortcut.
- Log in to the HUB application using the HUB administrator credentials you established in step 3.A.2.f.
- The next step is to create a Bot Manager user. This role allows the user to view the invoice information and receive notifications when there are issues. To create the Bot Manager user, do the following:
- From the left sidebar, choose Manage Users.
- Enter values for Bot Manager Username, Password, First Name, Last Name, and Email ID.
- Choose Role = Bot Manager.
- Choose Add.
- Configure the Bot:
- Choose Manage Bot Details.
- Enter Bot Email ID. This is the internal email address from step 3.A.1.
- Enter Bot Manager User First Name, Last Name, and Email ID.
- Choose Update.
- From top right of screen, choose Home.
- Configure the Bot parameters:
- In the HUB application left sidebar menu, choose Manage Bot Parameters.
- Enter the following information for the internal email address from step 3.A.1:
- vEmailPassword – the password for the internal email address from step 3.A.1.
- vHostName – I used gmail.com
- vPortNumber – I used 993
- vHostNameSending – I used gamil.com
- vPortNumberSending – I used 465
Step 4: Test the HUB application
To ensure that the configurations have been set correctly and the email workflow is functioning, do an initial test of your HUB application. To perform the test, do the following:
- Send an email to the internal email address you created in step 3.A.1. Attach a PDF invoice. Make sure that the word Invoice is in the email’s subject line.
- Log in to the HUB application using the Bot Manager credentials created in step 3.C.3.
- From the left sidebar, choose View Invoice Details.
- When the new invoice appears in the invoice list on the View Invoice Details page, choose Invoice Unique ID. The invoice might take a few minutes to appear in the invoice list.
You should see that Oscar successfully ingested, read, and processed the invoice, and that some elements of the invoice are already populating the necessary fields.
- From the top menu, choose Invoice Header, and review the information. The following screenshot shows the invoice information extracted and properly classified according to their respective invoice fields. It shows the PO number, invoice number, invoice amount, currency, vendor name, cost center, cost center ID, invoice date, and vendor billing and shipping address.
- From the top navigation, choose Invoice Line and review the information. In the following screenshot, you can see line level information for each item that has been purchased. This includes an item description, quantity, unit price, item total, and unit of measure.
The accuracy of extracted results improves over time with training. The extracted invoice information can also be sent to downstream ERP applications for further processing as needed. If you need assistance, contact the HighIQ support team.
In this blog post, we showed you how to set up Oscar to automate AP invoice processing in your AWS account. You can extend this solution with additional bots for vendor statement reconciliations, month-end close processes, and more. Oscar automates manual, complex, and time-consuming AP processes. For more information on Oscar, see the HighIQ website.
It is each customers responsibility to determine whether they are subject to HIPAA, and if so, how best to comply with HIPAA and its implementing regulations. Before using AWS in connection with protected health information, customers must enter an AWS Business Associate Addendum (BAA) and follow its configuration requirements.
Madhu Raman, AWS WW Lead, Intelligent Automation Solutions
Madhu Raman leads Amazon Web Services’ Intelligent Automation Solutions. He is responsible for packaging these workloads and scaling their deployment to address customer pain points across 22 commercial industries worldwide. Madhu previously headed Verizon Enterprise’s Ideation services globally and lives in Massachusetts.
Pawan Singh, Founder and CEO, HighIQ Robotics Inc.
Pawan has over 25 years of experience successfully leading, managing, directing, and delivering complex solutions for large global corporations in the IT industry. His strength lies in the ability to streamline enterprise-level systems architecture and business processes cost-effectively. Being customer-centric, Pawan leads the team at HighIQ to understand the pitfalls of business processes and apply intelligent automation to solve complex problems.
John Coney, COO, HighIQ Robotics Inc.
John has over 20 years of global experience in the financial services industry. He has led, planned, developed, and implemented cutting edge information systems to address business needs. He formerly led the global financial systems groups for both Invesco and Equifax, where he was responsible for technology strategy, program execution, implementation, operations, and the support of key application platforms supporting finance functions.