How to get the best automation results from InvoiceSmash

1. Avoid paper invoices and scans. Ask your suppliers to email you invoices as PDF attachments. If your suppliers need to give you paper invoices with the delivery docket, make an arrangement with their accounting department to email you PDF invoices as duplicates. Keep the paper invoices for reference but push the emailed PDFs into InvoiceSmash for automation. To learn more why this is makes a difference to your business read this post.

2. Try to get PDFs from your suppliers that have one invoice per file. InvoiceSmash can split PDF files at page breaks using a combination of software automagic and manual operator intervention, but for best results try and avoid it if you can. Basically what InvoiceSmash does is extract data out of a file and creates a purchase transaction in your accounting system. If there are two transactions in file, we first have to split the file in to separate transactions…then automate them individually. (We may change this down the track…)

3. When you’re just getting started with InvoiceSmash we usually have to teach our software to recognise the details (aka “templates”) in your supplier invoices. This takes varying degrees of human intervention and can take from a few minutes to 2 days depending on many variables. The power of our automation kicks in after this process has happened – that’s when our system will demonstrate its value to you because the invoices are completely automatic at that point. This template automation, only applies to electronic PDFs and does not apply to scanned invoices.

Happy smashing!

How to tell if an Invoice is an Electronic PDF in 5 seconds.

1. Open PDF in a PDF viewer like Adobe.


2. Use the mouse to select some text on the page. It will look something like this.


3. Right click and select copy. Or do Control C.


4. Open up another document program like notepad, MS Word or Excel and paste the clipboard. If you can see the data, it’s an electronic PDF.


Note: You don’t really need to do step 3 and 4, if you can select the text, you have your answer.

Automation, technology adoption and saving money


We may not realise it but we’ve all experienced the frustration and power of technology adoption. When you first got a smart phone (eg an iPhone) for the first few days everything you did on it took little bit longer. You forgot where the make a call feature is and the contacts selection page is not what you’re used to…but that when you get used to the new way of doing things you really start to enjoy the power the technology gives you.

Its same thing with adoption software systems like InvoiceSmash. For the first little while the time/effort actually goes up before it comes down.

For example, lets say you process your monthly phone bill through InvoiceSmash.

Month 1

  • Forward attachment from your email.
  • Match the phone company name in the invoice against the company in your contacts. If its not a perfect match, you should set up a rule for it.
  • Match your GST and GST Free line items against the GL accounts from your accounting software (and set a rule for next time).
  • Review and submit with one click.

Month 2

  • Forward attachment from your email.
  • Review and submit with one click

Month 2 is where you see the power of automation kicking in in your favour. And month 3, when your regular supplier invoices have become almost hands free is when it gets really good.

So our advice is, ride the small bump up in effort at the start because the cost savings are there for the taking.

Founder of InvoiceSmash interviewed for start-up TV show

InvoiceSmash Founder Mark Burch was interviewed by Pete Cooper from for a new TV show on technology start-ups. 


The 2 types of PDF invoices and why this can make a big difference to your business

There are 2 basic types of PDF invoices that businesses receive from their suppliers.

1. An electronic PDF generated directly out of an accounting software system and received electronically (email attachment, portal download).

2. A scan or fax which originated in an accounting software system but is now an image rather than an electronic document.

How can you tell the difference?

If you can use a mouse to select/highlight the text in a PDF, it is electronic.

An electronic PDF typically won’t have any hand writing on it.

An electronic PDF won’t be skewed, like when a piece of paper goes through a scanner a little bit crooked.

Printing and scanning typically introduces little blemishes onto the page.

Why would you care about the difference?

When the data is received electronically (i.e. 1 above) it can be automated into an accounting system using a tool like InvoiceSmash with minimal oversight. The one click processing is possible because the data starts out electronic, is transmitted electronically and is entered into your accounting system electronically. For example, lets say you receive regular invoices from a supplier XYC company. The first time you process a XYC company invoice using InvoiceSmash, you set up all the rules for how it should be entered into your accounting software, which GL accounts to use, which inventory etc. Thereafter each time you process an invoice from XYC company the software will automatically resolve it for you and you will presented with a one click submission screen.

OCR sucks

On the other hand, if you are receiving the invoices via 2 above, you have a conversion problem. You have to convert the data from ‘paper’ to electronic. This can be done using OCR technology. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. Basically the computer looks at the picture of the character or word and uses probability to assert that ‘0’ is zero and ‘i’ is a lowercase ‘I’ and not an ‘L’. The problem is that even the best OCR software sometimes gets it wrong (98% accuracy) which means someone has to maintain oversight and vigilance, and provide data verification and data repair. Hopefully this is the responsibility of specialist bookkeepers and accounts staff, but quite often we see even high level staff having to do their own data entry.

Ok so OCR is bad, but why do you care?

Its simple, accessing the data electronically, you save yourself most or all of the data entry and data oversight effort (i.e. the conversion problem). Its a simple change. Just ask your suppliers to send the invoices as email attachments and you’re done. Most suppliers are happy to oblige and many bigger companies have portals where you can access the files yourself.

But wait a minute, InvoiceSmash does OCR doesn’t it?

Yes, but we’re doing it begrudgingly. We really want you to process your invoices electronically so as to avoid the data validation headache.  But of course, we’re living in the real world and even companies that are aggressively embracing automation still have the occasional pieces of paper floating around. They can use InvoiceSmash too. (OCR assist, is due to go online, Aug 2013. It is in beta use now but not make that open yet.)

The new official InvoiceSmash blog is up

After our V1 launch last week, it is time to launch our official blog.
This blog will be were we talk about

  • What we’re doing with InvoiceSmash
  • How to’s and information about how to get the most out of invoicesmash
  • What’s happening in the accounting/bookkeeping industry.
  • Whats happening in the software startup industry.


Mark Burch (Founder)