Digital Transformation with AI Builder

There are so many business processes which are still not supported by the possibilities of a digital world. Do you have a lot of printed forms you have to fill out manually? And what about receipts you get and which have to be scanned to be further processed or do you have to enter the data manually in a tool?

The Power Platform in Microsoft 365 provides different services like AI Builder, Power Apps and Power Automate to improve and/or to automate some of your business processes. In my scenario, each employee with a company car gets a copy of the monthly invoice in a printed format for his records. What should the employee do with this information? Maybe, he wants to track the billing items and to monitor the costs in the long run.

Create an AI Model

The AI Builder is located in the Power Apps service. If you click on “AI Builder – Create” in the navigation within Power Apps, you can select between four different kinds of AI models to be created. I used the “Form Processing” option for my scenario and on the next screen – where I had to enter a name for my model – there was a remark that I will need at minimum 5 documents to be able to generate a model.

Create an AI Model for Form Processing

You should have many documents with the same layout but with different data to generate and to train the model. After uploading the first documents, you can analyze the contained information. The AI Builder suggests the identified data fields and you can select which information is relevant for your purpose. If you have more documents, you can use them to train your model but you are limited to the possibilities of the AI Builder concerning the detection of contained data fields.

The AI Builder identifies the relevant data fields
I faced some challenges while creating the model with the form processor. The layout of the used invoice respectively the position of the data fields could not be read at the first try. For example, it didn’t work that the label of a data field is in one row and the value in the next row. An other issue was that in my invoice format the header of the data table and the rows with the data were broken by some general header information of the invoice. So, I was forced to modify the layout of my invoices to be able to create the model. I recommend you to do a proof of concept if you want to work with AI models. In some cases (as in mine), you will need to discuss if the documents you want to digitalize can be customized or not.

Create a Power App

The next step is creating a Power App which uses the AI model. I create a Power App with a tablet layout and added a form processor control. After this I add some labels for the header information of the invoice and a data table for the billing items. Ready for a first test?

If you click on “Analyze”, you have to upload a document and its contained information will be shown in the labels and the data table.

Power App with Form Processor control, data table and some labels to show the invoice information

Reading the information is not enough! We will save the information in SharePoint and therefor we need a button to save every billing item of the invoice as a SharePoint list item. Here is an example:

            Kennzeichen: FormProcessor1.FormContent.Fields.Kennzeichen;
            Vertrag: FormProcessor1.FormContent.Fields.Vertrag;
            Mitarbeiter: FormProcessor1.FormContent.Fields.Mitarbeiter;
            Datum: DateValue(Datum);
            Tankort: Tankort;
            Menge: Menge;
            'EUR (netto)': Value('EUR (netto)');
            'EUR (brutto)': Value('EUR (USt) EUR (brutto)');
            Abrechnungsdatum: DateValue(FormProcessor1.FormContent.Fields.Datum)

Further steps

If you want to monitor the collected data, you can create different views in the SharePoint list, export the data to Excel or you use Power BI to create reports for further purposes.

You could also add the created Power App and the SharePoint list as a tab in Microsoft Teams. Think about a team for company-wide processes and services. You could add a channel for each service group and then you could integrate the apps as a tab. The administration and the monitoring could be done in private channels or separate teams. What do you think about this idea?

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