Taken by Filipp Kozachuk
Do you regularly need to extract bank statements from paper versions, PDFs or JPEGs? You might be dealing with one page or hundreds; if you want scanned or searchable statements, you’ll likely be wondering which is the most effective platform for your needs.
Is it one that’s available offline or one in the cloud? Does it need to be a free service, or have you got budget available? Do you prefer to use Excel or a different spreadsheet provider? If you don’t already have answers to these questions, this article will help you find them.
Not only will we help you identify the best technology for your exact requirements, but we’ll also help you take the first steps towards impressing others with your speed and accuracy when extracting transactions from bank statements.
Firstly, start by answering these quickfire questions:
What is the file format and quality of the documents you have to process?
How many documents do you have to process?
Do you need the extraction to be offline or cloud based?
What is your timeline for extracting and correcting the data?
Are you looking solely for free options?
Which country are your bank statements from?
Now you’re armed with answers, here are the pros and cons of the different types of extraction software. Once you find one that works for you, you’ll be able to conduct bank statement extractions in your stride.
There are a wealth of free online tools to extract data from bank statements, but they come with downsides. Many don’t aggregate the transactions in your tables for multiple lines correctly so that one row equates to one transaction. Instead the transaction date will be displayed in the middle or bottom of the transaction information, on a different row to the amount, which will lead to increased time manipulating the data in Excel.
If free software is your only option, you’ll need to allocate extra time to organise the formatting. Or, you can use Alt+copy in your PDF reader, then use split, regex, row aggregation formulas in Excel, MID() and DATE() to solve the issue.
Platforms you have to pay for to extract bank statements are typically more complex than free alternatives, so you might need to train yourself up on your new tool. Many overlap with applications you might already use, such as Excel, so you’ll need to figure out the functionality to ensure the two work in harmony.
Online tools to convert your table of transactions to Excel might seem the right options as they’re readily available no matter where you are in the world, but they have common pitfalls.
Firstly, generic online tools often don’t format data as the correct data type or validate it for immediate use in Excel. If you’re using one of these tools, you’ll need to look out for a varying number of decimal places, and multiple date formats and locales.
Also, encrypted or locked PDFs may hinder or block extraction through reading the embedded text which will halt the extraction process and you may only find out after you’ve uploaded your bank statements.
Additionally, cloud-based platforms have additional security risks than those that function locally, from your own device.
Offline, OCR solutions like StatementReader typically integrate seamlessly into your existing data extraction processes and have built-in data validation, which corrects and highlights potential errors to you and other users.
Turnaround of data from some paid-for and free solutions can also be slow; if the provider processes the data with a manual or OCR fallback after a part-automated service, it can take 24-48 hours. If you need a platform which can process multiple pages instantly, or allow multiple users to access the programme through a shared network quickly, you’ll need to be very specific with your search for an extraction software.
Depending on where your customers are based, you might be working with statements in various formats, from all across the world. If this is the case, you’ll need to use a software that commits to extracting data from bank statements on a global level. It must have the functionality and capability to take bank statements from anywhere in the world, and translate the transactions into your chosen spreadsheet.
Time for training
If you’re a manager thinking about how much time it will take to train your staff in a new technology, and how many non-billable hours that will equate to, you can keep training time to a minimum by adopt a simple application that outputs directly to Excel.
So what’s next?
Using the answers to our quickfire questions and the information above, you’ll be closer to selecting a programme to bank statement extraction. But you might still have questions about the more complex limitations and challenges these solutions present.
What if the quality on the scanned PDF is low? Can I use a regular scanner?
Can bank templates be saved, reused and shared amongst my colleagues?
Does the process take a user much time to learn or process?
Can the process be completely automated?
What data is processed/stored where?
How will X change this process? Can I integrate the output with X?
What is the length of the contract/stability of software provider?
Our bank statement extraction application silences these questions, and our team can explain how.
Call us to understand more about StatementReader, take part in a demo using your bank statements and have the application installed and ready to go next time you get bank statements to extract into Excel.
Or, watch how you can setup StatementReader on your Windows machine here: