4 Benefits Of Using Automated Data Capture Instead Of Manually Entering Form Data
In a world where automation is gradually taking hold of so many business processes, manual data entry is still alive and clicking. Companies in various industries - from schools to banks to hospitals - rely on the tedious process of employees entering information from forms into computer systems.
If your company still relies on manually entering form data, should you switch? Here are a few of the benefits of switching to automated data capture.
Improve Employee Satisfaction
Anyone who's been subjected to prolonged data entry can attest to the mental fatigue involved. It's just not reasonable to expect anyone to remain focused on such an arduous task for potentially hours at the time. Automating data capture frees up employees to focus on more engaging, useful tasks.
Reduce Errors (And Their Associated Costs)
Automated data capture can significantly reduce errors when compared to manual entry. This in turn, can save your organization a significant amount of money. The 1-10-100 rule, fairly common in business circles, states that:
- preventing an error will cost an organization $1,
- correcting an error already made will cost $10, and
- allowing an error to stand will cost $100.
Actual ratios experienced will vary depending on the magnitude of the mistake and the company involved, of course, but the point remains: adopting the most reliable means of preventing a mistake, be it while entering data or inspecting an airliner before takeoff, is the best approach to take in the long run.
Get Forms Processed Faster
Speed of processing is also a consideration. Imagine a university professor or assistant having to grade a multiple-choice exam for a class with 300 students. Even with an answer key, the grader must keep track of the number of correct and incorrect answers, then record the overall score - and repeat 299 times. Obviously, schools automated this example of forms processing years ago, but there are still organizations who use similarly primitive processes to enter data. Automated data capture systems can process many forms per minute.
Digital Data Capture Can Reduce Cost By 88%
Many organizations have turned to automating data entry, often with enormous cost savings. The U.S. Treasury, for instance, says it can process an electronic tax return at a cost of 35 cents, while a paper return costs $3. Factor in how many returns the IRS will handle in one year alone, and you'll understand why it encourages E-filing!
The 6 Step Process For Automated Data Capture
In this schematic, scanning a document is the first step in processing the form. The scanned form is then aligned with a template to match the image to form fields, and the data is read by an application that searches predefined areas on the form for specific fields. As shown in the diagram, optical character recognition (OCR) then converts the fields into searchable data.
For example, the information on a rental application, such as name, current address, employer and so on is digitized by the process and stored as a record in a data file. Users can then search for an applicant's name or any other relevant information - all without needing a data entry clerk to type out any forms.
Types Of Data That Can Be Captured
There are many types of information, of course, that can be automatically processed from forms, such as:
- QR codes and other images
- Bubbles (OMR)
- Check data (MICR)
With all these, the idea is the same: automation removes much of the potential for human error, saves money and makes the process scalable because it's so much faster than working purely by hand.
The automated process is not perfect, either, in the sense that it is only as reliable as the quality of the inputted data. If fields are not legible or the original form is damaged, the output will not be valid. A good data capture system will flag such situations which require human intervention.
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FormSuite For Structured Forms is a data capture toolkit that can be integrated into your company's existing software, systems, or workflows.