Disorganized piles of paperwork can lead to misplaced/lost documents, missed deadlines and more, and have a negative impact on an organization’s efficiency and productivity. Turning paper files into digitized documents makes accessing, retrieving and sharing information much quicker and easier, saving valuable time and effort. Data capture, best handled with the help of a data entry company, involves converting paper or digital information into a structured format that can be interpreted and processed by a computer.
There are two methods of data capture or entry – manual and automated. Manual data capture is tedious as it involves entering data collected from various sources into a computer by hand. On the other hand, automated data entry turns physical paper documents into digital files using special tools and software such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR technology recognizes text in scanned documents and images and converts them into accessible, editable text files. Automated data capture and processing enables the processing of large amounts of information quickly and efficiently. As it involves minimal human interaction, automation saves time and reduces the risk of errors associated with manual data entry. Importantly, data entry automation improves workflow.
An organization’s workflow consists of the various processes needed to accomplish its goals, the manpower and other resources available to carry out these processes, and the interactions among them. Let’s see how data automation supports workflow.
- Ensures instant access to essential data: Employees need to have the data and documents they need to do their job at their fingertips. Consider these statistics posted byinboundlogistics.com: a survey of supply chain leaders found that up to 73% waste up to eight hours each week just trying to find data to find the information they need to do their job. This led to delays (46%), errors (28%), and bad customer experience (24%). Data and document automation address this problem. Automation means a better organization of data which makes it much easier to handle both incoming and outgoing documents with fewer errors.
- Quicker turnaround times: Automated data capture saves time and improves daily workflow by reducing the number of tedious, paper-based tasks. It takes time for paper documents to be processed. For example, Deloitte points out that in high paper processing environments such as banks and insurance companies, client information is re-obtained at every touch-point during the client life-cycle. Repetitive tasks and keeping unnecessary documents are time-consuming, costly and a waste of office storage space. Moreover, in an era when time is precious, time-consuming paper processes can affect customer relationships as customers evaluate services by the time is taken, administrative burden, and ease of engagement. Automated documents save time and allow employees to focus on other critical tasks, improving workflow efficiency.
- More time for high value tasks: Automating data collection will improve work processes and increase efficiency, freeing employees to pay more attention to more valuable, high-impact tasks. Responding to a Smartsheet survey question on which tasks they would like to see automated, 55% of workers said data collection, 52% said collecting and tracking data, and 51% said data entry or filling out forms. Automating data capture frees people up for high-ROI tasks. Information workers can save time and also eliminate human errors associated with manual data collection and data entry. This also minimizes risks when managing large volumes of information.
- Better decision making: Data drives insight and validates business strategy. Harnessing data for better decision making is especially difficult when information is paper-based. Automated data processes allow organizations to collect, reconcile, analyze and report their critical data, promoting agile decision-making to address and manage sustainability objectives, boost operational efficiency and drive cost savings.
- Saves money: Automating data capture can save costs related to additional labour, continuing training, equipment maintenance, and document storage. Money saved can be redistributed to enhance other internal processes and update systems, which in turn, can optimize workflow.
There are different types of data capturing technologies such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Intelligent Data Capture (IDC) and Intelligent Document Processing (IDP). Based on their needs, businesses can implement these technologies to identify and retrieve organized information within minutes and move on to the next steps in their workflow.
In this digital era, automation is a necessity. Companies that offer outsourcing solutions such as data entry, document conversion, and data cleansing play a key role in helping organizations move ahead with automation and implement next-generation technologies to build resilience and boost efficiency and growth.