Outsource Data Entry : Forms Processing

Forms Processing, How to Make it Successful

Organizations worldwide generate billions of forms which need processing. These could be insurance claims, product registrations, surveys etc. Even though there is a general trend to switch over to online forms which do not require data entry, sizable number of paper forms are still generated. There are various steps involved in the processing of forms.

Step 1: Collection

Forms which are disseminated across vast regions need to be collected for processing. The collection is usually done by the outsourcing organization but can be entrusted to a vendor too.

Step 2: Batch Preparation

The forms have to be segregated into batches. A batch size can vary depending on the nature of the forms and regions they have been collected from. The forms can be batched into bundles of 100 forms for convenience. Some organizations would prefer not to do the batching process to save on costs. In such a scenario all forms are moved to the next step enbloc.

Step 3: Scanning

About a decade back when scanning was an expensive technology hardcopy forms used to be shipped to data entry centers for processing, but not anymore. Scanning is a fairly inexpensive process costing about 3-4 cents per A4 size page. If a form has multiple pages they can be scanned to a multipage TIF file, thus keeping all pages of a form together in one file. The scanned forms can be compressed using various technology like JPEG, TIF Group IV, LZW etc. The scanned images should be deskewed and despeckled which is an automatic process and can be run on the entire batch of images or even done in situ while scanning. Good quality, straight images would help data entry personnel generate higher accuracy data.

Step 4: FTP

The scanned images are transmitted to a data entry vendor via a secure FTP site. The scanned forms once uploaded to a designated FTP are downloaded by the vendor using a FTP client like Filezilla, FireFTP, CuteFTP etc.

Step 5: Vendor-end: Batch preparation

The downloaded scanned forms are segregated into small batches. Batch size would depend on size of the image files, larger the file size smaller should be the batch size, for ease of the data entry personnel. Another factor would be the data to be captured off the forms. If the data is quite large in numbers of characters the batch size should be kept small, enough for a data entry operator to finish processing within the same day.

Step 6: Vendor-end: Entry of forms

Each data entry operator is assigned a batch of scanned forms to work on. Proper records need to be kept for the batches with operator names/codes which would help in tracking errors, later on. The data entry operator loads the batch in the data entry software for entry. After having entered each form the batch is complete and operator moves to a next batch.

Step 7: Vendor-end: Verification of forms

A data entry operator is assigned a batch which has already been completed in Step 6. The operator starts entering the forms in the "verification module" of the software. After having entered all the forms in the batch the operator moves on to next completed batch of Step 6. This ensures that all the forms pass through a "double entry" process.

Step 8: Vendor-end: Quality Check

Data files generated in Step 7 after verification are merged into larger files. The merged files are then checked by a team of quality checkers. Quality checking would involve a visual check of 2-5% of random forms. Any major discrepancy in the data and the quality checkers would identify the batch and send it back to the verification process. If no major discrepancies are found the quality checkers would do a program level check on the data.

Step 9: Vendor-end: Sending back data

The quality certified data is then sent back to the client again via secure FTP or PGP secure email attachments, depending on the client's preference.

CyberData India , established in 1996, offers data entry solutions. We have worked on several projects which required us to enter data off forms both printed and handwritten. These could be in English or non-English as long as they used the Roman font.

We consult with each of our customer's prior to project inception in order to provide them with a cost effective strategy. We provide unique solutions to suit every customer's needs. Partnering with our expertise in information management will allow you to concentrate on your core business, eliminate processing overhead and provide your company with results from a proven document processing company.