How to automate data entry?
September 7, 2022
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12 min
DATA-EXTRACTION
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Data entry is the tedious process of manually inputting values into a company’s system or ERP software. This article will help you understand how costly and time-consuming data entry can be turned into an asset with the help of modern automation software. Not only can this streamline your documentation in an organized format, but also contribute to raising employee satisfaction. Data entry automation is quickly becoming the savior of small and big businesses alike with its focus on gathering structured data, accurately and rapidly. Currently, its scope is in every field from finance, content creation to research and development. Find out all about how to automate data entry, what it is, and the whole range of benefits through this blog. 

So, let's jump right into it:-

What is data entry? 

Any kind of manual inputting of numeric, symbolic, or alphabetic data into an electronic database or program of the company is called data entry. It may involve extracting data from the company’s software. This is then followed by the dull task of entering each value into your business’ ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. 

Importance of data

Businesses have realized the importance of developing a high-functioning data culture to meet their changing needs and customers, especially now that we're amid a pandemic. In fact companies have figured there is no such thing as "too much data" in analytics because data can be utilized in several ways. The possibilities seem limitless once you start collecting and analyzing in-depth.

Data can prove extremely useful for your organization to:

1) Make your services unique (recommendations)

2) Create a plan of action (decisions based on customer behavior assumptions)

3) Assess the outcome (success rates associated with service offerings).

4) Enhance the quality of the product and the process (user feedback through surveys or questionnaires).

5) Ensure the safety and security of people and property (machine learning algorithms that detect fraud).

6) Comply with all legal requirements.

Let’s look at an example. 

Let’s say you run a food business. You’ve got plenty of bills to pay to the suppliers as well as your staff. All the supplier invoices must be extracted by your finance team and then uploaded into the ERP software. Even if your finance department is the A-team, they're still prone to some errors. Not to mention the number of hours or days they will be spending working on something that can be done in a matter of minutes with modern technology. "How?", you ask? Take a look. 

Data entry automation for businesses allows-

1. The possibility for businesses to add or upload information

Unstructured data that businesses receive includes documents, images, and scanned files, to name a few categories. A data entry automation software can extract information from all formats.

2. Processing information

The process entails converting the documents into a format that a machine can read.

3. Identifying and extracting relevant information from various sources

The data entry automation software only recognizes and extracts relevant information to the task. For the algorithm to identify interesting fields and data points, it must first be trained.

4. Compatible with other forms of documents.

It is necessary to extract, share, and enter data, among other things, to complete the task. Removing the information is simple, and it can be easily imported as output into ERP software for use.

5. The entire data entry process is done with the assistance of a computer.

Any company's processes and workflows can benefit from data entry automation, as almost any industry can benefit from it. Here are a few examples of what you might encounter: For financial and accounting purposes, data extraction from invoices, purchase orders, bank statements, and receipts is performed.

6. Important customer information is saved.

Important customer information is saved to ensure that customers receive prompt and efficient service.

What can data entry software do for your business?

Data entry software can:

- Automatically identify documents at the point of sale.

- After you've extracted the data, double-check that it's accurate.

- Ensure your content and information management systems receive data and documents.

For capturing and extracting data, you can choose from three different technologies:

- Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) extracts data from handwritten characters.

- Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) determines a choice from a list of options (i.e., checkboxes).

- Barcode Recognition (BCR) extracts data from document barcodes.

Data entry automation: the savior of modern businesses

Imagine if all those lengthy ledgers and registers could be ‘read’ digitally and uploaded quickly. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? 

Believe it or not, these software solutions allow you to extract data from images, text, PDFs, and websites among other things. This data can then be safely structured into a format of your desire. Data entry automation software takes the help of RPA and OCR technologies to streamline your back-breaking manual tasks. 

But, what is RPA? 

Robotic Process Automation deploys software robot soldiers that take over your menial tasks. RPA technologies are ideal for businesses that lack databases and API. Since it increases the rate of digital transformation, it can put your employees to good use on other value-creating tasks. 

The Fruits of RPA

Since you won't be hiring employees for a job that software can perform, you'll be saving on time and money. Let's not forget the accuracy quotient. In a survey where employees were surveyed, 57% replied that RPA tends to reduce risks of manual error and is highly accurate in its results. 

Since robots don’t need sleep or lunch breaks, you’re looking at meeting urgent deadlines and huge demands on time, every time. Even 63% of world business leaders agree that RPA is contributing tremendous value to the digital revolution.   

The Wonder of OCR 

Optical character recognition is both an IT professional's as well as a business entrepreneur's dream. It is also known as text recognition. Think of your regular Google search. But this time, focus on the image search option. That would be an example of OCR. OCR helps convert physical, handwritten, or typed text into machine language. This machine language can then help you configure this data into the method of your choice. It can even work with images and PDFs. 

There are many types of OCR technologies out there that can be utilized for data entry automation software. Here are some examples: 

  • Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) – this technology can identify marks and patterns on paper and gather them into an understandable piece of information. 
  • Optical Word Recognition – this technology targets each word of a typed text and converts them for your structured use. 
  •  Intelligent Word Recognition – This wonder works for handwritten texts. Cursive or otherwise, IWR can convert each handwritten word into machine language that is further processed into readable text on the screen. 
  • Intelligent Character Recognition – Similar to IWR, ICR also works for handwritten text. Rather than picking up entire words, however, it focuses on transforming each character, bit by bit. 

5 easy steps of data entry automation

How to automate data entry for your business once you purchase this transformative software?  Where do you begin to work? Take a look at these steps below. 

1. Data source upload 

You'll begin by gathering all the manual data that needs to be structured and entered into the database or ERP software. This can be in the form of texts, documents, images, or PDFS. 

2. The prep stage 

Artificial Intelligence and OCR techniques turn each document and image into readable material for your software. Each document is converted into a simplified algorithm or formula that computer software can understand. 

3. Selective Extraction 

You don't have to process every detail, including the unnecessary ones. You can train the software to recognize the most important parts of the document, ledger, or file. In this way, soon the software will act like a trained robot that understands each document requirement without you needing to repeat the commands each time. 

4. Verification of data

Here a manual or semi-manual data check can confirm and check extracted data for accuracy. Once this is done, you can make the required corrections so mistakes are not repeated. 

5. Transfer data to the destination

Once all the extraction is done, you can transport and save them in the desired formats. Alternatively, you can also upload this data safely into the ERP software of your business.  Voila! You've just saved yourself and your employees from precious time and energy being wasted on some mundane, repetitive, and error-prone tasks! 

Benefits of automated data entry

Businesses increasingly prefer automated data entry tools. This is because computerized tools increase efficiency and allow you to focus on more essential tasks.

We've listed the most important ones below to give you a better idea of the many benefits of automated data entry:

- There is a minimal amount of error.

- You can save a significant amount of time with the software.

- More satisfied employees

What are the immediate benefits of a quick and efficient data entry automation system? Find out below:-

1. Grows with your business 

When your business grows, so does your data entry demand. If you’re still manual, you may need to hire additional staff. But with automation, you don’t need to do anything. The automation software is equipped to handle all volumes of demand. It can assure guaranteed meeting of deadlines even with the biggest of workloads. 

2. Productivity spike 

When employees no longer need to spend long hours straining their backs over mundane tasks, you can allocate them more pressing work that contributes to the business holistically. When this extra time is exerted in research and development planning, it contributes to the longevity and growth of the business. And who doesn’t benefit from that? 

3. Increased accuracy 

A Gartner study shows that a simple manual error can result in 25000 hours of extra work and a financial cost of more than $800,000 to a business. While humans might get tired and enter wrong figures carelessly, a computer isn’t prone to errors. It will upload and extract the data as a mirror image. You won’t need to worry about the possibilities of large financial losses because a clerk entered an extra zero where it wasn’t meant to be. 

4. Increased employee satisfaction 

When employees aren’t forced to do tasks that require minute mundane tasks, there is an uplift of moods. Employees are happier coming into work and that naturally increases productivity as well as the company's reputation. 

5. Smart processing 

Intelligent extraction means you can quickly structure and transform data. You can classify documents by department, type, or source. This means more precise extraction and intelligent processing.  

Use-cases of data entry automation 

The benefits are plenty. But where do you get to see data entry automation software in serious action? Take a look. 

1. The finance sector 

Apart from banks, financial institutions, and ministries of finance, each company has its finance department. This section handles the trajectory of the profit, revenue, and loss of the company. But it is also responsible for the salaries of the employees as well as the invoices of the suppliers and distributors. Each bill, big or small, will have to pass through this department and its values updated into the financial database. The job is as tough as it sounds and surely comes with its share of errors. 

These tough tasks become smooth-sailing when you bring data entry automation into the system. Each bill, handwritten or typed can be extracted easily in seconds. Cheques and financial documents can be machine-read within a matter of minutes. Thankfully, your staff can then proceed to work on the figures that matter to the growth of the company.  

2. Transcribing

With the social media frenzy these days, careers are being made on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Podcasts are becoming popular and even here data entry becomes relevant. Data entry clerks are often asked to write what they hear in interviews, scripts, or podcasts so a readable text can be constructed. But think of AI software like Siri, Alexa, and Google and you'll find that even this can be automated. 

The job of content creators becomes easier as they no longer need to focus on the technical aspects of hiring clerks to do the job of popular software. This software will scale with you and you can use it as and when you require. A data entry clerk however will require perks and a steady salary. Pick your software and focus your energies on channeling that creativity instead!

3. Research

Research work is the backbone of society's growth. Social science research often involves a large number of lengthy surveys. All of this data needs to be entered into computer software. The researcher can then proceed to study the findings and come to a conclusion. 

One main reason research work can be so time-consuming is because the data is so vast. With the help of a simple IWR or OCR software, we can quickly enter the data into the system. The sooner the researcher does this, the earlier they can begin to study and write down their findings in an organized manner. 

4. Science and healthcare

Medical research work and scientific experiments are needed now more than ever. Moreover, with the advent of Covid-19, we have witnessed that time is of the essence in such work. Data entry automation can quickly process the results of a large number of experiments into a system. The only work left for the scientists to do then is to focus on the analysis and come up with solutions to health problems that humans are facing. 

Data entry automation becomes even more important if it is used to predict medical emergencies. By quickly automating this lengthy procedure, experts can focus on predicting what’s next for the human race. 

Conclusion

With the lengthy information we have provided here for you, we hope you have understood the basics of data entry. With that understanding, you can understand why and how to automate data entry for your business. Doing this is especially crucial for small entrepreneurs who need to dedicate time to other activities which will benefit the business’s growth. So save time and money by investing in data entry automation software today and witness the profit for yourself! 

Written by
Pankaj Tripathi
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How to automate data entry?
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April 6, 2022
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12 min
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