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What’s the Difference in Data Entry and Data Capture?

Every business seeks out valuable data and information from targeted groups. Perhaps you want to obtain customer feedback, colleagues’ opinions or conduct staff assessments. Surveying is a very common practice to obtain information. Whether you’re thinking about how to design the best survey, or already collected responses and want to extract data from the source, it’s important to know the difference in various techniques used to mine data.

In document management we often hear the terms scanning, imaging, capturing and indexing. Truthfully, many of these strategies overlap and choosing what’s right for your company really comes down to the format of your data and what you want to do with it.

This blog post focuses primarily on the similarities and differences of data entry and data capture services, as well as how to know what’s right for your business goals.

Data entry

Data entry is the input and storage of text and numbers from a document into an electronic system. This is done by means of automated computer software or manual entry, depending on the type of document. Forms and surveys can range from basic to detailed and will solicit either brief feedback or lengthy responses. When data sources include handwriting, it gets trickier to utilize automated processing methods. Handwritten data requires manual data entry which is more expensive and time consuming than automated software.

Data capture

Data capture is very similar to data entry, but used mostly on data sources that contain basic response types. Question styles like multiple choice, “yes-no” and bubble circles are typically processed via automated data capture. Printed responses aren’t included in data capture because not all automated software is equipped to handle handwriting.  Once software mines the data it can export to a spreadsheet or other indexing solution where it may be stored, shared, etc.  Data capture services produce quick turnaround times, and tend to cost significantly less because of the automated nature of the service.

Factors to consider before choosing a service

  • Information Style—Is data numerical, handwritten or a combination of both?
  • Volume—What is the size of the data set?
  • Data Retrieval–Will responses be collected via electronic system or hard copy?
  • Preferred Indexing—Are indexing requirements minimal or extensive?
  • Data Structure—Does data format change or remain identical?
  • Turnaround Time/Available Resources—Does your company need data quickly?  Do you have the time and labor to do it internally?

Data capture and data entry solutions have similar, yet distinctive ways of inputting and extracting information. ILM offers customized document management solutions; whether it’s a single approach or combined strategy for helping you make the most out of your data. To learn more about our unique approach or find out about our custom, contact ILM today.

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