Converting your company’s documents into digital format saves money and space, but it doesn’t really help if you don’t have a way to organize it. After all, we’re talking about thousands upon thousands of images stored on a disc, all of which need to be organized, searched, and accessed via computer. This is why data entry and indexing are so very important to the process of going paperless.
Indexing and Data Accessibility
When a document is scanned, it’s stored as an image. That image will have a file name (most likely in the form of a serial number) and no “text” in the way most computer operating systems would recognize. This is a problem since you need to have your documents accessible by computer, and your computers—and end users—require text-based data for sorting.
This is where data entry and indexing come in…
Data entry takes text that people can read on each document and types it into a database, making it readable by a computer. Once the data is keyed in, it can be easily organized into an index, making it searchable by computer and readily accessible to your employees.
Data Entry Strategies
Data entry can be done using a variety of methods, each of which can be tailored to your industry’s standards and best practices. The process of keying in data may be done either manually or with automated software like OCR. The type of strategy you use will depend on your specific needs when it comes to handling your data.
Optical character recognition, or OCR, is software that reads printed text on scanned documents, eliminating the extra sets of eyes viewing your information. This can often be done faster than it takes human operators to index records manually, but it doesn’t completely eliminate human involvement. Once the data is extracted from each document, an operator examines the information to make sure everything is correctly indexed.
The ultimate goal is to eliminate inaccuracies resulting from human error and maximize overall security. The software involved can be protected with a variety of safeguards that prevent hacking or theft as long as the safety measures are well structured. Collaboration with trusted individuals and professionals can help you do this effectively.
A Few Pointers
When developing an indexing structure, you’ll need to consider how data will be accessed and used. If you’re in the healthcare industry, for instance, you will likely have your documents organized by social security number. In accounting, you might organize invoices by their invoice number or vendor name. The system you use will ultimately affect everyone who needs to access it, so it’s important to structure it in a way that works for them. To do that, consider applying the following:
Take into account industry requirements and legal standards for accessibility of information.
Collaborate with end users, i.e. employees, managers, departments, etc., and get their opinions.
Keep things simple, but make the system nuanced enough to be useful.
Include options to search for full text as well as specific fields on documents.
Involve professionals in designing your indexing structure.
These steps will help you make your documents accessible within the limits of federal and state regulations, ultimately improving the usability of your system and enhancing productivity within your company.
Data Entry Assistance
Determining the ideal structure for your digitized documents requires collaboration and expertise. Involving a professional in the process will give you access to industry experience that will help you put together the best structure for your company’s needs. ILM has that experience, so contact us today to get your electronic documents organized.