Many Federal Government agencies and departments have, or are implementing, document management systems in the cloud. Many are doing it as part of the Office of Management and Budgets’ (OMB) cloud-first policy for IT projects to save money and increase efficiency.
For most of those agencies, a large part of implementing any document management system is the data entry. The Federal Government uses a lot of paper. In 2009, it was estimated that the Federal Government spent $441 million on printing. Getting those paper documents into the document management systems is extremely important, and can be very time consuming and expensive. There are companies that provide data entry services for federal agencies, and many document management providers offer data entry services for their products as well.
Many of these data entry companies use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to speed up data entry. This is software that can read the letters on a page and convert it into an editable document. Most OCR software works with hardware scanners. Some packages work on photos, like those taken with smart phones.
OCR software and scanners are available commercially, why hire a data entry service to do it for you?
The answer is that, aside from the cost of the software and (high-quality) hardware, the fact is that OCR is far from perfect. As with speech recognition software, the recognition is rarely 100% correct. A lot of factors can affect the quality of the recognition including the quality of the
- Hardware scanner or copier
- OCR software itself
Additionally, aspects of the document like folds, fading, images and even the language it’s written in can affect the quality of the recognition. If any of these factors are present, the document’s contents may not be properly interpreted and end up requiring manual editing. Naturally, this adds time and cost.
This is why it is often more cost effective to hire a company that specializes in data entry. These companies buy the best, highest-quality OCR software and scanners. They mange the installation and configuration of the software and hardware and thoroughly know how to tweak them to get the best results.
The data entry companies use the OCR and scanners to quickly convert your documents into editable files. Then they have staff review the files and compare them to the originals, correcting OCR mistakes along the way. The end result is higher-quality files, fewer mistakes, quicker completion, and lower cost.
So the next time that you have data entry needs, rather than buying OCR software and a scanner yourself, hire a service and save time, money, and hassle.