What is manual data capture?
Many organisations rely on capturing high volumes of data in order to operate efficiently. Data is captured to enable analysis, records management, claims processing, job management, time recording or for many other purposes.
This critical data is often received on paper and is manually transcribed, which is cumbersome, slow and inefficient to handle but a necessity to many processes.
With manual data capture, an operator transcribes data from a paper form into an electronic format e.g. Microsoft Excel. The paper form could be a completed survey returned by a study participant or an internal training evaluation form.
As an example, a university runs a clinical trials study and sends out a paper form to their 500 study participants to complete. Each returned paper form needs to be manually keyed into a database which will take several days and is prone to human error.
Automatic data capture
With automated data capture software, you scan the paper survey on-site using a high-speed scanner rather than key-in data manually.
As documents are scanned, the software reads the information and extracts the data using OMR, OCR, ICR, barcode, and signature recognition technology. If the software is unsure about any character or field, it is held in a verification system for you to confirm or correct the data. Once verified, the data is exported to either an existing database or common format (e.g. Excel, CSV, XML or SPSS).
An automated data capture system includes the following tools: