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Top 10 Tips For Data Entry

What is Data Entry?

Data entry is simply the term used for transcribing (typing) the records from your archive items and supplying these records back to you in a format that allows you to perform very quick searches on the data.

TIP 1: List ALL the Reasons for Performing Data Entry

Make a FULL LIST of all the reasons WHY you would like to capture the records in your registers and then give this list to any potential suppliers.

Possible reasons why you might consider capturing your records include: Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity (What happens if there is a fire or flood in the building? What happens if there is a burglary?); Faster access to information (reducing staff ‘search’ time and therefore saving time and money); To Comply with new Government Legislation (The Freedom of Information Act says that you must supply information to the public within 21 days); To Generate Revenue for the Organisation (Allow the public to search the records online after paying a fee).

TIP 2: Don’t use OCR on handwritten records

Ask your potential supplier how they capture the data. If they say that OCR is a possibility then BE WARY! OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and is a piece of software that tries to read the words on a page and then convert those words into digital text. OCR does not work with old hand-written records – achieving at best an accuracy rate of around 40%.Your database must be VERY ACCURATE otherwise it will be of little or no use.

TIP 3: Ensure your Data is Accurate!

Ask your potential supplier if they can provide any GUARANTEES regarding accuracy. They should be able to provide an accuracy guarantee of at least 95%.

TIP 4: Don’t Waste Money!

Ask your potential supplier if the records they have captured NEED to be placed into a ‘SUPPLIERS SYSTEM’ in order to make them SEARCHABLE. The answer should be “NO”.

Generally speaking it is much more expensive to place a record into a ‘SUPPLIERS SYSTEM’. This is because a System will have many ‘mandatory fields’ and therefore much more data needs to be captured for each record. Capturing less data will reduce the data capture costs substantially and by linking the records through to scanned sheets you will be able to quickly find a record and view the ‘actual’ scanned sheet within a matter of seconds, with 100% accuracy and at a substantially reduced cost.

TIP 5: Hotlink to Scanned Images for 100% Accuracy

Ask your potential supplier if they can supply software that can link the captured records through to the scanned images. This means that when the software shows you the records you have searched for (for example after searching on fields such as surname, year etc.) that you will then be able to click on the record and see the actual Scanned Image from which that record was typed. The benefit of ‘hot-linking’ is that you can quickly find the image you are looking for via a searchable database and then you are able to look at the ‘actual’ scanned record and thus providing a 100% guarantee of accuracy.

TIP 6: Consider Placing Records on the Web

Ask your potential supplier if they have any experience of publishing the captured records online. Whilst this may not be a requirement for you at the moment – it may become a requirement within the next few years and it is therefore worthwhile asking the question. Ask your supplier to provide the address of a website they have built that allows the public to search through a similar archive..

TIP 7: Ask for your Data to be Captured in Weeks… Not years!

Ask your potential supplier how QUICKLY they can capture your records. Most suppliers will have a bank of typists that are contract, part- time and permanent – which means that they can be flexible when it comes to meeting deadlines. The suppliers’ typists should not be typing the data directly from your original archive because this means that your archive will be taken away from you for a lengthy period of time. Instead, the suppliers’ typists should be typing the records from the scanned images. Typing from the scanned images has two benefits: 1) Your archive is not taken away from you for any lengthy period of time; 2) More than one typist can type the records from the same sheet at the same time and therefore the data capture can be performed much quicker.

TIP 8: Get a FIRM Price

Ask your potential supplier to give you a firm price to perform your data entry. If the supplier has lots of experience in capturing similar records then they should have a standard price-list. If you are able to provide them with information such as – how many records you have then they should be able to give you an instant quote.

If you don’t have the budget to perform a full data capture for all of your records – ask your potential supplier if they are able to CAPTURE RECORDS IN BATCHES (i.e. on a Region by Region or Year by Year basis).

TIP 9: Choose an Independent Company

Ask your potential supplier if they are an INDEPENDANT COMPANY. It is preferable that the supplier is completely independent as this guarantees that their advice will be unbiased. Also be wary if you have been referred to or advised to use a certain supplier because ‘they are the only ones who can do the job’. This certainly isn’t true.

Do not be ‘bullied’ into using a certain supplier.

TIP 10: Get Testimonials & ask for case studies

Ask your potential supplier to provide details of other clients that they have worked with and ask to see some case studies.  If a supplier has positive client testimonials then this should give you further confidence with regards to the organisations experience and capabilities

You can find out more about TownsWeb Archivings digitisation services and ask for further advice by contacting us.