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Factors Affecting Data Entry Cost
Data Entry Institute of Hawaii Data Services takes a cost-based approach to developing a fee for data entry services. Once we arrive at an estimate of the cost, we then add something for overhead and profit.
The basic steps in our typical production process include the following:
For the majority of the projects we work on, our fees range from 15 cents to 50 cents per data record; however, fees have been as high as $16 per record, or as low as 4 cents per record. A “record” is generally comprised of all the fields identified by the client as representing a complete, identifiable (and billable) string of information. In some cases, all the information on each source document represents a “record”(e.g. enrollment forms), and in others each entry in a listing can constitute a record.
What follows is a discussion of the factors affecting the cost of each of these steps.
Document Intake refers to the process of receiving the source documents and preparing them for scanning. How this is done and the amount of document preparation we are required to perform can greatly affect the cost.
In some cases, the client will have us set up a PO Box for a project. Source documents (e.g. product registration cards, medical insurance enrollment forms, loyalty card enrollment forms, etc.) are either mailed directly by the person filling out the form (i.e. one-at-a-time ), or are mailed in small batches from multiple client stores or offices. Data Entry Institute of Hawaii picks up the mail daily, opens the envelopes and prepares the documents for scanning.
We remove staples, paper clips, and post-it notes, and arrange all documents right-side-up and facing the same direction prior to scanning.
In other cases our clients collect the documents centrally and perform all document preparation prior to sending them to us. They then ship them in large batches to us. This minimizes the document preparation cost, but increases the turnaround time.
The general rule is the faster the required turnaround time, the higher the fee. This is to compensate for having to work staff longer and harder during short periods of time, as well as the added administrative burden to quickly get a job done.
In most cases, clients send us hard copy forms. When we are using our own system to capture data from the forms, we have found the most efficient method is to key from scanned image, or use a combination of key-from-image (KFI) plus various recognition technologies (e.g. Optical Character Recognition for machine print (OCR), Intelligent Character Recognition for hand print (ICR), barcode scanning, etc.). We use high-speed scanners (up to 80 pages per minute). The factors affecting scanning cost include:
Scanning costs can range from 2.5 cents to 10 cents per document, depending on the above factors.
Once documents have been scanned, the images and are imported into our data entry system. For each project, a "template" is developed within Data Entry Institute of Hawaii’s data entry system, programmed for the specific fields on the form. Each field can be programmed to restrict data entry to acceptable values. Any business rules a client defines for specific fields or forms can be programmed into each template. One example of specialized programming we incorporate involves address correction and verification, which is more fully described in the attached PDF file "Correct Address Features." The factors affecting the cost of programming include the following:
Programming is a one-time cost (unless the source document changes) that will generally average $250-400 for a single-page document.
Using the data entry template developed for a specific project, our data entry operators key the required data from scanned image. All work is performed on Data Entry Institute of Hawaii’s production servers. Data entry operator workstations connected to Data Entry Institute of Hawaii’s production server function merely as “dumb terminals”. All data and images remain on the server. Using a split screen, the operators view "snippets" of the scanned image in one part of the screen, and the data entry fields in the other part of the screen. The attached Snippet.PDF gives a simple example. The factors affecting the amount of time it will take to process a document, and hence the cost include the following:
This is the hardest one to estimate, and most vendors will be reluctant to provide a firm fee quote without seeing an actual source document, The above factors will greatly affect the amount of time. In addition, issues affecting the document (layout, legibility) and the type of data (numeric vs. alphanumeric) will affect the keying rate (can range from and average of 4,000 keystrokes per hour (KSPH) to 10,000+ KSPH).
Because every project is unique, and each client has different goals and objectives, it is not practical to take a 'cookie-cutter' approach to data entry pricing. The only good measure is to let us take a look at your project. That way we can give you a reasonable fee estimate based on the factors discussed above.
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