Your Paper-based Data Collection Options Just Got Better

If your mission is to discover answers to objectives, improve performance, or find new ideas and create improvements, then you may need to conduct research and produce statistical analysis to support your mission. In order to do so, you may be faced with the challenge of data capturing from paper surveys and if you don’t choose the right method for your project then you may end up being over budget or facing data quality challenges. To avoid this issue, we will help you review four options to capture data from paper questionnaires, and ultimately, choose the best one for your project. You may be surprised with option 4.

Option 1 – Manual key entry by human operators. 

This option is great for small volumes. Manually entering data into digital format, usually through spreadsheets, can quickly become a time consuming and tedious task. Typically, if you have more than 500 surveys – you will likely be better off automating the data collection, but it really depends on the length of the survey. Manual key entry by human operators is also very prone to errors and many times you will have to use double key entry to ensure accuracy which  will double your labor costs.

Option 2 – Purchasing and maintaining data collection software.

This option can get very costly depending on the number of surveys that you process annually. A decent standalone software that has ICR and OCR capabilities, will be around $15,000 plus you will have to pay for annual support which is typically 18-20% of the cost each year. However, if you have high volume (even just for short periods of time) or need a networked system, it can quickly add up to more than $100,000. This also doesn’t cover the cost of the servers, employees that need to learn and use the software, etc. It adds up very quickly and only makes sense if you are processing hundreds of thousands or a million plus images annually. In short, purchasing and maintaining data collection software can require high initial spend, technical know-how, staff training, and ongoing support cost that is unlikely to be reasonable for a one-time project.

Option 3 – Utilize a service bureau.

This is a great option if you only have a couple of projects a year, or if you just don’t want to manage the process. Just make sure that you understand the bureau’s processes and that they align with your expectations. Does your survey have PII or PHI? If it does, what are their security measures when it comes to your data? Are they using overseas resources? Are their employees trained with HIPAA, are they compliant with HITRUST or any other privacy compliance that you require? Make sure you utilize a service bureau that has the data collection methods, technology, security, and experience to process your research surveys and deliver precise results based on your coding and output specifications.

Option 4 – Rent the software

With the advances in technology, DataForce is able to offer the option for you to remotely and securely scan your surveys into our data collection software that is available to you on a month-to-month, or project-to-project basis. You are able to scan your surveys locally using the “rented” software and any image scanner. You can either use your staff or the bureau’s staff to do the verification. (Verification is reviewing fields that fall out of tolerance so the human operator can apply the established rules.) Using a data collection software on a short-term basis, paper-based data collection becomes pretty painless and you only pay for the images that are processed. When a software rental option is utilized, you can select the most appropriate data capture methodologies and processes to complete your survey project on time and in budget.

DataForce will provide you with the training, survey scanning software, and support to gather the information your organization needs in the convenience of your own premises. No long term commitments or costly annual maintenance Learn how!

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