Anyone in the Data Capture industry can attest to the fact that it’s highly competitive. Common strategies used to differentiate and win new business may feel good, but they don’t scale. This article will help provide an understanding of what doesn’t work and how you can fix it.

The most three most common strategies to differentiate your data capture business are:

  • Lowering your Margins
  • Lowering your Supply Chain Costs
  • Forced Automation

Lower Margins

Lowering your margins only serves to make you the cheapest vendor. It’s the easiest solution, but it’s not scalable, and outside of weakening your bottom line, it provides very limited differentiation. In the long run poor margins is not a winning strategy.

Lower Supply Chain Costs

Lowering your supply chain costs means finding cheaper vendors or squeezing the vendors you have. You get to keep your margins, but at the cost of quality. Low cost vendors go hand in hand with high error rates and squeezing your vendors only serves to force them to find ways of protecting their own margins. This can include the elimination of processes designed to protect quality. You’ll risk not attracting the best customers, you’ll have trouble retaining quality conscious clients, and constant streams of rework will eat into the margins you thought you were saving.

Forced Automation

This the trendy option. It shows a high potential ROI and doesn’t force you to lower your margins or squeeze your supply chain. The problem is you can’t force automation. While some structured forms can have the majority of their data read and captured with OCR, most cannot because of their unstructured or varied nature. All form types, including highly structured forms require at least some manual intervention. OCR automation comes with a very high fixed cost and if your data doesn’t work well with it all you’ve added are process and cost. In addition, adding new forms or making changes to OCR can be very expensive.

So how do you win new business without lowering your prices or adding unnecessary processes that don’t contribute to quality and eat into your bottom line? There is one proven way to set yourself apart from the competition. You need to differentiate yourself by bringing your clients the perfect mix of talent and technology. You can either invest in the time and infrastructure to do this or you need to find the right partner. The right partner will be able to deliver the following:

  • Measurable cost savings through error reduction
  • Integration of technology and process to reduce human decision making
  • A rules based data capture process
  • A culture of coaching and training to attract and retain the best people

Measurable Cost Savings through Error Reduction

Every data capture error and delay has a cost associated with it. Depending on the industry and the critical value of that data the cost can vary, but it is measurable. By decreasing the number of errors and turnaround you can show your client a measurable cost savings. Up to a 90% difference in error cost and significantly decreased turnaround times.

The Integration of Technology and Process to Reduce Human Decision Making
A typical low cost vendor may offer single pass data capture that relies on the accuracy of a single person with no oversight or quality control. More sophisticated and higher quality, higher cost data capture providers add one or many quality control layers to the process. Although they differ slightly, the typical approach most vendors use is to double the number of people capturing the same data, adding additional oversight. Unfortunately these methods still rely heavily on human decision making and fail to deliver consistent quality. In addition they lack sufficient error tracking so the process does not improve and you tend to see the same errors over and over again.

The very best way to ensure clean, error free data is to eliminate as many human decisions as possible. Requiring simultaneous keying that is auto compared and verified at the field level effectively eliminates human decision errors made during quality check processes and decreases data capture turnaround times.

Rules Based Data Capture Process

In addition to potentially adding OCR (if necessary and based on form structure, type, and need) you should always introduce automated rules on the front end of the Data Capture process. This limits or eliminates the decisions a person can make by providing a smaller spectrum of data that can be entered. Data can be limited to requiring specific alpha or numeric data, specific table information, it can auto populate data fields based on keying inputs, or apply logic based algorithms.

Culture of Training to Attract and Retain the Best People

Great processes and technology still rely on the proper training and support to efficiently deploy them. A continuous quality improvement program aimed at retaining the best people should include a verification process that provides the ability to track data capture errors and targets training to eliminate them. It should also have processes used to train and update every level of the capture team, executive support, and a readily available project management staff to ensure SLA compliance and client satisfaction.

Summary

In the beginning of this Blog we discussed three strategies that are typically used to win new business in a competitive market and why they do not work;they are:

  • Lowering your Margins
  • Lowering your Supply Chain Costs
  • Forced Automation

We also provided the recipe for perfect mix of talent and technology that would differentiate your company and help to win new business. It included four things:

  • Measurable cost savings through error reduction
  • Integration of technology and process to reduce human decision making
  • A rules based data capture process
  • A culture of coaching and training to attract and retain the best people

So how do you know if you have the right recipe for success? First take these steps:

Assess error rates over the last two yearswith your current vendor

  • Are your error rates static?

Determine the cost of error

  • Are errors costing clients (quality control and turnaround)
  • Are errors costing you (rework and lost revenue)

Identify root causes of errors and delays

  • Are you just fixing symptoms?

Assess current vendor and vendor processes

  • Do their processes rely heavily on human decision making?
  • Are you sacrificing quality for cost?

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions in these four steps call us to find out how we can help grow your business in a commoditized market.

About iTech

iTech Data Services is a US-based data services and content management company with principal operations in the United States and India. iTech specializes in delivering cost-effective and quality solutions, including document scanning, OCR/ICR data capture, data entry, data integration, forms processing, workflow management, data transformation, and data archiving. Well trained and skilled employees, and state-of-the-art off-shore locations enable iTech to deliver optimal solutions for its clients. For more information contact Jason Dodge at jason@iTechDataServices.com