Organizations today collect massive amounts of data as part of their normal operations, but in order for that data to be put to use it must be collected, analyzed and presented in a meaningful way. If your organization collects data on physical forms, such as written medical claims forms or a physical credit card application, someone has to enter that data into a database before it can be included in any analysis.
When we talk about the translation of data from one form into another, what we’re really talking about is a process known as “data conversion”. Data conversion can take many forms: a health care provider might use a data conversion service to digitize a backlog of patient records, a library might use data conversion services to produce digital copies of old books, or an insurance company might use data conversion services to process a high volume of claims forms.
Whatever the situation, organizations that implement data conversion as part of their core operations often save money and increase their efficiency by contracting with an outsourcing company that offers data conversion services. In our blog post this week, we offer an industry perspective on how you can start to outsource your data conversion efficiently and effectively using one of the many outsourcing companies that provide this valuable service.
How to Outsource Data Conversion Efficiently and Effectively
Outsourcing data conversion can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on the way your organization operates. If you rely on data conversion for daily operations, a reliable data conversion outsourcing company can help you keep up with the demand for continuous data processing as you scale your operation. If your goal is to leverage data within your organization into knowledge or insights that can inform business decisions, outsourcing data conversion can make that process happen faster and for less cost.
On the other hand, some outsourcing companies simply fail to deliver on these promises. Slow turnaround times, poor communication, lack of quality in data translation and poor data security can turn your data conversion outsourcing initiative into a disaster – but with a bit of due diligence, you can ensure that you choose the right partner to make your data conversion project a success. Here’s how to outsource data conversion efficiently for your organization.
Start by Assessing Your Needs
Before you begin seeking out a vendor that can satisfy your requirements for data conversion services, it is important that you begin with an assessment of your own needs. Understanding how your organization will leverage data conversion services, how you would like to coordinate the work flow and what your expectations are for success will allow you to better screen for vendors that can provide what you’re looking for. Here’s a short checklist of items you should consider when determining how you will use data conversion services:
- What kind of data will you be feeding into the data conversion process?
- What is the quality level of the data? How available is it? How will the outsourcing company access it? Does it need to be fully converted (capture all data points) or only partially converted (capture some data points).
- Which data points should be captured and stored in the database for analysis?
- Which data can be ignored?
- What formatting will you use to store/save the data? What format is the data in presenting?
- What volume of data must be processed?
- How frequently will data conversion be required?
- If you are digitizing a backlog of data, how much data is there? How long will the project take?
- What data conversion standards do you wish to use?
If you understand your exact requirements for a project, it becomes much easier to find a supplier that can deliver on those items while providing additional opportunities and value throughout the course of your relationship.
Know the Benefits of Data Conversion Outsourcing
Before you begin to outsource data conversion, your organization should develop a clear understanding of the benefits that it hopes to realize. After all, if the outsourcing process goes smoothly but generates zero benefits, what was the point?
Outsourcing data conversion to an offshore data conversion firm should yield a project ROI of 20-50% depending when compared to the cost of doing the work in-house, although results will vary depending on where your company operates. In addition to cost savings, organizations who leverage outsourced data conversion services converse resources that can be allocated to revenue-generating initiatives in the front office. Reduced overhead, fewer staff to manage and less burden on HR are all additional benefits.
Finally, a relationship with a data conversion outsourcing firm should save you time while maintaining or improving your current level of access to company data and the insights they hold.
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Establishing clear expectations and targets for your data conversion outsourcing initiative is an important step towards ensuring that the business benefits associated with the project are actualized. Your organization should set clear goals and expectations for both itself and the outsourcing partner, ensuring that objectives are reached on both sides. These can include:
- Targets for accuracy and turnaround time for the data conversion company, including a target accuracy rate for data entry of over 99.9% or more.
- ROI targets for your organization, ensuring that the outsourcing project is justified with a substantial cash savings when compared to establishing an in-house operation.
- Targets for weekly administrative time for the project, helping to ensure that outsourcing is freeing up more time for administrators to focus on other tasks in the front-office and not increasing administrative burden unduly.
Establish a Clear Transition Plan with Your Data Conversion Services Provider
Once you’ve selected a service provider that you may want to work with, a transition plan can be established to help ensure a smooth start to the relationship. During the transition, you will be sharing work, knowledge and data with the outsourcing company for the first time. There will be a ramp-up time as they allocate resources to your project and optimize the processes necessary to ensure delivery times at the agreed service level.
It is sometimes advisable to run a test project together under agreed parameters to establish a working relationship before moving forward on a larger project. However, this may not be necessary if your outsourcing firm can demonstrate a track record of success in data entry projects. Be ready to communicate and collaborate a lot in the early stages, but always move towards optimizing the process and automating it when possible.
Define Quality Standards and Conduct Audits
Organizations that outsource data conversion should maintain quality standards for their partners and verify that those standards are being met by conducting audits. Audits can take many forms. Your organization may ask to visit the offices of the outsourcing firm to better understand how their ISMS is working to protect your data security, or to see first-hand how the data conversion process is conducted by their operators.
Issues with the data conversion process can affect your in-house business operations and negatively impact your business growth, so it’s important to audit every few months and make sure everything is as it should be.
Outsourcing data conversion services can help you reduce costs and allocate resources towards more revenue-generating departments of your organization, but it’s important to outsource effectively with a reliable partner to maximize your results. Start by assessing your own needs and setting clear goals and expectations for yourself and your service provider. You’ll need to establish a transition plan to maintain required productivity levels while you transmit the work and knowledge that will allow the outsourcing company to take over your data conversion operations. Once you’re all setup, conduct regular audits to make sure that the data you receive meets predefined quality standards.