Data Collection from Paper Forms

How to improve speed, accuracy and cost of collecting data from paper forms

How to improve speed, accuracy and cost of collecting data from paper forms

It’s said that the average benchmark for errors in manual data entry is 1 percent. This means that for every 100 fields, you can expect that one field was input incorrectly. Implementing a double entry process is one way to reduce the error rate, however, this becomes rather costly as you have two people doing the same job. What’s more, the redundancy reduces, but doesn’t eliminate, the number of mistakes made.

For organizations that need to enter data collected from paper forms, this quickly turns into a serious problem—and a costly one depending upon the mistakes made.

Enabling fillable forms to electronic data

Using PDF software to create fillable forms is a rather easy task since most applications provide a method to automate and capture data electronically. When that data needs to be collected on paper, the process becomes a bit more difficult.

Instead of manually entering fillable form data, some organizations opt instead to use optical character recognition (OCR) technology to capture the data from paper-based forms. This does speed up the process, however, you can still expect a high error rate since OCR is susceptible to mistakes when capturing images and turning content into editable text.

Ultraforms® addresses the problem of human and technological error when entering data from printed forms. Using 2D barcode technology, Ultraforms collects data entered into form fields and compresses it into machine-readable two-dimensional (2D) barcodes. When these barcodes are scanned, the data is transferred from the paper form into the data collection system.

The Ultraforms process

Using PDF software, such as PDF Editor Foxit PhantomPDF, you start by creating a fillable form. Be sure to leave space on the document for the scannable 2D barcode that Ultraforms, a small application embedded into the form itself, will create. You can now distribute this form to whoever needs to fill it out.

The end user fills out the form using either the Foxit PDF Reader or the Adobe Reader. When they’ve completed entering all their data, they print the form using either an ink-jet or laser printer. In the printed version, there will be a barcode printed that contains all of the data the user entered in each field. As long as you embed the Ultraforms application into the PDF document, printing the fillable form will generate the barcode. When scanned, the data capture system collects the form data.

The net net? This makes it up to 50 times more cost effective than manual entry and ensures the data collection process is free from errors.

What’s more, Ultraforms doesn’t even require an Internet connection to work. Users can still fill out forms, print them from any computer and achieve the same results. No more errors, no more false positives and no more redundancy with double and triple keying of fillable form data. And it works with any language!  A simple scan is all it takes to get the job done and get more accurate, lower cost data entry.

9 thoughts on “Data Collection from Paper Forms

  1. stampare

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  2. Wayland Sothcott

    I was hoping for a solution to a very common problem. Data collection from forms. Office staff often create forms in MS Word and give them to people to fill in. The next stage is that the office staff usually have to collect the forms and type the data into a spreadsheet.

    The obvious solution which is completely missed by this article is collecting data from forms filled in on the computer. Having sent the form to someone via email it is pointless for them to print it out and send you back the paper one. Unless you are creating work for the postman.

    The required solution is a simple package that ordinary office staff can create a form. One that can be emailed. The recipient then fills in the form on the screen and sends it back. The forms package should easily export the data into Excel format, from there the office staff can figure out what they want to do with it.

    It should be possible to print the forms but no requirement to. It should be possible to scan the forms but no requirement to.

    I have not seen a package like this so perhaps I should write one.



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