The benefits of data capture outsourcing are many and varied, with clients walking away with a clean, accurate data set that can empower business leaders and stakeholders to make more accurate, profitable decisions.
There are a few things that clients can do to ensure success with a smooth data capture outsourcing project. Consider the following tips as you prepare to outsource a data capture project to a reputable service provider.
Clearly Define the Statement of Work (SOW) — And Communicate That Scope
Few things can lead to disappointment and even conflict like a poorly-defined statement of work (SOW, also called a scope of work). Consider the following scenario. You submit virtual piles of documents to a data capture services provider and they immediately get to work on this urgent project. A few days later — right on schedule — you receive your data set. Except there is a big problem: the deliverable represents a fraction of what you were expecting. The contractor omitted numerous fields from their data capture work because they didn’t realize the full scope of work for your project.
This sort of scenario can be disastrous for service provider and client alike. The deliverable was a must-have item that was required for proceeding to the next phase of your own project. Now, you are confronting major delays. Timeline aside, the data services provider quoted the project based upon what was actually delivered. This puts the service provider in a bad position whereby they must scramble to perform the “extra” work and charge more than expected or take the loss and everyone involved is left to walk away with a sour taste.
This can all be avoided by clearly and carefully articulating the project’s statement of work at the very beginning of the engagement. The statement of work for a data capture project should outline and define these key points.
Processes – What processes will the service provider be using to handle and store your data? This includes the type of data services that will be performed, in addition to how your data will be handled, stored and encrypted. Processes are particularly important for clients who have special needs in terms of encryption or data privacy. For example, a company in the health care industry may need to have their documents and data treated in a manner that is HIPAA-compliant.
Cost – There are few things worse than sticker shock, especially when it’s a mission-critical deliverable in question. This can lead to an ugly situation for all involved parties. For this reason, the SOW must include a clear breakdown of cost — not just a total price. The breakdown allows for a fair adjustment down the road in the event that the scope of work changes or part of the project cannot be completed.
Turnaround Time – The world’s most accurate data set is useless if it’s delivered two weeks after it was expected (and needed.) Both the client and the service provider must be crystal clear on the expected turnaround time for a project. Whenever possible, add a buffer into that timeline so you don’t find yourself scrambling in the event the data capture service provider encounters a setback on their end.
Quality Expectations – Quality expectations must be articulated for data capture projects because there is significant potential for error with some technologies. For example, a shady service provider might use a low-quality OCR scanner that generates poor data sets that are plagued by errors. You could be stuck with piles of useless data if your SOW omits notation on minimum quality expectations. A minimum accuracy level must be indicated in the SOW to ensure you get exactly what you expect by way of quality and accuracy.
All of these points must be clearly articulated in the SOW.
It is also prudent to put service level agreements (SLAs) in place for each data capture project. A SLA outlines the nature of the work, the minimum level of service to be provided, the metrics that will be used to measure success and any remedies or penalties that will be imposed if the agreement is breached. This provides added clarity and peace of mind for everyone involved.
Identify the Stakeholders on Both Sides of the Partnership
As you engage in a new data capture outsourcing project, take the time to identify stakeholders on both sides of the fence. It is important for the client and the data services provider to understand:
- Who is your point of contact and what is their role?
- Who is driving the decision-making process on both sides?
- Who should you contact if a problem arises and escalation is necessary?
In a working relationship, all involved parties should be familiar with each other and each party’s role in the project. This allows for more streamlined communication and a smoothly-run data capture outsourcing experience.
It is advisable to create a document with names, roles and contact information for all involved parties. This document should also include an outline of escalation processes.
Remember, there is no such thing as “over-communicating,” so when in doubt, spell it out as you prepare for an outsourced data capture project.
Data Capture Outsourcing Success Through Monitor, Review, Repeat
Transparency is key for a successful data capture outsourcing project. This is only achievable with strong communication. The client feels empowered when they are aware of the project’s status at every stage in the outsourcing process.
To achieve this, monitor, review and repeat throughout the data capture project.
- Monitor – The data capture outsourcing partner should have a process in place for documenting their progress on a project, including successes and challenges.
- Review – The client and vendor should meet regularly to review the progress of the data capture project and to verify that targets are being met. This review process also provides a chance to implement a remedy or adjust expectations if the project happens to be falling behind schedule.
- Repeat – In the SOW, define the frequency of reviews. The frequency will vary according to the project size and expected timeline.
The “monitor, review, repeat” strategy presents a good opportunity to evaluate the project relative to the SLA and SOW. If the project appears to be going off the rails in any way, the data capture outsourcing vendor and client can perform a comprehensive root cause analysis to identify and rectify the issue.
Enjoying the Benefits of Data Capture Outsourcing
A well-managed data capture outsourcing project can bring many benefits to a client. With the aforementioned tips, you can ensure success with a vendor who quickly delivers an accurate, high-quality data set at an affordable cost.
At iTech, data capture outsourcing services are one of our specialties. For many clients, our data solutions are a game-changer, empowering company leaders to make smart, data-driven decisions in today’s competitive business world. Contact iTech today to discuss our data capture outsourcing solutions and whether these services may be right for your business goals.