iTech Data Services

OCR outsourcing and data entry services In a Commoditized Market

Read Time: 4 minutes

Any of the many data entry companies out there 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 data entry service or outsourced OCR vendor. It’s the easiest solution, but it’s not scalable, and outside of weakening your bottom line, it provides limited differentiation. In the long run, low margins is not a winning strategy.

Lower Supply Chain Costs

Lowering your supply chain costs means finding cheaper vendors or squeezing the data entry service 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 margins. This can include the elimination of processes designed to maintain 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 most of their data read and captured with OCR, it cannot read the unstructured and semi-structured. All form types, including highly structured forms, require at least some manual intervention. Automating OCR data entry comes with a very high fixed cost, and if your data doesn’t work well with it, all you’ve added are process and price. Besides, adding new forms or making changes to OCR outsourcing can be very expensive.

How do you win new business without lowering your prices or adding unnecessary processes that don’t contribute to the quality and eat into your bottom line? There is one proven way to set yourself apart from the competition. It would be best to differentiate yourself by bringing your clients the perfect mix of talent and technology. It would be best if you focused on investing time and infrastructure or finding 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. For example, ML-based services where most of the redundant tasks are automated.
  • Rules-based data entry services
  • 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 price can vary, but it is measurable.

By decreasing the number of errors and turnaround, you can show your client quantifiable cost savings. Up to a 90 percent difference in error cost and significantly reduced turnaround times.

The Integration of Technology and Process to Reduce Human Decision Making

A typical low-cost data entry company may offer single-pass data capture that relies on a single person’s accuracy 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, most vendors use the typical approach 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. Besides, they lack sufficient error tracking, so the process does not improve, and you tend to see the same errors repeatedly.

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.

One great way to do this is introducing OCR paired Machine Learning Services.

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 OCR data entry process’s front end. This limits or eliminates the decisions a person can make by providing the entry of a smaller spectrum of data. Limit the data to require specific alpha or numeric data and certain table information; it can auto-populate data fields based on keying inputs or applying logic-based algorithms.

If you can pair OCR with machine learning services you will get even greater results as ML will learn and create new rules that makes the process even better.

Culture of Training to Attract and Retain the Best People

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


At the beginning of this blog, we discussed three typically used strategies  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 the perfect mix of talent and technology to differentiate your company and acquire 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 years with 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 determine 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, outsourced OCR, machine learning services, 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 info@itechdata.Ai

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