Online vs. Offline Data Entry

It is very important to be aware of the various advantages and disadvantages associated with online versus offline data entry processes. 

At Capital Typing, we emphasize smarter data entry solutions, which save time and money, while optimizing quality and accuracy of data. We are able to provide a better value to our clients because we understand the ins and outs of the data entry process, with regards to technology, best practices, personnel management, and on every level. Online versus offline processing plays an important role in many of these considerations.

This article will examine the following elements of the offline versus online data entry question:

  1. Speed of processing. Online work is almost always slower, because of the time it takes to load pages in a browser. Offline work, by comparison, allows loading of content stored directly on the workstation, thereby reducing processing time significantly.

  2. Connectivity requirements. Ideally, project managers in data entry projects always want their teams to have excellent connection to the internet. One big advantage to offline work, or work that can be done to some extent at least offline, is that it allows for lags in connectivity, which are often difficult to avoid altogether.

  3. The process of digitization. Dealing with offline sources, the task of bringing the data into an online environment requires an extra digitization step, which, depending on the nature of the data, may be complex. 

Our goal is always to understand the challenges and opportunities present in each aspect of the data entry project design, and to put together our process for each project in a way that gets the best out of every opportunity, while overcoming challenges in the simplest and most efficient manner. In this way, we develop project strategies that achieve more, with less. Simplicity, control, quality assurance, easier management and oversight, and cost effectiveness are built into the system.

Speed of Processing

Our analysis of a data entry project always includes consideration of the extent to which the data processing relies on page loading speeds online. For projects that rely heavily on fast loading times, it means we must ensure that the teams working on the project have fast internet. 

But there is an even better way we have developed, which is based on automated page loading in advance of the need. Our custom software loads the pages needed for the project automatically into the data operator’s workstation in advance, before work begins. This way, when the data entry process itself begins, the manual work, the speed is exactly the same as working offline. We overcome the challenge of slower load times by loading in advance.

This strategy has proven to be enormously effective in reducing work time, and cost. However, the restriction is that the nature of the data, for this strategy to work, must be that the pages are known or knowable in advance. Projects that require intuitive browsing through multiple pages to acquire final data for data entry are more difficult to process using this approach.

Connectivity Requirements

A corollary to the speed of processing concern, the challenge with connectivity is that many data entry operators, especially in the remote working scenario, which has proved in many cases to be the best practice for data entry projects, may not always have connectivity that is 100% reliable, 100% of the time. To be realistic, project design strategies should be able to manage with the norm, which may be around 95% up-time. 

The solution here is to design a data entry system based on a cache concept, where the data entry process is divided, conceptually, into online and offline processing cycles. In just about any data entry project, even though it may require strong connectivity, the connectivity is not going to be required at all times throughout the work. There will be browsing times where connectivity is required, followed by times where the data entry operator reads and copies the data, during which time connectivity is not necessary at all. 

We can design our data entry projects to accommodate internet connectivity lags without slowing down the data entry process, by allowing the data entry operator to switch seamlessly between tasks. By doing a significant amount of “strictly online” work in advance, he/she creates a pool or cache of offline processing capability, which, when the project is designed smartly, can be accessed on demand. In this way, problems related to connectivity go away completely.

Digitization Processes

Depending on the nature of the data entry project, digitization may be a simple matter of scanning pages, or it may be a more complex process, involving searching for data in analog sources.

Does the value of digitizing everything justify the work of sorting and scanning a large amount of data that may not be useful? Or is it smarter to do the work in the real world and catalog the data there, before digitizing only the data you need? 

These questions must be considered in view of the larger overall picture of offline versus online data entry. We need to be aware of page loading times, caching opportunities, the viability of software solutions for automatic page loading in advance, and the way how source data in analog sources is organized going into the project. Based on all these considerations, an experienced data entry project manager will be able to design the best solution for your project. These are some of the reasons why we recommend Capital Typing data entry solutions. We know the best practices—we have invented most of the best practices—to save you time and money and get the job done right.