Close up of a businessman assessing colorful charts on a page while typing in data on a keyboard signifying the importance of data capture

Is Not Automating Data Capture Holding Your Houston Business Back?

Every business runs on information. Even a lemonade stand has to track expenses and revenue. As modern companies take on new challenges and get more complicated, the scale of information rises rapidly. In order to organize that information, you have to participate in data capture. You have to create systems that allow you to track and analyze information, and how you go about that can dramatically impact the functionality of your business.

What Is Data Capture?

Data capture is an umbrella term that describes any and every method used to digitize information. Scanning a document is data capture. Manually filling out a spreadsheet is data capture. Downloading files from an email can be data capture. Filling out an online questionnaire can count too.

Clearly, every business needs some amount of data in order to operate. At the basic level, a store needs an accurate inventory count and receipts in order to function. Without those data, it’s impossible to maintain sufficient stock to satisfy customers, and taxes and accounting become completely impossible.

As businesses embrace more data processing, data capture quickly becomes more complicated. You can add online resources that help you track website visits and activity. You can look into the Internet of Things, where tons of sensors provide a constant stream of information to a central server that parses all of it to help you understand your own operations at a deep level. The sheer range of data capture methods is beyond staggering.

As you consider data capture and the benefits of data analytics, you will be weighing costs and benefits over and over again. What does it cost to capture the data? Are there significant labor investments? Do you need specialized equipment or software?

Meanwhile, what is the return on your investment? How can capturing this data help you make more money or somehow improve the bottom line? These questions will drive your decision-making in regards to data capture.

Why Manual Methods Are Holding You Back

For many small businesses, manual processes are common. It’s normal to scan receipts or documents into a computer manually. It’s common to manually enter information onto a spreadsheet to track spending, income, inventory, assets, and more.

Any time you rely on manual processes, you are spending money on labor. Even if the business owner is the one entering the data, that is time that could be spent on other aspects of the business. Manual data entry costs money, and it’s important to emphasize that point.

Beyond the cost of labor, manual entry is also slow. Depending on your business and how you run it, slow data can also be expensive. If your decisions are based on outdated information because your data capture isn’t fast enough, you will have sub-optimal outcomes.

This is one way data capture upgrades can provide a clear return on investments. Reducing labor costs and increasing the rate of information processing can help you strategize optimally, minimizing losses from poorly informed decision-making.

There’s a third issue with manual entry. It is more prone to errors. People mistype things. They misread things. They misunderstand things. All of that translates to errors in your data after it has been captured. If you are operating on wrong information, you can’t possibly make the best decisions.

You can minimize errors by spending even more money on error finding and re-entry, but those costs can snowball quickly. The best way to save money on data capture is to implement tools that make fewer errors.

Benefits of Automatic Data Capture

Any time you can automate data capture, you stand to benefit. Whether or not those benefits are worth the cost of automation will be up to you to determine on a case-by-case basis. To help you make those determinations, you can consider the prominent benefits of automatic data capture.

The first is reducing errors. Accurate information is important to running your business well, and correcting mistakes is expensive. Automation removes those mistakes from the outset. This helps you run a more efficient business, and it saves potentially massive labor costs tied to corrections and re-entry.

Speaking of labor costs, automation helps to lower those at the outset. Automated tools can collect data much faster than human hands. This improves productivity across the board and allows you to reallocate labor into things that aren’t easily automated.

That helps with employee satisfaction. Data management and entry can be meticulous and dull. Unless you have rare jewels among your employees, they will be happier when you let machines and software handle as much of the data entry as possible. That allows them to do work that uses their brains instead of slamming them with monotony throughout the day.

Last of all, automated data capture speeds up your business. You can have real-time information on a regular basis, allowing you to make decisions quickly and responsively. That responsiveness can help you beat competitors to the punch in many areas. Real-time data makes you competitive in ways that are just out of reach with manual data entry.

Automating data capture is not always simple or an obvious process. It’s ok to look for help finding the best solutions and the means to implement them. For all of that, you can contact Stargel today. We’ll discuss how you run your business and where the best areas of opportunity currently reside. We can help you explore automation options and plan to implement them. It all starts with a simple conversation.