The accuracy of data input is extremely important in any organization, whether small or large. Many data input methods exist but not all are created equally and some are better than others. Printed questionnaires can prove to be a rather challenging form of data input. Often, these questionnaires require respondents to fill in answers by hand. This method can often prove inaccurate because the person whom is responsible for recording the finding from the questionnaire may not be able to read every respondent’s handwriting. Another downfall to this method is the fact that a greater chance of error exists because there can be several steps to recording this information before results are given on a final report. Usually a process of reading, transcribing and recording into a final database is in place. In most cases the more steps that the process involves, the greater the risk for error increases. One suggestion to eliminate many of these errors is to scan the results mechanically. Although machines are only as smart as the operator, using machines reduced the chance of error because the machine can often scan the input more thoroughly than humans. (Stair & Reynolds, 2003, p. 60)
Another data input method is telephone surveys. Once again if the proper precautions are not taken to ensure accuracy, room for error exists. One of the best methods to decrease any chances of human error is to use some kind of voice recorder or voice recognition software that automatically records the results into a computer or any other storage device. Human translation errors may still occur with these methods if the particular speech of the person being interviewed is not taken into consideration. Voice recognition methods must be set up for the particular individual being interviewed to help to alleviate these errors. (Stair & Reynolds, 2003, p. 59).
A third method of data input involves bank checks. Banks have a systematic method put into place to input accurately this important and vital information. This method involves digitally processing and capturing information. Information is encoded onto bank checks and optically read with special equipment. A magnetic ink character recognition device is used for output of this information. These devices are specially made to recognize the information encoded on bank checks by the institution. (Stair & Reynolds, 2003, p. 60).
Retail tags are also an important place where data input is vital. Retail stores use tags to encode special information on merchandise such as product type and store location. Bar codes are used for this purpose and special scanners must be used to gather this information from the bar codes. Once the information is scanned, the information is sent and stored in some type of storage device for later analysis. A final method of data input involves the use of long documents. Entering data from long documents can prove to be tedious and quite inconvenient. Therefore, the best method for data input of long documents involves scanning the document and using character recognition software to ensure accuracy. To further ensure accuracy, the original documents should be high contrast and little notation should be present. (Stair & Reynolds, 2003, pp. 3, 60).
While this paper has discussed input methods, output is just as important. Input data would do little good if one could not ensure output. One method of output is color photography. Color photography can be extremely useful in showing important details of the output. Output quality is at its highest when high quality materials are used. The use of a high quality photo printer and photographic paper guarantees the highest level of accuracy. Special photographic editing software is a useful tool to aid in the process of preparing photographs to be transmitted. (Stair & Reynolds, 2003, pp. 33, 60, 62).
Resumes are another method of output. Resumes are extremely important documents that showcase a person’s job potential in a written format. For this reason, accuracy is a key component in the transmission of these documents. The use of portable document format (PDF) digital document files is essential to transmit these important files. These files are then transmitted to printers that print these documents on special paper for optimal results. Besides being printed on paper, resumes can easily be sent electronically through the use of e-mail.
Memorandums are another important source of output. Memos are often prepared using a word processor and printed using a high quality ink jet or a laser jet printer. (Stair & Reynolds, 2003, p. 81). Statistical reports are another form of output. For these reports, legible information is critical. For this reason, the report should be transmitted to a high quality printer directly from a statistical software application. Finally, company annual reports are a source of output. These reports should be output using portable document format transmitted to a high quality printer. The printer should then be equipped with high gloss paper to ensure premium output. (Stair & Reynolds, 2003, p. 82).
Handheld computers have become extremely popular in today’s tech savvy world. Convenience has become the demand for professionals on the go, so the use of handheld computers and personal digital assistants or PDAs has been on the rise. With the use of PDAs, one had access to e-mails and other important resources to get their job done quickly, efficiently, and conveniently. The invention of PDAs has brought a higher level of convenience and output.
Storage devices are not created equally. Certain devices are better for specific purposes. One form of storage device is the hard disk. Operating systems, files that are used on regular basis, and software applications are stored on these devices. Floppy disks are also used for storage. These devices are best used when files and applications need to be in a portable format. Floppy disks are best used to store smaller files. Other methods need to be used to ensure the proper storage of larger files. Another type of storage device is RAM. A computer uses RAM to store temporarily things such as applications in use, documents that are currently being prepared, web pages and files essential to the function of the computer. Larger files and applications are stored on CD-ROM. These files can serve as a backup copy to the original file. These files are not often used on a regular basis. Tape is another storage device most suitable for massive amounts of data needing to be duplicated for off-site storage or for use in system restoration.
Not only is RAM, hard disks, CD-ROMs and floppy disks means of data storage, but they also help determine the speed of a computer. RAM determines the speed of a computer because of the capacity and speed of the device. The capacity of RAM directly effects how much data can be processed at a single time and the RAM’s speed effects how fast RAM can function with the computer or input-output system. Clock speed is another determining factor for the speed of a computer. Clock speed refers to the speed of the central processing unit or CPU. If a computer has a faster clock speed, the computer will be able to complete more tasks in a given period. Another factor for the speed of a computer is data on hard disks. Data caches and rotation speed affect processing time. Much like data on hard disks, data on CD-ROMs have to be accessed in order to be used. Data on CD-ROM is subject to space restrictions and in most cases take more time to access than data on hard disks. The final means of data storage and determining factor of computer speed is floppy disks. Floppy disks tend to be slower than any other means of data storage and have a severely lower level of storage capacity than any of the other means.
Stair, R. M., & Reynolds, G. W. (2003). Fundamentals of Information Technology (2nd ed.). Boston: Course Technology.