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Offshore Data Conversion Management
Offshore data conversion companies can dramatically reduce the cost of converting unstructured data, or paper documents, into structured XML documents. But these companies are not experts in the content and business goals of a specific organisation. While some have onshore operations that simplify the setting-up of a new project, their personal are still part of the same provider, and so cannot offer impartial advice on the approach to be take and the exact nature of the XML tagging to be applied. They may also downplay the need for an organisation to check the quality of the data they will received, and the need for service agreements that place penalties on the provider if quality expectations are not met.
This is important because there are a number of pitfalls to be avoided in any successful data conversion project. The following questions need to be addressed in order to avoid these pitfalls:
  • is there a content model for the target XML format, and if one needs to be developed how will its suitability be assessed?
  • is the content model sufficiently well documented that mistakes in conversion can be kept to a minimum, and be unambiguously the fault of the service provider when errors occur?
  • has the selected supplier been given notice of all likely problems with the source data or documents (in order to assess their quote against the real-world problem)?
  • have quality standards been agreed, and set to an appropriate level, for both character capture accuracy and tagging accuracy?
  • have character-set standards been agreed, along with instructions on how to deal with exceptions?
  • has an appropriate quality checking process been devised, developed and installed?
This is a list of some the questions that need to be asked. There are several other issues to address. Text-box consulting can help to avoid all of the issues that can arise with data capture and conversion projects. Neil Bradley spent 8 years in the data capture and conversion industry, during which he wrote specifications, developed quality checking systems, and dealt with offshore sub-contractors.