We can now make a formal statement of our policy on data entry. When we input data, we usually need to input a list of items where each has a date, a narrative and a number. We will scan in numbers from any printed matter using optical character recognition. This will normally be a system where we scan a pile of bank statements through our HP8600 printer/scanner and then process them. It could also be an LG OCR mouse scanner as a backup system, assisted by an onscreen toolkit which can process the results of the scan. The toolkit can also process spreadsheet data as occasionally supplied by clients.
Dates may be scanned by the OCR system, or “datepoints” may be generated for about one in ten material or significant dates which we then date manually. The remaining dates can be either interpolated or just copied down. When we enter a date, it is just the day that we enter, and the month and year are copied down automatically. We are therefore doing about one thirtieth of the work that anyone else would do.
All narrative will simply be typed in to begin with. After a while, we will run a narrative prediction routine which will guess all the narratives we need to type in next, and then we will overtype the predictions that are wrong. Sometimes the NP routine gets it all right first time, and at other times it is nothing special. Usually it is very useful. As backup systems, we have Excel’s autocomplete and our own super-autocomplete which continually analyses narratives typed in so far to look for the commonest narratives and also long-trigger narratives. These can then be entered with the keys f1-f10 and this system is self-locking after the first time an f key is used.
With handwritten records, we will try to enter data in columnwise order, so we type in all the numbers, which generates datepoints as a by-product. We then do the dates and the narratives with the assistance of narrative prediction. Here we have something equivalent to the OCR level of technology which can guess at handwriting, and get it right if the handwriting is repetitive. We have our own loose-leaf bookkeeping system to try to encourage clients to record transactions in columns which are easier to process.