Forms processing system cuts data-entry costs for AAT

Since installing an AutoData forms processing system from Southampton-based Kendata Peripherals , the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has begun to enjoy significant cost savings in the administration of its twice-yearly Central Assessments.

The AAT, which is the professional body for accounting technicians in the UK, holds its Central Assessments in June and December at 550 Approved Assessment Centres throughout the UK and overseas. Of the 60,000 registered AAT students who receive entry forms for each Assessment, typically 30,000 to 40,000 entries are sent back to the AAT.
According to Gary Burbidge, the AAT's computer and administration manager, "it used to take three staff up to five weeks to manually key in the information from all these forms in the run-up to an Assessment."

In order to reduce the costs associated with manual data entry, the decision was made to invest in a forms processing system that would simply scan in the information from the entry forms.

Following a careful evaluation, the AAT settled on Kendata's AutoData system, which includes forms processing software, a choice of desktop scanner, Microsoft Word templates and special TrueType fonts.

As well as enabling customised forms to be produced using familiar packages such as Word, the AutoData system can read data in a variety of formats, including printed type, handprinted characters and check-mark zones.

The AAT quickly and easily redesigned its entry forms to take advantage of AutoData's versatility, using printed-type fields for the Assessment Centre code and name, handprint fields for dates and any alternative centre details, and check-mark zones for the candidate's choice of subject.

Completed entry forms are now scanned in, in batches, and the processed information is stored in an Informix relational database developed by Systems Team, which specialises in business systems for membership organisations.

"With the volume of forms that we handle, the AutoData system has made a big difference," commented Burbidge. "Now we can enter data in about a fifth of the time that it took previously, and the resultant savings have already more than justified the cost of the system. It has been a resounding success."

In fact, AutoData has been so successful that the AAT has expanded its use to other areas and now, together with the Systems Team software, it handles core administration functions such as annual membership renewals.

4th May 1999 Ref. KE108/2