For instance, if you are using a spreadsheet application such as Excel, The sales clerk inputs the sales made for the day in to a spreadsheet. At the end of the day, just before the close of work, the total sales for that day are added together, in other words the sales data is processed and the result (the output) is printed and sent to the sales manager. The printed sales report which is being sent to the sales manager is referred to as information.
Three basic stages of data process are illustrated below:
- Daily sales invoice is collected and inputted into the computer(data)
- All sales are added together (process)
- The total sale is printed out (output)
The data process cycle has the following basic stages:
- Data collection and input
- Data processing
- Data output
Data Collection and Input Stage
The stage of data collection and input varies with the application used. However, this stage may include the following:
- Preparation of the source document
- Data coding and verification
- Data validation Data storage
These stages are further explained below:
Preparation of the Source Document
What is Source Document?
Source document as the name implies is the initial source of data. Examples are receipts, invoices, vouchers case notes, checks and any document from which data originates.
Data coding and verification
Data is encoded and verified in this phase. Data is transferred from the source document to the machine. The process of transferring source document details into the computer system can be done manually or electronically. For instance, data is transcribed though a keyboard device into a storage medium such as a magnetic tape or hard disk. Source document can also be transmitted over a network.
Data is validated
Data may be validated by using a computer-controlled process that checks the data for validation. For example, if the user inputs number instead of text, the computer rejects the inputs.
The data is sorted
Data is sorted for efficiency. A good example is when using database software; you can use a primary key to sort records in the relevant master file.
A major example of the data collection and input stage is using the Excel software application to produce a sales ledger. The data input may include:
- Account number
- Name and address of the customer
- The credit limit for the customer
- The balance in the customer’s account at any point in time; a zero balance is normally the first input when an account is first created.
Data Processing Stage
This is a computer-controlled stage in which the data is processed after input. For example the sales transaction for the day is totalled and transferred from the sales daybook to the sales ledger, using the excel software package. This data processing stage also involves storage and retrieval.
Data Output Stage
At this stage, the data that has been processed and is now in a useful form. That is, when that has been processed, it becomes information. The output (using the above example) will be the summary transaction for the day. This will be displayed in the Excel worksheet and can now be printed for management use. As said earlier it can also be saved and stored in an electronic format for future use.