Elements of Electronic Data Processing

Elements of Electronic Data Processing

Published On June 24, 2014 -   by

Every business or organization every individual, in fact in the modern age is a data-generating engine. The world could very accurately be said to run on data, from purchasing histories to voting trends, from electronic medical records to sales data. The advent of computers and later the Internet has made it easier than ever for companies of all sizes to gather endless streams of data about their customers, their competition, and their market but without organization, these oceans of data are worse than useless. That’s where Electronic Data Processing (EDP) comes into play.

EDP is a generic term describing a system of hardware, software, procedures, and people working together to sort and process data into useful forms. This involves much more than simply gathering information it involves applying intelligent analysis and manipulation to data to put it to work.

The modern age has produced economies of scale in computer technology that allow even very small businesses even sole proprietors to take advantage of the power of electronic data processing. Software designed for desktop computers and shared Internet tools like Google Analytics combine to give the power of EDP to just about everyone but no matter the scale of the processing required, EDP always involves these four basic elements.


In the pre-computer age, data processing was performed by human beings; when companies such as IBM began introducing practical computers to the workplace in the 1950s and 1960s, the word electronic was appended to the term to distinguish this processing from the traditional sort.

Today almost all Electronic Data Processing is done on computer systems, but these systems vary widely:

  • Servers: Larger organizations frequently have server-side computer systems that collect and process data streamed from connected devices.
  • Personal Computers: Laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets are frequently used as point-of-sale devices, data entry devices, and in other data-capture scenarios.
  • Cash Registers: In the modern retail setting, point-of-sale registers collect data about every transaction.
  • Medical Devices: In hospitals and home care situations, medical devices record an enormous amount of data about patients and their care.
  • Scanners: Much of the data recorded in the modern age remains on hardcopy for a wide variety of reasons. These hardcopy records must be transformed into digital formats via scanners and associated software (see below).
  • Barcode scanners: Data is frequently encoded in warehouse scenarios and similar situations, allowing for fast and efficient collection of data via mobile scanning hardware.
  • Video and Audio Equipment: Data can also be recorded in multimedia format and then transcribed (either via software or human transcriptionist).


Hardware does nothing unless instructions are provided via installed software. Much of this software is very customized and it’s very common for EDP programs to not be generally available or to be entirely developed in-house. There are several categories of Electronic Data Processing software:

  • Data Entry: These applications range from general-purpose spreadsheet programs such as Excel to extremely customized point-of-sale programs or other bespoke installations.
  • Scheduling Software: Applications that track employees or other entities and record their movements, involvement in projects, and other data create and process large pools of data.
  • Accounting Software: These applications are designed to track financial or other numerical transactions and apply formulas and other analytical devices to them for predictive or historical modeling purposes.
  • Analytics Software: Analytics are designed to take in large volumes of specific data and produce flexible, customizable reports. Google Analytics is a common example of such software.

There are ancillary software packages that might be used in EDP. For example, if hardcopy data is scanned into digital format, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software might be used to cull text and other data from the resulting image file.


An Electronic Data Processing Company will generally follow several basic steps in processing data regardless of the industry or type of data being collected:

  • Data collection: The literal acquisition of data in some format.
  • Conversion: Transforming the data into the correct format for the Electronic Data Processing system.
  • Validation: Review of the data to ensure it is in the correct format.
  • Sorting: Separating similar data streams into appropriate buckets.
  • Aggregation: Combining data streams.
  • Analysis: The actual processing of the data using formulas and other transformative techniques.
  • Reporting: Creation of human-readable reports that ‘boil down’ data analysis into easily understood concepts.


The final aspect of Electronic Data Processing is the people who create, administer, and feed the EDP system. This includes:

  • Programmers who create either bespoke EDP systems or individual components, such as Spreadsheet macros or formulas.
  • Technicians who install and maintain the hardware, whether off-the-shelf servers and desktop computers or custom in-house hardware.
  • Data Entry Specialists, whether at point-of-sale kiosks or in warehouses scanning barcodes or at desktop terminals keying in data directly.

No modern business can survive long without a robust EDP solution that allows them to better understand their market, their business, and their resources, both human and otherwise.

– Data Czar @ DEO

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