Batch processing is a method of running high-volume, repetitive data jobs. The batch method allows users to process data when computing resources are available, and with little or no user interaction.

With batch processing, users collect and store data, and then process the data during an event known as a “batch window.” Batch processing improves efficiency by setting processing priorities and completing data jobs at a time that makes the most sense.

The batch processing method was first used in the 19th century by Herman Hollerith, an American inventor who created the first tabulating machine. This device became the precursor to the modern computer, capable of counting and sorting data organized in the form of punched cards. The cards and the information they contained could then be collected and processed together in batches. This innovation allowed large amounts of data to be processed more quickly and accurately than by manual entry methods.

Batch processing plays a critical role in helping companies and organizations manage large amounts of data efficiently. It is especially suited for handling frequent, repetitive tasks such as accounting processes. In every industry and for every job, the basics of batch processing remain the same. The essential parameters include:

Batch Processing Explained | Lightboard Series

What are the advantages of batch processing?

There are many advantages to using batch processing in a business, such as:

Lower operational costs

Because batch processing is essentially a one-time cost for volumes of processed data, batch processing helps lower costs in labor. Batch processing allows for production without human employees, reducing the number of new hires needed for a project, or employees for a department. Batch processing allows managers to assign employees that would have been part of the processing line to other duties, creating more efficiency in every new hire.

For example, if a manager hires five employees for data entry in payroll, but then replaces those five employees with a batch processing system that processes the data for them, then the manager can assign those employees to other tasks, such as quality checking or maintenance. Additionally, a manager can focus on other tasks due to batch processing, such as task delegation and other management duties.

Higher accuracy and speed

Because batch processing is an automated process by machines, there is less likelihood for error among the batch produced. Quality checks test potential batch processing programs thoroughly, ensuring there is little to no error. It allows for human error to be relatively limited and ensures that the calculations it mass-produces are close to perfect every time. Because batch processing calculates data faster than employees, batch processing offers a more efficient and consistent method of data processing.

Continuous workflow

Unlike a human-based system, batch processes work continuously, even outside of business hours or days. For computerized data batch processing, even in the event of a department shutdown, batch processing works regardless of the status of the department. Programs can work overnight, during holidays, during high or low periods and on any otherwise offline season. Employees can create a batch processing system to run day and night without need of human interaction, making a batch process a working figure that needs no breaks, schedule or vacation.

What is batch processing?

Batch processing is an automated process in which a computer processes data in batches or groups. Once employees set up a batch processing system, the process requires no human interaction for it to continue, aside from maintenance. Many companies use batch processing for data processing, such as payroll. Large companies use batch processing to compile large amounts of data involved in reports, downloads and other automated processes. They run at pre-scheduled times, often overnight or on a timed basis. For example, each month a company may run a batch process to pay bills for services and utilities.

What are the disadvantages of batch processing?

There are some elements of batch processing to consider before implementing a process in the workplace, such as:

Training and implementation

Because batch processing either requires programming or equipment, you will need qualified employees to implement the system into your department. In addition, batch processing requires trained employees to manage the system in setup, maintenance and other elements. Managers can learn how the entire system works, how to schedule a batch process and what to do in case of an exception notification. Consider training employees beforehand, after ensuring that your department can manage the batch processing system efficiently.

Maintenance and debugging

Because batch processing systems are complex, managers can ensure that their organization is both familiar with and equipped to handle the system. For batch processing machines, this means hiring mechanics, internal or external. For a batch process concerning data, managers can hire or assign employees to the batch processs maintenance. Consider hiring internal employees with knowledge of the batch processing system to make maintenance and debugging an efficient process.

Overall costs

Batch processing, both in mechanical and computerized formats, is an expensive business venture. Some businesses that are smaller may find a batch process too expensive of a cost to spend on what might not result in equal-value return. Consider comparing your potential savings to your installment cost of a batch process to ensure that the batch process saves money in the future.

Tips for managers involved in batch processing

Most batch processing systems use exception notifications to notify managers of any potential issues regarding a batch process. This system allows managers to work on other duties without the need to continuously watch a batch process until the process finishes. The following terms are important to managers involved in batch processing:

Dependencies

Dependencies are events that start a batch process. For example, if an employee swipes a time card, the system will generate a time and ID number in reaction and file the information in the chosen location. Another example is when an employee files an order for materials, causing a dependency. This action would cause the start of a batch process that informs those in the sales department about the pending request.

Monitors

Monitors are aspects of the batch processing program that search for exceptions. For example, if a process is taking too long in the batch process, a monitor detects the abnormal activity and creates an exception notification. The manager receives the exception notification, and then can take action to ensure the process continues on smoothly.

Should your business use batch processing?

There are many factors to consider when deciding about batch processing. Some of the business situations where batch processing is optimal include:

FAQ

What does batch processing mean?

The most valuable benefits of batch jobs include:
  • Large programs can utilize more dedicated servers when the work processes are in night mode.
  • With fewer users or employees online during off hours, the performance will be faster and more efficient at night.

What is batch processing and examples?

Put simply, batch processing is the process by which a computer completes batches of jobs, often simultaneously, in non-stop, sequential order. It’s also a command that ensures large jobs are computed in small parts for efficiency during the debugging process.

What uses batch processing?

Examples of batch processing are transactions of credit cards, generation of bills, processing of input and output in the operating system etc. Examples of real-time processing are bank ATM transactions, customer services, radar system, weather forecasts, temperature measurement etc.

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