The stages of a data processing cycle are collection, preparation, input, processing and output. Storage of data is a step included by some. The data processing cycle converts raw data into useful information.
The first stage in the data processing cycle is collection of the raw data. The next stage prepares the data by coding, rearranging, classifying or otherwise organizing it more meaningfully. At the next stage, the input stage, the verified data is converted into a machine-readable form to be processed by a computer. This usually entails data entry by individuals. Once input, the data is processed. The processing subjects the data to various means of manipulation. The next stage is the output, where data becomes meaningful information that can be interpreted by others. The data processing cycle is the steps taken for data's evolution from raw, unintelligible figures and input to useful information.
Many data processing cycles also include the additional stage of storage. These cycles incorporate storage, where data, instructions and information are held for future use. Storage allows for future quick access and retrieval of the processed information if needed for further review.
Data processing often involves some combination of data conversion, validation, aggregation and analysis.