Even though data entry doesn’t get the same attention as other areas of business operations, it is still vital to daily operations in my many industries which requires a constant flow of information between customers, employees, managers, suppliers and regulators.
Almost every aspect of running a business involves a significant amount of data entry, management and storage. Data entry ensures that information enters a business’s administration and management systems accurately, conveniently and quickly.
Typically, most data entry tasks involve recording data from hard copies by typing information into digital formats such as text documents, forms, spreadsheets or specialized software. Examples of data entry tasks include inputting accounting and financial records, marketing data and customer details.
Despite the rise of software solutions that can manage and record vast amounts of real-time data, many data entry jobs continue to be completed by humans. However, as with any task that requires employees, there is a risk of human error and unfortunately, data entry errors can be extremely costly for companies.
Most commonly, data entry mistakes occur due to errors in two areas; transcription or transposition. Transcription errors usually occur during the transcribing of words rather than numbers and are caused by inputting information incorrectly. Transcription errors include deletion, repetition and typos which can happen regularly when employees are typing quickly due to hitting the wrong keys. Transposition errors on the other hand tend to occur when inputting numerical data in the wrong order.
In the process of data entry, errors and mistakes are inevitable, however, there are ways businesses and individual data inputters can reduce the risk of errors occurring and minimize the frequency and consequences of mistakes. Below, in the rest of this article is a guide on how to make fewer data entry errors and complete tasks more efficiently.
Improve Data Storage and Transfer
Oftentimes, businesses and teams of data inputters will use flash drives to share, store and transfer data, however manually loading files onto multiple flash drives can be a tedious and time-consuming task. One solution is to use bulk memory cards or flash drives with all the required files and software uploaded, the benefits of using preloaded USB flash drives include fewer data entry and manipulation errors, easy integration into a system, customization to specific needs and time savings. Flash drives preloaded with specialized data and content relevant to a specific business are suitable for use in all industries, some examples of preloaded data are catalogs, music, operating systems, PowerPoint slideshows, spreadsheets, training documents, software and video clips.
Bulk memory cards are an excellent way to quickly duplicate information onto portable storage devices which can be distributed to employees for training or potential clients.
Identify the Cause of Errors
The first step in reducing data entry and manipulation errors is to analyze data entry mistakes, patterns and statistics to discover the internal or external causes of inaccuracies. Highlighting data patterns can help to uncover the source of errors, which can then be fixed by improving processes and management methods.
In addition to analyzing data patterns related to errors, managers also focus on task-specific points of data to help identify causes of errors and inefficiency such as bottlenecks, software problems and unstructured tasks.
One technique used to discover data entry mistakes and data manipulation is data profiling, which is essentially the process of analyzing data to ensure it is complete, consistent, correct, reasonable and unique. Data profiling software analyzes data to find defects according to if data falls within or outside a set range or pattern.
Decrease Data Redundancy
Data entry is a time-consuming task for employees, so if they are overloaded with information, some of which may be irrelevant or unnecessary, they are likely to take more time to complete tasks in addition to increasing the risk of making errors. Therefore, businesses regularly review their documents and edit them by removing data that is useless so data inputters can focus on accurately typing the most important information.
Disorganized and fragmented data entry practices and procedures will almost certainly result in lots of data entry mistakes and corrupt or lost information. For these reasons, managers should ensure all data collection and entry processes are standardized throughout the business. Standard processes provide employees with a framework to work within so they clearly understand procedures for each type of document.
Some data entry inaccuracies and inefficiencies are caused by workforce issues, for example, having too few employees, a poor workplace culture, uncomfortable working conditions, a low level of training and overloading.
Planning to have the right number of employees to handle workloads is vital to preventing data entry errors, if the workforce is too small to complete tasks within normal working hours then overtime will be required. This often leads to employee fatigue resulting in a higher chance of mistakes, in addition to greater payroll costs and lower staff retention.
The working conditions of data inputters significantly influences their ability to work accurately, effectively and quickly. Feelings of discomfort and fatigue are not uncommon in offices, in addition to eye strain and repetitive strain injuries, therefore it is essential that employers tackle this issue by:
- Creating comfortable and healthy office spaces
- Allowing regular breaks
- Purchasing ergonomic desk chairs to support an employee’s back, neck and wrists to reduce muscle fatigue and strain
- Installing adequate lighting and computer screens to reduce glare and eyestrain
In addition to managing workloads and maintaining healthy working conditions, businesses should also make sure their staff are sufficiently trained to carry out their tasks competently. During training, employees should learn about the importance of data and how inaccuracies can result in a lot of lost money and time, as well as receiving training on how to process different documents.
Update Software and Systems
Even though the software tools and systems currently being used by a business may seem to be working well, there is always room for improvement in terms of accuracy and efficiency. Automating and upgrading systems can help to reduce the workload and less information needs to be entered and processed manually.
When something goes wrong data entry can cause massive disruption to the operations of a business resulting in substantial extra costs, so managers and data inputters must regularly review data entry processes to identify entry mistakes and their causes so they can implement various fixes and policies to reduce the risk of future data entry errors and manipulation.