9 Tips to help you Improve the Accuracy in Data Entry
An error in recording information pertaining to results of random tests done on drivers for driving under the influence could lead to hundreds of innocent drivers being labelled as drunk drivers.
An error in entering the time of calls could result in wrong calls being sent by a telecommunications provider to investigating authorities leading to innocent people being charged with a crime.
NASA sends a vehicle into space to circle Mars and take pictures to assess the presence of water. The vehicle misses the planet by 900 million miles and is now lost in deep space. Possible culprit: a data entry error.
These are hypothetical examples. But similar events have happened.
Data entry accuracy remains a key requirement for business. Why business, any organization. Or mankind. We all know the GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) principle. Output cannot be better than the input. If incorrect information is used for arriving at some conclusion or analysis, the resultant cannot be expected to be correct.
In a business situation, inaccurate decision making is the immediate, obvious result of incorrect data input. Lost revenues, increased costs, wasted media dollars, incorrect hiring decisions, wrong bids, inaccurate segmentation, can all result from a simple data entry mistake.
While it cannot be anyone’s objective to make mistakes, they do happen and often successful businesses get differentiated from unsuccessful ones because they are better able to manage their data entry process and control errors.
oWorkers has been supporting clients from around the world in various kinds of data entry projects. We have consistently delivered over 99% levels of accuracy (and 100% in projects where this was required) over a variety of input applications and measurement systems.
1. Understand the big picture for data entry accuracy
One does not need a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
Different data entry projects have different objectives. Transcribing a handwritten prescription is different from entering the results of a blood test to check for the presence of alcohol. Each project and business has its own set of expectations and a different cost for errors.
Resources and capabilities are finite. If the company invests in sledgehammers for killing flies, it may not have the resources or inclination to buy another sledgehammer when a bigger pest comes around.
Hence it is important to understand the big picture. What is the cost-benefit analysis of investing in error elimination? Till what point? Do we need 100% accuracy or can we make do with 95%. The greater the accuracy requirement, the greater is likely to be the cost associated with it.
oWorkers has a well-oiled project machinery that has transitioned over a hundred projects, including data entry projects. Our project leaders engage with the client in an effort to understand and thrash out the expectations, based on which the contract is written and work done. Understanding the clients’ goals empowers us to take the right decisions when the time comes for a decision.
2. Define expectations and set goals
In a setup where people are required to perform mechanical tasks, it is possible, and useful to define performance expectations and set up accuracy goals. Clarity is of utmost importance in achieving data entry accuracy.
Even though at the project level the goals may be understood, the work will eventually be done by individuals. Hence, it is important that each individual involved in the execution understand the expectations and the consequences of doing well or poorly against them.
If there are large teams engaged in execution, it would also be important to ensure that the goals set are equally fair and challenging to all. If some people are assigned lower goals on account of their inexperience, the resultant payouts should also be lower.
oWorkers works with employees, and not freelancers or contractors, like some of our competitors do. We take it upon ourselves to define goals for each individual and also provide growth paths. Regardless of whether an employee is working on data entry or any other assignment, goals and expectations are in place for each individual, with a system for periodic tracking of the same followed by feedback.
3. Hire the right resources
For a job that is to be done manually, hiring the right resource will play a key role in the output. Organizations with large data entry requirements usually face a conundrum; what is the right level of experience and educational background to look for. Too qualified, and they may soon lose interest in a repetitive task like data entry. Too unqualified would reflect poorly on inner motivation and desire to succeed.
The consensus that seems to have emerged is that hiring people with basic educational skills is perhaps the right approach. It is supplemented through the provision of job-specific training once hired, to enable them to deliver.
oWorkers is deeply committed to the communities we work in. This makes us a preferred employer in all our locations driving traffic of interested candidates through our doors. This provides us with a choice of qualifications needed by different projects while keeping hiring costs low that are shared with clients. This also gives us the flexibility of ramping up and down at short notice, a service that is useful for many clients as there are invariably some seasonality or strategy-driven peaks and troughs in business volumes.
4. Provide training support enhances data entry accuracy
The training team is joined at the hip to the hiring team in most BPOs. It is perhaps the training team that has played a key role in BPOs employing thousands of people who are now able to contribute to the organization and earn a living thanks.
Data entry needs a special mention in this space. It is now widely agreed that the job of a data entry operator does not need any specific educational qualification or work experience. All it really needs is willingness to work and interest in picking up the skills. These rough diamonds are then worked upon by the training team and polished to the point they can deliver.
oWorkers has a dedicated training team at each location we operate from, staffed by professionals who not only make new hires fit for purpose, but also keep assessing tenured staff to identify areas and opportunities for training and upskilling. After all, it is also the organization’s responsibility to ensure that its employees are able to grow.
5. Human Resource management for data entry accuracy
Hiring the right resources is clearly an important step, but keeping them engaged and motivated is perhaps an equally important one. This is most relevant in the area of data entry. On account of being a mechanical and routine job, it has the capacity to create mental dullness in the people assigned to the task. It is also easy to get burned out doing the same thing day in and day out, without much scope for mental application.
It starts with ensuring the workload is reasonable and goals are fair. Unreasonable goals and workloads can lead to staff employing short-cuts that are likely to lead to more errors. The compensation matrix should be geared towards rewarding good performance like accuracy in case of data entry.
The surrounding environment should be conducive to producing work of good quality. It could be comfortable chairs, good quality audio systems, breakout areas, healthy snacking choices, timely breaks, neat and clean workplace, or anything else. The more we permit employees to focus on their work, instead of worrying about ambient sounds, creaking furniture and illegible computer screens, the better is the likely output. Set up your employees for success, not failure.
While oWorkers has always prided itself on providing clean, hygienic, modern office spaces, even for people who opt to work from home, we ensure a virtual environment and technology that is conducive to good quality work.
6. Deploy an independent Internal Quality team
The Internal Quality team is a fixture in most BPOs. In organizations trying to achieve data entry accuracy, they have an important role to play. Apart from the process improvement measures they seek to bring about to enhance efficiencies, they are also involved in keeping a check on the work done by the delivery teams. They are like an internal ‘external’ party who report not to the delivery organization but to senior management. This enables them to maintain the independence of their work and produce insights that are honest and reflective of the real quality. In addition, they act as the eyes and ears of senior management who they report directly to.
The senior management, since they cannot be everywhere, rely on the insights produced by the Internal Quality team to get an understanding of process health and get more deeply involved if required.
oWorkers uses the full range of services of the Internal Quality team, from continuous improvement to process adherence. The leadership, though they have over 20 years of hands-on experience between them, also rely on this team for keeping track of the multiple projects that are operational at any given time.
7. Leverage technology solutions
This is perhaps a no-brainer.
At one level, this might mean automation. If the advances made by technology enable you to automate certain data entry processes that were done manually earlier, chances are that it will happen, once the technology becomes deployable in a commercially feasible manner. Optical Character Recognition OCR), Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) and Speech to Text are some such technologies that are being used.
However, what about the data entry that still needs to be done manually?
Since a computing device has the ability to understand each keystroke that is being pressed, it lends itself well to the production of reports and analyses on the data being entered. By producing reports on trends and exceptions and variances, it should be possible to identify a significant number of incorrect transactions of data entry which can then be corrected. Many tools also provide shortcuts and other utilities that reduce errors. In some cases, it should be possible to put validation rules that do not permit data to be entered unless it satisfies the rule. For example, if the mobile number has 10 digits in a certain geography, unless 10 digits are entered, the information cannot be saved.
oWorkers has forged a number of partnerships with technology companies. These partnerships give us access to the latest technologies introduced by these companies and deploy them for client projects. This way, we are able to control and manage the date entry tasks and mitigate errors. clients also benefit from the use of the latest technologies.
8. Implementing process control
Techniques like double key entry have gained in acceptance over a period of time as a method of achieving improved data entry accuracy. As data entry resources are inexpensive, many organizations get the same data entered by two different operators. This often works out better than getting another person to check the entry done by one person. Firstly, a supervisory resource who checks is likely to be more expensive and secondly, checking also being a routine task could suffer from the same issues of wavering attention while doing it, leading to ordinary results.
Depending on the differences in the keystrokes entered by the two people, the data entered could be dealt with in one of the following ways:
- Passed without further interference
- Rejected and asked to be input once again
- Differences verified by a third person, resolved and passed
oWorkers has been doing data entry for clients for over seven years. We use many different techniques for ensuring accuracy of the data that has been entrusted to us for entry, double key entry being one of them. It is the result of process and client need and our experience.
9. Outsource to a specialist
When the volume of an activity rises in a free market, more providers emerge and specialization in roles and functions gets seeded. Date entry is no different. Even though automation is a constant endeavour, new tasks and functions emerge that have a need for data entry. Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, is a new technology that may not have existed a couple of decades back. It has a need for a lot of data entry to be done to build a robust model on which it is going to operate.
BPOs have emerged as specialists in the task of data entry that take on the responsibility over from clients. They have the ability to hire and train resources specifically for data entry which their clients might not have, engaged as they in their core business, be it extracting crude from oilfields, laying undersea cables for telecommunications or flying passengers in aeroplanes. With aggregated volumes across clients, BPOs also develop the heft to invest in technology as well as process improvement techniques to bring about efficiencies. Hence, entrusting the task to a specialist goes a long way in ensuring data entry accuracy.
oWorkers has supported over a hundred clients, and executed many data entry projects for them. Our clients claim savings of almost 80% when they outsource to us, without any loss of quality. We are GDPR compliant and ISO certified. With facilities in three of the most sought-after BPO destinations, we are able to provide support in over 22 languages most commonly used around the world. We count many technology companies as well as unicorn marketplaces amongst our clients. Your business also enables us to create employment opportunities in the communities we work with and issue a ticket to youngsters to enter the gig economy.