Significant advantage of Medical Billing Data Entry Services

Significant advantage of Medical Billing Data Entry Services

Significant advantage of Medical Billing Data Entry Services

Businesses and organizations could be excused for not estimating the full implication of running a business or organization when they set out to create one. Someone with a vision for starting a scooter rental service could hardly be expected to know about the challenges in hiring people for various roles. Someone else interested in starting a medical center may not know about the financial compliances enjoined upon the business to fulfil every quarter and every year.

While these cannot be excuses, and a business and organization person should make the effort to know everything, the point being made is that the focus and interest is likely to be on the area of work, the scooter service or medical center in this example.

Thankfully, help is at hand. There are a wide variety of providers

What could be the benefits of engaging a provider for medical billing data entry?

 

Focus on the patient

When you opted for a career in healthcare, it was probably with the objective of working with patients and helping them get better, whether you are a doctor or a nurse or a clinical technician. The objective would not have been to fill forms, bank checks, track unpaid bills and maintain records. Of course, we understand that every job and every industry has an administrative component, but that should not be the one driving our lives. It should be a relatively minor component of our professional lives.

Outsourcing medical billing data entry services enables you to do just that; focus on the people who seek medical care and support from you.

oWorkers has been providing BPO services to global clients for over eight years. In their chosen area of focus, data based services, they have been repeatedly identified as one of the top three providers in the world. Engaging them as a partner will give you the space to focus on your core constituency, the patient seeking medical attention and care.

 

Medical billing data entry leads to a reduction in errors

This can also be expressed as an enhancement in accuracy.

Errors entail a cost for every business. There is a cost of lost business. There is a cost of checking and control, There is a cost of rework. In healthcare, that cost can be magnified, as it deals with the health and well-being of human beings. Incorrect information could lead to wrong diagnosis and treatment, with the worst outcomes being the impact on a human being.

While healthcare might wish for less, the very sensitivity of the industry engenders the need for greater control, which creates the need for more forms and keeping track of more information.

Engaging a professional organisation for doing this work can go a long way in reducing errors that lead to disastrous outcomes in the form of human impact.

oWorkers employs a full-time Internal Quality team. This is made up of Quality Analysts (QAs) whose job is to track the work being done by the delivery organization and ensure errors are not creeping in. They are also constantly exploring methods of improving processes so that accuracy can be enhanced and time taken reduced. They report directly to the senior management. This keeps the leadership informed about shopfloor happenings, allowing them to jump in as and when they see the need.

 

Better systems, applications and processes for medical billing data entry

Data entry not being a core activity for a healthcare organization, the interest in investing in it with the purpose of improving the systems and processes is limited. It is something that somehow needs to get done. They would rather work on improving the medical systems which will enable better care and support to the seekers of medical services. And that makes perfect sense, does it not? That is why they are there. That is the reason for their existence.

However, what happens is that the support systems fail to keep pace with the advances that take place in other parts of the core organization. In fact, they could often become the stumbling blocks, the reason why the organization cannot do more or cannot do better. Hence, whether we like it or not, at some stage they start crying for attention.

Engagement of a specialist can prevent this issue and ensure that the support systems keep pace, and sometimes lead, the rest of the organization. This is because the partner has an interest in doing the job more efficiently. Moreover, if they do similar work for multiple organizations, the combined heft in terms of volumes enables a much more justifiable case to be made for investments in improvement.

The partnerships oWorkers has forged across a spectrum of technology providers enables us to access the best technologies for solving client problems at all times. Many of our clients are IT firms who also ensure that we are current as far as technologies are concerned.

 

Cash Flow management

Money is the proverbial blood that courses through the veins of an organization. It is the common denominator in which all its activities can be expressed. It is what they earn when their services are taken up by their clients and it is what they spend when they need to procure the supplies and pay for services that keeps their ship afloat. And this is not just about commercial organizations. Non-commercial organizations, and some hospitals may be run by nonprofits, need to manage money as well. Their sources of getting money may not be client billings, but there will be a source. It could be government funding or it could be private donations. They still need that money because they need to pay salaries and buy the supplies for providing their services.

A professional partner doing medical billing data entry keeps the wheels turning. Bills go out faster, payments can be tracked and received faster, while reducing the ones that get forgotten or lost. They may even have the knowhow to introduce processes that result in additional revenue-generation strategies like combination offers, which may be useful for patients as well.

oWorkers has enabled many clients to save money. Clients from the US and Western Europe report savings of upto 80% after outsourcing to oWorkers. This does not include the financial discipline that comes about resulting in quicker billing and realisation.

 

Compliance with regulatory requirements and industry practices

In a dynamic world a lot keeps changing. Regulations can change, as can industry standards and practices. Non-compliance of regulatory stipulations could have implications, mostly financial. Support services not being anyone’s favorite child, could translate into an inability to keep pace with changes taking place, which could lead to financial implications.

Outsourcing to a specialist can secure you against such eventualities. A specialist’s interest lies in tracking regulation and practice and ensuring compliance. They are aided in the exercise by the fact that they could be doing the same work for a number of clients. Hence, the cost of a miss in their case will be steep.

With the support of the communities we work with, oWorkers is able to source and hire people with not only data entry skills, but also skills and capability in supporting clients with their accounting, finance and HR requirements.

 

Hidden costs get exposed, budgeting becomes accurate

Support functions, as they are often not tracked as stringently by management, have a tendency to hide costs and inefficiencies in their dark recesses. Handing them over to a vendor serves the purpose of airing them out and hanging them to dry in bright sunlight. All dampness gets sucked out and a bright light shines on every part of the process. Endemic inefficiencies of the system now have no place to hide. Once outsourced, inefficiencies, if any, would be handled by the vendor, whose business interest lies in doing the work most efficiently.

All organizations operate on the principles of budgeting whereby a financial projection is made for the accounting period and the actual performance, as it happens, mapped against it. Outsourcing medical billing data entry will serve to make the budgetary process more accurate by making the costs associated with it transparent and defined, apart from ironing out earlier inefficiencies.

The outsourcing organization will get this benefit when they outsource to oWorkers.

 

People Management

One of the greatest challenges in running an organization is managing people. People are intelligent. They think. They have feelings and emotions. They have different styles of working. They have good and bad days and periods. They have expectations. All the traits that make human beings the most intelligent species on the planet also make them a challenge to manage. Much organizational time and energy is consumed in managing people related issues and setting policy for them. Manual processing organizations, as the term indicates, rely on people for their work, and could have lots of employees. As would the processing sections in a healthcare organization.

Outsourcing the data entry manual processing section shifts the manpower management responsibility to the vendor. The client no longer has to worry about getting the work done if someone goes absent, or hiring in a hurry if someone leaves. These are cares that will be handled by the vendor who, incidentally, has much greater expertise and experience in doing so, as it presumably does the same for other clients whose projects are also staffed by resources that are similar in background.

Being a preferred employer gives oWorkers the benefit of a continuous flow of walk-in candidates interested in a job. This keeps our hiring costs low as we don’t need to advertise for hiring. Moreover, in an industry notorious for attrition, it enables us to hire replacements in a short time. We engage employees the traditional way, as employees, and not as freelancers or contractors as some of our competitors now do. It enjoins greater responsibility on us, of paying social taxes on their behalf, of managing their careers and growth, but we are happy to do that for our staff

 

Scalability

All businesses and organizations face uncertainty in demand and supply against projections. While at times one may need to keep ide; resources at hand to cater to sudden spikes in demand, it is never a preferred option. The organization would rather create additional capacity at short notice and cater to sudden spikes.

Outsourcing data entry can relieve the client of the pressure of at least one type of resource if demand rises suddenly. This can be built into the arrangement with the provider. A provider, with the benefit of multiple projects of a similar nature running simultaneously, can possibly align resources for a short period such that the peak is catered without a significant impact on others. Of course, with larger combined volumes, they can also keep hiring arrangements in place that enable them to hire at short notice and for short periods.

oWorkers provides the leverage to be able to hire for peaks and troughs. It can hire an extra one hundred people within 48 hours, if required, reducing the burden on the client to carry staffing at peak volume levels through the year.

 

Timeliness of work

Though speed depends on the nature of work, the speed of work in a support system in a healthcare environment might not always be a priority. Priority is likely to be reserved for healthcare related work, and even more preferentially, work with patients. 

Though it depends on the nature of work, BPO providers doing data entry provide great flexibility to clients. Some might come at an additional cost, though. They can provide overnight turnaround for clients on the other side of the globe. They can run an operation 24×7 if the work so demands. They can even operate from the premises of the client, if that is a critical requirement. All in all, they are willing to go the extra mile to make it work for the organization.

In all its three centers around the world, oWorkers has the capability of running 24×7 operations for clients who need it and are willing to pay for it

 

Multi Lingual capability

The world is shrinking and businesses are becoming global. Businesses operate across countries, time zones and languages. The support engine of a business needs to be able to cater to a variety of languages in order to cover its geographical spread. The organization should not need to look for yet another vendor for each language.

When you outsource medical billing data entry to oWorkers, you get a provider with proficiency in 22 languages commonly spoken around the world, across the three delivery centers it operates from. Whether you are a local business or a global behemoth, oWorkers has the solutions for you.

How to Create a Data Entry Form in Excel

How to Create a Data Entry Form in Excel

How to Create a Data Entry Form in Excel

MS Excel might be one of the most used software applications since the computing age began. Some might even say abused, considering that it has been put to many ‘unnatural’ applications, word processing to name one. 

It may not have been the first software application to present spreadsheets and workbooks full of cells to users, with many magical possibilities, but it certainly has been, overwhelmingly, the most popular and widely used one. To some extent, it also benefited from the explosion in computing devices based on the Microsoft Windows operating systems.

A simple definition of MS Excel is provided by reference.com: “Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application designed to perform basic and complex mathematical computations and functions. In addition to performing arithmetic operations, Excel allows users to create graphical displays of data, forms and pivot tables. It is also routinely used to sort information and assist users in identifying data trends.”

Not just numbers, MS Excel can perform logical functions on textual data as well. It can identify the third character in a text string. It can also remove the first three characters in a text string and put the cut portion and the remainder from the original in two separate cells. But we are getting carried away. Excel does not need any support. It is well known and liked and used around the world.

oWorkers is a BPO that focuses on data related services, including data entry. Our employees have the skill to perform data entry for clients across various applications. We have been counted amongst the top three data based BPO companies in the world on more than one occasion.

 

Excel Data Entry

For the rich features of Excel to come into play, date is needed on which they can operate. Data can either be created through the process of data entry or it can be uploaded into Excel from some other compatible formats. In case of an upload, the date would possibly have been entered into the other application from which it is now being uploaded into Excel. So, a fundamental process is that of data entry to create data.

In our daily usage of Excel, most of us, while doing manual entry, do so directly into the target cells of the spreadsheet. Of course, for best results, we know that the contents need to be arranged neatly in some sort of order, as rows and columns.

Once data has been created in rows and columns, it becomes a database. The most common organization of data is for each row to represent a record with different pieces of information pertaining to that record while a column will contain values for one of the pieces of information across the different records. Thus, a row could have the name of a student in the first column, and their scores in different subjects in column two onwards. Column two will contain scores in one particular subject for all students.

This arrangement resembles a database. 

One of the main differences between a database application, such as MS Access, and Excel is that a database application processes information record by record, or row by row if we compare it with Excel, while Excel is not limited to processing information row by row and can accommodate functions across any row or column. While this makes it a much more flexible and powerful application, it limits the amount of data it can handle as reaching out across rows and columns requires a huge amount of memory. A database application can handle virtually any amount of data as it processes one row at a time. 

This brings us to one of the other differences between a database application and an Excel sheet. In a database application, the information in the database is hidden from the user. It is not something a user can directly access and tamper with. In an Excel sheet, on the other hand, the entire spreadsheet stretches out in front of the user, warts and all. The user can go to, touch, see, amend, delete, any part of the data in any of the fields. 

While this makes Excel very easy to operate and visualize, it also makes Excel more vulnerable to errors and unintended changes and careless mistakes. The database application, on the other hand, since the database is not accessible, is safe from such issues. The user provides the inputs through a data entry form that acts like a portal to the database. It is done one record at a time. You don’t suddenly decide to update Literature marks for Susan and then jump to History marks for James before you come back to Math for Susan.

How do we secure the information in an Excel spreadsheet?

Database applications give us a good model. How about replicating a similar process for the Excel workbook the data in which we are trying to secure?

But is that possible?

In fact it is. Excel data entry can be done through a similar ‘arms-length’ relationship between the data entry and the database. It allows us to create a form for data entry so that the user is not directly interacting with the database, in this case the spreadsheet, when data entry is being done. Most Excel users being ‘light’ users may not need this separation. But where the database is large or where it is used for some critical functions, it would become important to protect its integrity.

So, how does one do it?

By creating a data entry form that will make the process faster and less prone to errors. 

With its close connections in the local communities, oWorkers is able to hire people with relevant skills for various jobs. Owing to our walk-in volume of jobseekers, we are also in a position to cater to peaks and troughs, by as much as 100 people in 48 hours. This gives a significant cost advantage to our clients as they don’t need to retain staff at peak levels.

 

Excel data entry form

Continuing with the example shared earlier, this is what our database might look like:

Student

Math

History

Science

Literature

John

75

76

77

78

Lilian

78

65

86

69

Tomothy

47

50

78

53

Harold

78

64

54

49

Susan

90

45

60

89

     

 

The teacher needs to enter the marks for another student, Leslie. The commonly followed process is that she would directly go into the database and add information for that student. This process, as we have seen, carries risks. To eliminate, or reduce, the risk, we can protect the database from being accessed by her and instead give her a data entry form to achieve the same objective.

The form might look like this:

Student

Marks

Math

Marks

History

Marks

Science

Marks

Literature

Marks

 

After entering the information, the teacher clicks on ‘Add record’ and it will get added to the database, presenting the blank form yet again to the teacher, as above, where she can add information for another student. 

While this should be the preferred way of entering information, it requires some effort in setting up. It is not something that will present itself as the natural option when you open an Excel workbook. You will first need to add it to the Quick Access toolbar.

Adding ‘Data Entry Form’ to the Quick Access toolbar

  1. Right click any of the icons currently in the Quick Access toolbar.
  2. Click on ‘Customize Quick Access Toolbar.’ In some versions, you will need to click on ‘Customize Ribbon’ with the Quick Access Toolbar option available at the next step.
  3. Choose the ‘All Commands’ option from the menu in the dialog box that opens up.
  4. Choose ‘Form’ from the list that now presents itself in the dialog box.
  5. Between the ‘Add’ and ‘Delete’ buttons that now appear, choose ‘Add’ since we want to add an Excel data entry form followed by ‘OK.’

Following the above steps should result in the ‘Form’ icon being added to your Quick Access Toolbar.

Creating the Data Entry Form for your spreadsheet:

After the Form icon has been added, you can click on any cell in your database (where you want to make entries through the new form), followed by the Form icon.

Caution: The data in your spreadsheet should be organized as an Excel Table. Convert it to a Table by clicking the ‘Format as Table’ icon or keyboard shortcut ‘Control + T.’

Understanding the new Data Entry Form

Here is a quick explanation of the new form that you have for excel data entry:

New – Clears form data and presents a blank form ready for you to enter data into

Delete – Deletes the record that has been pulled up on screen

Restore – If you have not clicked either ‘New’ or ‘Enter’ pressing this button will restore the information earlier in the form

Find Prev – Find the previous record

Find Next – Finds the next record

Criteria – It is like a search option that allows you to pull out records meeting defined criteria

Close – Closes the form

Scroll Bar – Use it for going through the database, record by record. 

oWorkers keeps abreast of the latest technologies with the help of its partnerships with various technology companies. Many of our clients are IT companies, including several unicorn marketplaces. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certified.

 

Simple Steps for Common Functions in an Excel Data Entry Form

Creating a new record

  1. After selecting any cell in the Excel Table, click the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. The form will open up.
  3. Enter data in the form fields.
  4. Hit the Enter key (or click the New button) to enter the record in the table.
  5. The table fields become blank, ready for the next

Going through the existing database

Pulling up one record at a time can be an easy way of navigating and editing the database, especially if there are a lot of columns requiring scrolling left and right. Here is how you can do it:

  1. Select any cell in the Excel Table followed by a click on the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. The Form will open up.
  3. Use the ‘Find Next’ and ‘Find Prev’ buttons to go to the next or previous entry.
  4. To edit, simply make the change in the data and hit enter. 

To revert to the original entry (if you haven’t pressed ‘Enter’ yet), click the ‘Restore’ button. You can also use the scroll bar to navigate through entries one-by-one.

Criteria based navigation

This feature is useful when the database is large and one needs to look at records of a specific type. This could be considered somewhat equivalent to the Filter function. Steps to follow for a search to identify students with more than 80 marks in History:

  1. Select cell in the Excel table, followed by clicking the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. In the Data Entry Form dialog box, click the Criteria button.
  3. In the History field, enter ‘>80’. 
  4. Use the Find Prev/ Find Next buttons to navigate through the entries where the History marks are more than 80.

You can even enter values in more than one field to lock in faster on the desired records, if that is the requirement.

For example, if you want to check out students who have scored more than 80 in all subjects, you need to enter ‘>80’ in all the Subject fields. 

Deleting a Record

Deleting is a simple process:

  1. Select any cell in the Excel table and click the Form icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Bring up the record you want to delete through scrolling or criteria based search
  3. Click the Delete button.

The leadership team of oWorkers comes with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry. They guide and lead the project teams in delivery, supported by a team of quality analysts who report directly to the management. They are able to ensure the right quality is being delivered before the client gets a chance to find it out. 

 

Creating data validation rules to ensure database integrity

Excel data entry done manually might be the only solution in many cases but it also presents the greatest opportunity for errors. Errors made in a large database can be difficult to detect and compromise the sanctity of the entire database. As far as possible, errors should be eliminated at the point of entry into the database.

Forms give us the opportunity of creating validation rules that can be checked by the system which will eliminate certain types of errors.

If, for example, you have a field where you record a date, you can create a validation that will check for the entry being a date or not. Of course, we need to understand that it will not be able to check whether the date you have entered is correct or not.

How can you do this?

  1. Select the cells (or even the entire column) where you want to create a data validation rule.
  2. Click the Data tab, followed by the Data Validation option.
  3. In the dialog box, within the ‘Settings’ tab, select ‘Date’ from the ‘Allow’ drop down. Various other types of validations are possible, like checking for decimals, text length, etc..
  4. Specify the start and the end date. Entries within this date range would be valid and rest all would be denied. If the objective is to merely check that the entry is in a date format, you can keep the start and end dates wide enough to allow for all dates.
  5. Click OK.

After creating the validation, you will get an error message if you try to enter an incorrect date through the data entry form.

 

The oWorkers Advantage

Our clients consistently report savings of 80% when compared with their pre-outsourcing costs, whether it is Excel data entry or any other service. With our capability of serving in 22 languages and our three global centers operating 24×7, oWorkers offers a compelling proposition for outsourcing any data or back-office related service.

How much do you need to pay for data entry?

How much do you need to pay for data entry?

How much do you need to pay for data entry?

 

Data entry is everywhere. It is being asked for and offered on platforms that bring freelancers and clients together. BPO providers like oWorkers offer data entry services and are always on the lookout for suitable clients. Unbeknownst to the formal data entry services being sought and offered, there is a lot of informal data entry work happening around us all the time. Yes, almost counter intuitively. While we will expect the volume of manual data entry work to reduce in a digitized society, would we not, data entry services are being sought and offered in volumes never before witnessed.

Contrary to its placement in the lower part of the organization’s food-chain, data entry is a task on which the success of many other parts of the organization is built. The principle of GIGO, Garbage In Garbage Out, is well understood by people in business. If the input is bad, you cannot expect a good outcome. Data entry, hence, assumes great importance. Also, it takes myriad shapes and forms. Almost anything can be data entry. Working with patient admission records could be data entry just as working with insurance claims or climate data might be. Keying information on invoices received from suppliers could be data entry just as digitization of municipal birth records might be. Transcribing handwritten prescriptions of medical doctors might be data entry, just as keying in information on name cards received at a business event into the company’s sales database might be.

So, anything could be data entry.

Data entry is the process of converting information that is available ‘offline,’ or on ‘manual’ media like paper, into digitized formats. The objectives are several. It will help in safekeeping of information. Manual records, especially paper, on which most information has been maintained, is subject to spoilage, deterioration and tearing. Digitizing the information is expected to increase its life to, maybe forever. It is expected to save storage space. Entire shelves of books and files can be stored on a digital drive as small as your thumbnail. Thirdly, it is expected to facilitate the process of adding to our knowledge by yielding its store of secrets. This is through analysis of the data and slicing and dicing it with the help of suitable applications. Maybe even juxtaposing it with other pieces of information to compare. So far, extraction of information was slow, hence either not done or limited to the specific requirement. With manual extraction no longer being required, it will lend itself more easily to analysis and data extraction.

One of the questions that many people seek an answer to is, “How much do we need to pay for data entry?” This is from the perspective of a client who seeks a provider to do data entry work. If you flip the picture, there is a related question that is also asked, “How much does data entry pay?” This, as one can imagine is from the perspective of the person providing the service or doing the data entry work.

 

How to price a service

Before we get to data entry pay, from either side of the equation, we will make an effort to understand pricing strategies for services as a whole.

As a starting point, pricing is a key business decision. And, for a small business, all decisions are key decisions. Pricing decisions need to be taken to enable the business to succeed, eventually making a profit by delivering services that customers are willing to pay for and buy. That is true for the business taking on data entry work from clients and true for the individual operator who either takes on work directly from clients or agrees to be hired by a data entry business who in turn takes on clients.

The good and bad part of pricing is that there is no definitive formula that helps you arrive at a point. Your understanding of the environment surrounding the business, a sort of a gut feel, is perhaps as important as some of the variables that should be considered. There is no doubt subjectivity that is involved in the decision.

Moreover, you also go through what might be called a ‘price discovery’ phase, especially in case of a new service. You don’t want to charge a price that keeps customers away, but you also don’t want to charge a price where you are leaving money on the table. The price discovery phase leads to the gap between the two, the customer’s willingness to pay and your desire to charge, reducing.

These are some standard ways to arrive at the pricing of a service:

Cost Plus

In this method, you need to total up the costs that you incur in delivering a service and base the price on that. While the method does not provide an answer to what the price should be, it puts information in the hands of the decision-maker. The decision-maker can take other inputs into consideration, like is theirs a new business or an established one. A new business might want to price low to attract clientele. On the other hand, a new business might want to price themselves high in order to create a ‘premium’ positioning.

While simple to understand, as you go deeper you have to answer questions like, “should we only recover the direct cost or the indirect cost as well?” Again, the answer depends on the entire set of variables being considered by the decision-maker.

oWorkers is able to keep its operating costs low, which is shared with clients through the pricing. For resource hiring, a significant cost for BPOs, oWorkers benefits from the deep connects it has in their local communities. This makes oWorkers a preferred employer which leads to a constant flow of walk-in applicants desirous of jobs. This helps us keep our cost to attract candidates low, and also gives us the flexibility to hire for handling short-term peaks and troughs of clients, otherwise a significant cost if they have to carry idle resources for the rest of the year.

Pricing of competitors

As the name suggests, for commoditized services, such as data entry, one could take the price being charged by competitors as a benchmark and price their service around it, based on their evaluation of the customers’ perception of the value being provided to them by the two services. Competing on price with competitors is to be guarded against as it could snowball out of control and lead to a downward spiral in the fortunes of all incumbents.

In our chosen area of data-oriented projects, that includes data entry, oWorkers stands apart. We have been recognized as one of the three best providers in the world on more than one occasion.

Value perception

What does the customer think of your service? And there is no easy way to do this. Many companies run surveys where they ask customers to rank and rate them against competitor products or services. If such surveys have provided definitive answers it would be difficult to know since they have not taken over the world. Eventually even surveys will provide information, not answers.

oWorkers influences its clients’ businesses in many ways with their experience and capability. We are able to offer services in more than 22 languages across our three centers in three different geographies. Our centers are equipped to operate 24×7 to fulfil client needs.

We need to remember that our business will not become successful simply by our deciding on the price point. There is a customer on the other side of the equation who has to take a similar decision; how much should we pay for a particular service? They will perhaps have similar considerations and criteria when they evaluate your quotation; how much do competitors charge? At this price point will it add value to our business? Is this service better or worse than competitors in terms of quality? Data entry pay will be influenced by all of them.

A related decision is on the charging mechanism of the price. Should it be based on:

Per unit of time? – Say $5 per hour or $1000 per month. The resource will be committed to the work of the client for the committed or required duration. Might be suitable when a specialist’s time is the critical resource.

Per unit of output? – Say $20 per consultation (for a medical doctor). There will be some specifications around what the client could expect from that output unit.

Per project? – This is similar to the ‘per unit of output’ model. In this case, the output unit is larger, the entire project.

Retainership? – Lawyers and consultants often operate on the basis of a retainer fee. This is a model used in knowledge and expertise-based engagements like lawyers and management consultants. 

oWorkers offers transparent pricing to its customers and offers a choice between rate per unit of time and rate per unit of output. Many of our customers have reported savings of upto 80% after outsourcing data entry work to us.

 

How much does data entry pay?

While ‘it pays as much as you can get it to pay’ may be a correct response, it does not make the seeker any wiser.

At the same time, since data entry is a global activity, it cannot be funnelled down into a single response that is applicable universally. Both clients and providers can come from any part of the world. Would we pay the same to a data entry operator working from Plovdiv in Bulgaria as we would to another operator doing the same work in Hyderabad, India? Would we pay the same to transcribe the recording of a video conference as we would to enter the names, addresses and phone numbers on name cards collected at a business conference; both done by the same person?

Maybe we will. Maybe we won’t. Probably we don’t have enough information to be able to take a clear decision on how much it pays. What we will do is lay down some of the considerations that should be borne in mind when a recruiter (organization) decides on a specific data entry pay scale. These considerations will also be valid to a large extent on the flip side because a person seeking the role will also evaluate suitability for herself. Like any other financial consideration, each party wants the best for the lowest cost.

For the most part, when a person switches her job, the most common method of the new organization to fix her salary is by using the existing salary as a benchmark and then adjusting it for relevant variables. For a new role, an effort can be made to divine salaries for similar roles in other companies. Salary benchmarking is a common practice even for existing roles in an organization. Over and above this basic consideration, adjustments will likely be made for the following:

Educational qualifications

While it is usually used for determining suitability, whether a person qualifies to be considered for the role or not, educational qualifications can also be used to adjust salary levels, on the assumption that a better qualified person will deliver better results. For data entry pay as well, educational qualifications could have a bearing.

Prior experience

This is relevant in case of jobs where the impact of an individual expands with the experience she gains. Even for roles where additional experience does not necessarily translate into better performance, some companies may choose to give credit for it through higher pay.

Nature/ complexity of work

This is perhaps the most relevant part of the decision; the nature and complexity of work. The greater the complexity, the required educational qualifications and experience will slide up automatically in many cases. The greater the complexity of work, suitable resources are also expected to be difficult to find. Hence, even the demand-supply equation will push up salaries for complex work. The flip side could be that people qualified to do complex, specialized jobs may need to compete for only a few of them at any point in time.

Availability of resources

This is the traditional demand-supply equation of economics. Greater demand pushes up prices while greater supply depresses them.

Competition

This could be seen as a corollary of resource availability, though not in isolation. Many competitors could be offering a similar service. That might suggest a struggle for resources that could uplift prices. However, it is also possible that the competition is for a low-skill role for which there is adequate availability of resources.

Gepgraphy

Cost of living varies from place to place and influences salary levels. Data entry pay offered in New York is likely to be higher than what is offered for the same work in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Very often these differences are also used as inputs to determine the location of a certain facility.

Labor laws

Most geographies have labor laws that define the basic salaries levels that need to be paid to employees in certain categories of jobs. However, that being applicable to all competitors is more a matter of adherence than decision-making.

 

oWorkers for data entry

oWorkers operates from secure facilities. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified. Our management team comes with over 20 years of hands-on experience and are directly involved in all our projects.

Many large technology companies, including unicorn marketplaces have chosen oWorkers as their partner. They trust us to handle data entry pay and other aspects related to delivery of the service. We hope you will, too.

4 Ways To Automate Data Entry Processes

4 Ways To Automate Data Entry Processes

4 Ways To Automate Data Entry Processes

It is a strange conundrum that data entry, a process that seeks to digitize information in a manner that it could henceforth be accessed with ease, digitally, should be a manual system. We have not been able to devise a method through which the end goal of digitization and automation can be met by automation at the first step itself.

Then again, maybe it is not so strange. The reason for the existence of data entry in the human world, as an activity for which money gets exchanged for one side to do, and the other side to get done, data entry and related work, is perhaps that better ways do not exist. If there were better ways, human beings would be deploying them.

As all things manual, manual data entry has limitations. Data entry automation is an ongoing effort on part of humans to find more efficient and less error-prone processes for data entry.

Benefits of data entry automation

Automation is a journey. It is a change of status quo. An effort at automation means that currently that particular process is not automated. There is an intent of automating the process, partially or fully, in an effort that some value is released for the business that seeks to automate.

Data entry is no different. If there are ongoing efforts to achieve automation, it means that there is some value that will be released if it were to be achieved. It means that there could be limitations with the way it is being handled at present and that if the same were to be changed it could result in some benefits.

As a leading provider of data services, oWorkers works with partners on varying processes and tools for data entry, creating new knowledge and processes that will benefit everyone involved. We have been identified as one of the top three data service BPO companies in the world on more than one occasion.

Let us make an effort to understand the benefits of automating the data entry process.

Reduction in errors

For human beings every action is deliberate. It is a result of a force that motivates us to do something while being guided by our thoughts, emotions, moods and all the other elements that constitute a human being.

As a result of the complexity of their being, they will come across as different creatures from time to time. Motivated and alert at some times, sullen and lethargic at others. Happy and involved at some times, sad and aloof at others. As a result, their performance also varies. Human beings are prone to making errors. They are not machines who, given a constant input, will always produce the same output. Leo Messi might shine in one game of football but be totally off color in the next. A call center executive might wow a customer on one call but manage to completely put off the caller in the next one.

Recognizing this aspect, organizations built checks and balances to ensure that errors are caught and corrected. They have various methods of doing so, the most common ones being to either get two different people to do the same work and pass it if it is identical and catch it if not, or to have a quality checking system that does either a full audit of the data entry or based on samples. Both these methods entail cost of the organization.

Data entry automation is expected to result in a reduction of the errors being made in human data entry. Not just reduction, but elimination of errors in the parts that can be handled through automation.

Many of our clients from the US and Western Europe testify to the quality they receive from oWorkers, which is at least as good as their pre-outsourcing quality, while enabling them to shave almost 80% off the processing cost.

Quicker processing

Human beings will work at human speed. Sequentially. If a good typist can type fifty words in a minute, most human typists will be typing at similar rates, with some exceptional ones going to maybe sixty and a few poor performers struggling at around forty, with all others in between. This is the rate at which they are able to type, regardless of the situation and requirement. Attempts to type faster could result in a greater number of errors. If the volume of work goes high, more typists will need to be engaged to finish it in a given time or the work will take longer to finish compared to a smaller volume of work. Human beings also need time for rest and rejuvenation and sleep. All these activities reduce the time available to do productive work.

Machines, or computer programs, have no such constraints. They can work day and night. Their ability to type is much faster than humans. The constraint they face is that they are not as smart as humans. However, if the data entry can be done based on defined rules and the software can be programmed on how to do it, a much greater volume can be processed in a much shorter period of time.

Our leadership team, with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, are constantly pushing all project teams to deliver optimum outputs.

Employee can move up the value chain

Being the thinking, sensing beings that they are, human beings have a preference for activities that provide a challenge, mentally or physically. Data entry often provides neither. That is why many types of data entry jobs are considered as monotonous, dull and repetitive and are often placed closer to the bottom end of the organizational hierarchy. Doing them day in and day out is a source of mental fatigue and burnout for humans. It could also be the cause of various other conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain and neck-related issues. This, in turn, becomes a cause for further errors.

Data entry automation can deliver human beings from the drudgery of certain types of data entry work and enable them to move up the value chain where they can be more mentally challenged by the work they need to do. With the plain data entry work done by machines, humans can start essaying roles that require thought and some amount of decision-making.

With a model of employment, as opposed to freelancing and contracting adopted by some competitors, oWorkers is constantly exploring avenues for enriching the jobs of our colleagues.

Lower costs and greater value

Development of automation is an investment. It takes time and money. Often, during a research and development cycle, it is not certain how long it will take for the investment being made to be recovered. Or, indeed, if it will be recovered at all.

However, once developed, it will take a much lower cost to run as compared to a human, who needs to be paid all the time so that he can be fit for the job that he needs to do. Thus, each day or hour that automated data entry is done, it will be saving money as compared to the manpower-driven model. Further, by accumulating these savings over a period of time, a point will come when it will exceed the amount of money spent in building the solution. That would be the day when payback would have been achieved.

oWorkers understands the need for manual data entry and supports many clients in the same. As a preferred employer in the communities we work with, oWorkers attracts a constant flow of talent interested in working for us. This enables us to hire throughout the year while keeping our costs low. The benefits of low cost are shared with our clients. For all manual data entry requirements, oWorkers is a great cost-effective option.

Data entry automation

Now that we understand that there are benefits that will result if we are able to automate the process, let us explore how it could be done.

Make no mistake; this is not a low hanging fruit. The low hanging fruits are gone. Data entry is a mature industry. Any advancement today has to be based on deep thought, intelligent effort, and investment of resources and money.

There are some emerging technologies that hold promise of revolutionizing data entry processes.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR is the process of digitally converting information in a format that is not machine readable, such as a typed, printed or handwritten document, and transferring it to a format that can be understood by machines. This is the objective of most manual data entry too. This technology has been in use since the nineties and has developed over time to become more accurate.

An early popular use of OCR technology was in banking where clearing cheques, which already had the bank’s sort code pre-printed on them, with amounts encoded by the presenting bank, would be sorted by the reader-sorter device of the clearing house and debits and credits between banks resolved, instead of manually sorting each cheque and adding up values. However, that early use was based on the characters to be read being formed and placed in a defined manner. Data entry requires characters in any shape and form, placed anyhow, to be read and understood, which is where the focus is now.

OCR has played a big role in digitizing historical information, like old newspapers, into formats that can be easily stored, searched and accessed.

With its high standards of data and information security, compliance with GDPR regulations and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certification, we work with leading as well as developing technologies such as OCR on behalf of our clients.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

The discipline of NLP operates at the intersection of linguistics, computer science and artificial intelligence. Human beings are a part of the mix as well, since it is their language that is being deciphered and decoded. The objective of NLP is to understand and make sense of the human language, usually the spoken word or words. Once that is achieved, other, related objectives could emerge, talking back to humans being one of them. Many of us have experienced Alexa and Siri. Their responses to our verbal inputs are the result of NLP engines working in the background. NLP is expected to be one of the stepping stones to data entry automation.

What makes this challenging is the complexity of human beings and their language. While it is reasonably easy for humans to learn and master a language, it is not the same for a computer. There are nuances that are complex. “Really!” could be an enthusiastic confirmation of a person’s query, “Did Usain Bolt really run the 100 meter sprint in 9.58 seconds” or it could be a sarcastic “Really?” in response to the person saying “I ran the 100 meter sprint in 9.58 seconds today.”

With services in 22 languages across our three main sites, language processing has been an area of strength as well as interest for oWorkers. We are taking it to the next level with participation in NLP projects with clients and technology providers.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA is a form of automation through which I machine, a software program really, learns to mimic human actions and is able to carry them out in future transactions of a similar nature. Left to themselves, these ‘bots’ are able to perform the assigned tasks much faster and with greater accuracy. From the data entry perspective, a human being might be able to read a few words on a page at a time and transfer them to a digital medium, in a few seconds. An RPA ‘bot’ on the other hand, might do it one character at a time, but it will be done in a flash so that it would have finished several pages before the human finished with the first set of words. And flawlessly, based on the instructions it had been given. The human, despite instructions, could make mistakes.

The human will only have an advantage where the input content deviates from the defined rule and some thinking is required. Here the ‘bot’ will fall short and either make a mistake or wait for guidance from its human master. Thankfully!

oWorkers has worked out flexible tie-ups with technology companies that allows us to access their cutting-edge technologies to be deployed for client work. Through our network of IT partners, we access the latest technologies like RPA.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) for data entry automation

AI is the buzzword in technology. At least one of the buzzwords.

AI is the name given to a technology that seeks to enable a machine or a software program embedded in the machine, behave like a human and handle inputs accordingly. Formatted text has been intelligible to machines for a long time, as long as software programs have been in existence, as this was the method programs were created that allowed computers to process. However, unformatted text, and other formats in which information exists, like unformatted text, a doctor’s handwritten prescription for example, or images, or audio, or video, has been beyond the scope of machines.

With the help of AI, and its sister discipline Machine Learning (ML), machines are learning to understand and process unformatted information as well. Not only that, once the initial training has been done, many algorithms even permit the program to keep learning from the additional information that they keep receiving once they have been ‘deployed’ and keep adjusting their output accordingly.

oWorkers has been actively engaged with clients as they have built their AI models. Data annotation, tagging and labelling are areas where we have worked with a wide set of clients from around the world.

Conclusion

While the new technologies make headway in data entry automation, there are some steps that we can take even today that will facilitate the process. These will probably be useful even when we deploy one of the evolving technologies.  These can be achieved through a simple ‘eyeballing’ of the information which does not take time. Once input incorrectly, it will take a lot more effort and time and money to retrace steps and redo. These are:

Standardize the process – this will create consistency in form filling and manual operators will know what to expect

Ensure data consistency – Already filled information, if eyeballed, can reveal inconsistencies, if they exist, at a glance, and save much rework later

Periodic review to eliminate redundancy – To ensure redundant information is not being taken, like DOB as well as Age, and removing fields no longer relevant

Create logical checks in input forms – Checking for DOB format or no. of characters in the mobile number field

Guide on how to outsource Invoice data entry

Guide on how to outsource Invoice data entry

Guide on how to outsource Invoice data entry

 

Like each individual, each business is also unique. And inter-dependent.

In our business or line of work we need to rely on many others, both businesses and individuals. The businesses and people we sell our products and services to are our clients or buyers. If there were no clients, we would not have a business. The businesses and people we source inputs in the form of raw materials and services from are our suppliers or vendors or contractors. Even the employees of a business are suppliers in a way; suppliers of expertise, skill and labour that enable the business to create a product or service of value that its clients will pay for.

In a commercial transaction, products and services are obtained for a consideration, or value. The consideration or value is paid by a buyer based on an Invoice that is issued by the seller which provides the details of the product or service that has been purchased and how the total amount has been arrived at.

 

Invoices Data Entry Solutions

We understand what an Invoice is.

But what is Invoice data entry?

Simply stated, Invoice data entry is the process through which information provided on an Invoice is entered into a software application so that it gets converted to standardised data that can be accessed, retrieved and processed in a uniform manner.

The software application could be a simple application software like a spreadsheet, or it could be one with the specific purpose of Invoice management. 

 

The case to outsource Invoice Data Entry

All businesses are unique. That we already know.

What we perhaps also know is that each business operates with the help of a unique combination of processes and technologies.

What does this have to do with Invoicing and Invoice data entry services? Let us take an example.

Say Business A buys a product from Business X.

Business X will send the product to Business A, while Business A will send an amount of money representing the value of the product, to Business X. This will be done based on an Invoice issued by Business X to Business A.

Business X will issue the Invoice from their own system or application that is used for issuance of such Invoices. It will be their own unique format and might be sent physically as a paper Invoice or electronically through an email, even though, in many cases, the fields of information on an Invoice are quite standard. An Invoice will usually mention:

  • Purchase Order Number
  • Date of Invoice
  • Invoice Number
  • Number of Units
  • Product Description
  • Amount
  • Payment terms (like 50% on Order, balance of delivery)
  • How to Pay
  • Tax Payment (GST / VAT)
  • Shipping/ Delivery Dates and Details
  • Name and Contact Details of buyer & seller

Whichever way it is sent, it will still be an extrinsic artefact for Business A. In other words, it will not be a part of any of their applications (systems).

Now imagine Business A receives a hundred such Invoices form a hundred vendors from their hundred unique systems in a month. Any time any information needs to be retrieved from the Invoices it would become a manual exercise. And an onerous one as the number of Invoices keeps multiplying with time.

Invoices data entry solutions is the process through which information on such Invoices is transferred to a software application such that it gets converted to standardised data that can be accessed, retrieved and processed in a uniform manner.

This process, where a business processes Invoices received from a supplier, is a part of the Accounts Payable function of the organisation.

The contra process, where the organisation issues its own Invoices to its clients, which is a part of the Account Receivable process of the organisation, may also have a need to outsource Invoice data entry, though usually to a lesser degree, since the Invoices are issued from their own application and they should have all the information in an accessible, retrievable and processable format.

The following benefits can be expected:

  • Freedom to focus on core business activities
  • Access to cutting edge process and technology
  • Accuracy and improved turnaround times
  • Updated MIS and data visibility
  • Enhancement of productivity
  • Cost saving (or value addition)

 

Selecting a Vendor to outsource Invoice Data Entry

In any business process outsourcing, selection of the outsourced partner is a key decision. This can be evaluated in two parts:

  1.       Capability of the vendor in Invoice data entry services and terms of engagement
  2.       Organisational capability and support

 

Capability of the vendor in Invoice data entry services and terms of engagement

This part of the evaluation is about the vendor’s capability in the process sought to be outsourced. The evaluation process should consider:

Prior experience – Have they done similar work for any other client? Prior experience of the vendor shortens the learning curve and will help you achieve a steady-state faster.  

Client testimonials – External validation is always helpful, particularly from other clients.  

Knowledge of Accounting and standards – This process is typically a part of the Accounts Payable process of an organisation. At times, there will be a need to interface with the Accounting systems. Knowledge of accounting and commonly followed standards will make the interface easier.

Familiarity with Enterprise financial management systems – Similarly, knowledge of systems like SAP and Peoplesoft used by businesses for handling their finance and accounting, is a plus.

Multilingual capability – Relevant for businesses that do business in multiple geographies, or hope to expand to them. You cannot go looking for another vendor each time you want to expand. A vendor should be an aid to expansion, not a roadblock.

Handling different data sources – The vendor should have the ability to handle data entry from a variety of different sources housing different elements of the information:

  •         Scanned image of hard copy invoices
  •         Credit and debit notes
  •         Sale and purchase invoices and pro-forma invoices
  •         Time sheets
  •         Claim forms
  •         Electronic payment channels

Expertise in related services – Would it add value if the vendor were to provide additional services that may be closely related to Invoice data entry services? Like:

  •         Invoice scanning
  •         Data entry into client systems
  •         Indexing and sorting of Invoices

Industry familiarity – Just like each company is different, each industry is also different from others. Retail is different from Aerospace, Transportation from Staffing, Software from Hotels and FMCG from Pharmaceuticals. Though they would all have a need to issue and pay Invoices if they are in business.

As each industry could have its own peculiar requirements and processes, it is helpful if the vendor has familiarity with your industry as that can enable them to hit the ground running when the contract begins.

Technology and data security – The vendor should be using technology that is current and demonstrates a willingness to upgrade as technology evolves and changes. Technology is the backbone of the outsourcing world. It is often referred to as Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES). And do so in a secure environment that protects client data from unauthorised access.

Turnaround time – The partner should be equipped to deliver the required service speedily. It could be a 24×7 working facility, or it could be a different time zone which facilitates overnight processing, or another suitable arrangement.

Free Trial – For most data entry outsourcing arrangements, this serves to bring the outsourcing client onboard and builds confidence. Even more so where the outsourcer is a small business owner.

Pricing – Of course, pricing can never be an unimportant consideration in any commercial arrangement. It needs to be ensured that the pricing adds value to the business.

Scalability – No organisation wants to turn away business because it could not process fast enough. The vendor needs to be able to ramp up and down, within agreed parameters of course, when required as required by business volumes. 

With services in over 20 languages, super secure facilities & protocols for data security with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015), a 24×7 workforce already handling thousands of Invoices on a daily basis, and the ability to scale up or down by 50% within 24 hours, Oworkers should be your natural choice for outsourcing your Invoice data entry work.

 

Organisational capability and support for Invoices data entry solutions

As the outsourced business process will operate under the larger umbrella of the contracting organisation, it is equally important to evaluate those parameters where the larger organisation will play a role in ensuring effective delivery to your process.

Financial health of the organisation is essential to ensure continued delivery. If compromised, it will cut corners, leading to delivery issues and the possibility of a sudden stop.

Hiring is done at the organisational level. This is normally the case since hiring is an activity that interfaces with the external world. Organisations like to maintain uniformity in their external face. Besides, it is more efficient and economical. The organisation’s hiring engine should be well established and regarded in the community to provide this support. 

It should provide a quality monitoring support that is external to the processing unit but internal to the organisation. This acts as a check before an issue becomes either a contractual issue or a client issue.

Facility Management, to ensure people have a clean and hygienic workplace and access to the physical location where the work is being done, is access controlled, in order that client data is secure.

There are many other services that the organisation needs to provide in order that your work can continue smoothly. Like Legal, that ensures compliance with required regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Like Workforce Planning, that ensures all processes are adequately, but not inefficiently, staffed and is able to project future requirements to head off challenges early. Each of them should be evaluated based on the need of the hour.

As an established player in this space, with three global delivery centers in two continents, and a strict protocol in place for GDPR compliance for sensitive data, Oworkers’ Invoices data entry solutions are ideally equipped and ready for you when you decide to outsource your Invoice data entry work. With several clients across multiple industries, Oworkers has the expertise that will enable you to get the benefit of accuracy and speed. Oworkers relies on employed staff for delivering on its contracts, and not contractual. It is a desirable place of work in all its locations, with a consistently high Glassdoor rating.

 

Process to outsource Invoice Data Entry

Selecting the right vendor is a great starting point but a lot more remains to be done. The actual work. And, even before that, the migration of the work to the vendor. In other words, equipping the vendor to do a good job which, eventually, is in your own interest.

Outlined here is a recommended process that will enable you to engage a vendor when you decide to outsource, or even when you have started to think about it. It is possible that at the start, as you evaluate vendor capabilities and suitability for your requirement, you could be engaging with more than one potential vendor. It is also possible, depending on the volume of your work, you engage more than one vendor, which also serves as a back-up arrangement for you in case one of them is unable to operate for one reason or another.

Identify Requirement

Many business deals do not succeed because the client (buyer) is not clear on the requirements. What are they buying? Why are they buying? What problem will it solve? What value will it add? Identification of your need is a good starting point. Additionally, some clarity on success (or failure) criteria will be even better.

Advertise requirement to outsource Invoice Data Entry

Once it is clear that you would like to consider outsourcing as an option, you would need to make known to the prospective vendor community about it. This can be done in many different ways:

  • Reaching out directly to vendors who may be providing similar services to competitors.
  • Advertising in trade circles, if you are a part of them.
  • Issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) which is like a standardised proposal form where you specify the information you are looking for in each proposal.
  • Looking up prospective vendors online or through directories like Yellow Pages and informing them one by one of your requirements. They will respond if interested.

Shortlist vendors

By now you would have hopefully received some interest from prospective vendors. If you have been flooded with responses, at this stage, based on information received, you should shortlist down to a few, perhaps two or three, with whom you can engage in a more detailed manner. A B2B engagement is a time-consuming affair. The larger the shortlist the more of your time it will require.

Detailed discussion

This is where the detailed discussions will happen and both parties will be required to share information. In most B2B cases, this will be preceded by the execution of a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which binds both parties to treating the information received as confidential and enjoins them to ensure it is handled with the utmost care. This is the stage where the potential vendor will make a case for being selected, scope of services will be discussed, including indicative pricing.

Shortlist down to 1

After detailed discussions with the shortlisted few, which might require multiple discussions, site visits, interacting with staff members, exploring combinations, negotiating on price and service levels, you will shortlist down to the most suitable vendor to whom you will offer contractual terms, which would have been already discussed during the previous stage. The others will not be rejected at this stage as they may still need to be called upon if this one does not work out for some reason.

Finalise terms and sign contract

The formal agreement is executed based on mutually acceptable terms and conditions.

Trial Run

If a Trial Run has been agreed this would be the time to initiate it. The contract would define the success criteria for this step and the rights of the client and vendor based on various outcomes possible.

Implementation Project Plan to outsource Invoice Data Entry

If this has not been done at the contracting stage, the parties will develop and agree on an Implementation Plan which defines the steps each of them need to take to reach a steady state. In other words, reach a point at which the activities envisaged in the contract are running at the expected level. The timelines are also defined in the Implementation Plan.

Vendor to Identify team, and gear up

The vendor will need to identify the team that will support activities under this contract. The various supporting teams will be informed about the new contract and they will begin to play their roles, like the hiring team will source people, the IT team will work towards a technology handshake with client systems, etc.

Initial training and hand-holding

You will probably need to do the initial training to familiarise the vendor staff on your systems and processes and ensure there is an alignment of objectives. Generally, future training requirements, either on account of replacement of staff or hiring additional staff to cater to increased volumes, will be handled by the vendor.

Begin work, test and then go full steam

Work begins. If volumes are large, there is a ramp-up generally provided for in the Project Plan. Staring slowly, the work gradually ramps up to handle the agreed volumes.

This is an indicative sequence of steps and not mandatory. Not all steps will be needed in all cases. In some cases, the sequence could also change, like a Trial Run could happen before a contract is signed.

Oworkers provides comprehensive support to clients seeking to outsource Invoice data entry. With experience in the area with clients from different industries, Oworkers is well placed to act as a Consultant right from identification of need and building a case for it, providing information on contractual formats, through to the trial phase, ramp phase and eventual settling down of the process and realisation of investment through delivery on agreed SLAs.

9 Tips to Help You Improve the Accuracy in Data Entry

9 Tips to help you Improve the Accuracy in Data Entry

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.

10 Excel Data Entry Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss

10 Excel Data Entry Tips You Can't Afford to Miss

10 Excel Data Entry Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss

Excel is a popular software application used by millions of people with good reason. It is used for a variety of applications. From simple record keeping to accounting to numerical calculations to logical functions. It is even used by people for word processing and presentations, despite much more powerful applications being available for those specific purposes.

As it is an application with a variety of functions and capabilities, it is quite possible that infrequent users, or light users, are able to leverage only the apparent or basic functions of the tool without ever realizing the power it possesses. And how easy it is to use or activate those functions. Despite this anomaly, for most people, even the basic functions they use seem to deliver a satisfactory experience. Such is its capability.

oWorkers offers a wide range of Excel data entry solutions. With our experience in providing data-based services to clients for over seven years, we possess the experience and knowledge to create efficiencies in your data entry processes. We have been identified as one of the top three BPOs in the world for data services. On multiple occasions.

In order that the power of Excel be revealed to more users, listed below are 10 excel data entry tips that are easy to use and can deliver surprising benefits in terms of enhancement of efficiency and accuracy.

As is the case with many software applications, if you have created an Excel workbook for recording a limited data set, say the grades in the six subjects that both your children got in the last set of examinations, the benefit will be limited. The magnitude of benefit will rise with the volume of data that is being entered or maintained in a particular workbook. This is actually intuitive and self-explanatory as well. If you save 1 second for every field because of the efficiency that has been created, in a worksheet with only 12 fields to be filled, you will save 12 seconds. Not really worth anyone’s time to invest on learning about new techniques that will help save time. However, if the worksheet has 12000 fields to be input, 12000 seconds, or 200 minutes, or over 3 hours, stand to be saved by creating a certain efficiency. Hence, even if it takes half an hour to learn the trick, it is perhaps much more worth it.

 

1. Keyboard shortcuts are great excel data entry tips

Let us begin with the low hanging fruit; keyboard shortcuts.

While the menus on most application software programs are put together after a lot of research and designed to be intuitive, at times there still is a struggle to find the right buttons and menu choices.

The pain can be mitigated to some extent if we know the keyboard shortcuts that can be used for some of our common needs.

Ctrl + O – Opens dialog box to open or find a file

Ctrl + N – Creates a new workbook

Ctrl + S – Saves file

Ctrl + F2– Opens the Print Preview dialog box

Alt + Enter – Create a new line in the same cell

Alt + Page Down – Move to the next screen to the right

Ctrl + Down (arrow) – Move to the bottom edge of the data

Ctrl + Z – Undo

This is indicative, and not exhaustive. Once you start using keyboard shortcuts, you will perhaps discover many others using similar logic.

 

2. Entering numbers with decimal numbers fixed

What does this mean?

Sometimes one needs to enter a number in a field that has a decimal portion to it, like 903.78 or 2.24. When you enter this information you need to perforce press the decimal (dot) key for each number you enter, increasing the time taken to enter.

What can you do?

You can create a format in that field so that the worksheet automatically assumes the decimal at a certain place. This way, you will not need to hit the decimal key each time you enter a number. If you are entering 12000 numbers, this means saving 12000 keystrokes.

How do you do this?

Choose Options from the File menu.

In the Dialog Box that opens up, choose Advanced

In the New screen of the Dialog Box, check the option ‘Automatically insert a decimal point.’

Just below that there is another dropdown box with the name ‘Places.’ Choose the number of decimals you want, say 2.

Now, each time you enter a number, it will place the last two after the decimal. So, if you enter 224, it will be recorded as 2.24 in that cell.

For more excel data entry tips read on.

 

3. Entering Date and Time in cells

With our increasing reliance on devices, we often struggle to recollect simple pieces of information like the data and time. If they have to be entered into an Excel spreadsheet, we might end up referring to other devices so that the correct data and time might be entered.

However, let us not forget that Excel is also a device, and a pretty smart one at that. If the date and time can be maintained by other devices why not Excel? Of course, it can be.

All you need to do is ‘Control’ along with the ‘;’ (semicolon) key. As if by magic, the current date will appear in the cell where you took that action.

Not dissimilarly, for entering the current time, you need to press ‘Control’ with ‘Shift’ with ‘:’ (colon) keys. Yes, three keys instead of two. The ‘Shift’ key is required to access the colon.

You may want to ensure that the display of the date and time is as per your requirement. You can choose from a variety of display options that Excel makes available.

Also, these are values and not variables. What it means is that once entered, they will continue to be the same unless someone chooses to change them. They will not change to reflect the new data and time as it keeps changing.

 

4. Filling the entire selection with content of the active cell

What is an active cell?

When you select multiple cells in Excel, the selection gets shaded except for one cell where the cursor is/ was when you initiated the selection. That unshaded cell is the active cell in this selection.

Now, when you enter something in this cell, the active one, followed by ‘Control’ and ‘Enter’ that entry gets replicated across the entire selection.

This happens in case of formulas just as well as it happens for values. In case of formulas, not only will the formula get copied but the cell references will also get adjusted across the selection.

How is that for simple excel data entry tips?

 

5. Using abbreviations to enter long text

Data entry can be a repetitive task. You may be entering a long list of tasks in an Excel sheet with some attributes. One of the attributes is the assignment or responsibility. In other words, which of the seven resources or persons is that particular task assigned to? If a hundred tasks are getting assigned between seven people, with seven unique names most likely, each of the seven would appear many times in that list.

For example, if Rosalind Chambers will have 15 tasks assigned to her, you will need to type her name as many times. Including the space, that is 17 characters each time. 15 occurrences of the name make it a total of 235 characters worth data entry.

You can create a short ‘code’ that equates to the long word or phrase you need to type. This can be done through the Autocorrect feature of Excel. Excel already has a library of commonly misspelt words that it automatically corrects. You can add to the list and save time on your data entry.

This is how you do it:

  1. Choose Options from the File tab
  2. In the dialog box, choose Proofing, followed by Autocorrect Options
  3. In the space for Replace you can add the code. In this case let us add ‘Ros.’ In the space for With we add the word we actually want, in this case ‘Rosalind Chambers.’
  4. Complete the sequence with Add followed by OK and we are ready.

Each time you type ‘Ros’ Excel will change it to ‘Rosalind Chambers.’ Cool, isn’t it?

Please note that this is an Excel level change and will be applicable in all your workbooks. Even when you want to type Ros it will change it to Rosalind. So, choose a code that you will not use otherwise. Choose wisely.

 

6. Data entry in non-contiguous cells

Occasionally, a task may require data entry in a ‘broken’ set of cells. A2, followed by B7, followed by D4, etc. This is usually when a workbook is used like a word processor more than a database or accounting sheet.

Data entry in non-contiguous cells can cause errors not only in data being incorrect but also being entered in the wrong cells. Excel data entry tips have a solution that can mitigate such issues.

You can lessen the error margin by selecting the cells and the sequence in which you will enter data in them. This can be done by selecting all the cells, in the right sequence, once. This can be done by selecting them while the Control key is kept pressed.

While selected, type a name for this range in the name Box on the left of the formula bar.

Now, whenever you need to enter data in this sequence and range, choose the name you gave to this range and bring those cells up. When you complete typing in one cell, the cursor will automatically jump to the next cell in the range.

 

7. Freezing panes to lock headers of Rows and Columns

Many times when entering data in large sheets, it is important to know that you are entering information in the right column and row. Because of its size, as you keep scrolling, the column and row headers get lost.

Excel provides a facility through which you can lock the header rows and columns so that regardless of how deep you are in the sheet, they will always be visible and you will know exactly which column and row your data is being entered into.

To do this:

Clickon the Freeze Panes dropdown in the View tab of Excel.

You will see 3 options:

  1. Freeze Panes
  2. Freeze Top Row
  3. Freeze First Column

Options 2 and 3 can be used to freeze the top row and top column respectively. They are self-explanatory.

Option 1 provides the option of freezing both at the same time. In fact, it is a flexible option and you can freeze multiple rows AND columns at the same time.

 

8. Dropdown for quick selection

Many times one needs to enter one out of a fixed set of possible choices in a cell. For example, for a list of candidates who applied for a job, the interviewer may need to mark either Shortlisted, Rejected or Second opinion needed against each candidate based on her assessment of each candidate’s credentials. Entering one of the three again and again will be time consuming.

Sequence for setting it up:

  1. In the cell you wish to set up the validation, click on Data Validation after selecting Data
  2. A dialog box will open up. In the Settings tab of the box, in Validation Criteria, choose List.
  3. When you choose List, an additional Source Field will appear.
  4. You can enter the three values Shortlisted, Rejected or Second opinion needed in the field and click OK to set it up.
  5. For setting it up in multiple cells, or an entire column, select the range before creating the validation.

Now, the evaluator only needs to select from one of the three options that will be presented as soon as she moves to the cell she has to enter this information in. This will also reduce spelling errors. Excel data entry tips come to the rescue once more!

 

9. List of unique values to choose from

A variation of setting up a validation manually is where you use the values already keyed into a certain range of sells, to form the validation for the rest of the worksheet.

If you do not know at the start that you will be entering from a set of entries in one cell, but realize that after you have input a few, you can create a dynamic dropdown for the rest of the sheet. As you go to the same cell in the next row, you can click Alt + Down (arrow) together. Unique values entered in the cells above will show up and you can choose the one you need in that cell.

 

10. Excel data entry tips can fill cells below

This is a variation of the copy-paste routine but perhaps quicker.

For copying the above cell, formula included, press Ctrl + D.

If a cell along with its formula needs to be copied to a range of cells below, just select the range of cells with the cell with the information to be replicated as the first one in the selection. It will be replicated across the selection.

 

The oWorkers advantage

oWorkers offers its services from three different geographical regions in the world, that enables us to offer services in over 22 languages. We are geared to provide 24×7 support based on client need. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certified.

With our deep connects in the local communities, we have become referred employers and attract a consistent flow of walk-in talent. This enables us to keep our hiring costs in control and also provide need-based short-term hiring to cater to seasonal and other peaks and troughs in client businesses. Our employees rate as above 4.6 out of 5 on Glassdoor.

Our clients talk of having realized savings of almost 80% after outsourcing to us.

We have been working for several Unicorn marketplaces for years. Many of our clients are established technology companies. We hope you will trust oWorkers with your work like many other clients.

8 Effective Ways to Reduce Common Data Entry Errors

8 Effective Ways to Reduce Common Data Entry Errors

8 Effective Ways to Reduce Common Data Entry Errors

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”

This quote is attributed to John Ruskin, English writer, philosopher and art critic of the early nineteenth century, but could well have been in reference to the operation of any industry or business in modern times.

Many well-known people have weighed in with their own views on quality. Henry Ford’s “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking is another quote often used in connection with quality.

Poor quality can be nobody’s claim to fame in today’s hyper-competitive world and is a one-way ticket to business oblivion. Every business has to strive to deliver good quality, or quality that it has set out to deliver.

This does not mean that all similar products are identical, with a matching quality. It means operating at the highest level of quality within its defined space, and adhering to, and exceeding, the quality standards that that space has come to expect.

After all, if there is a market for Rolls Royce cars, there is also a market for (name withheld) cars.

If there is a market for first class air travel, there is also a market for economy class air travel.

If there is a market for villas and penthouses, there is also a market for two-bedroom apartments.

The world is big and wide and it takes all sorts to make it complete. In this world, each business takes up a position whereby it seeks to earn a profit by fulfilling certain needs that it has presumably identified. The position that it seeks to occupy is a combination of many variables, like price and quality, which in turn are made up of many sub-variables, and so on. From a quality perspective, it needs to satisfy the quality expectations of this unique position or space, or segment in marketing terminology.

The same is true for data entry. Reducing data entry errors is one of the most common benchmarks for ensuring good quality in data entry.

 

1. Set up standards and targets

It is difficult to shoot down an invisible enemy.

The same logic applies to business. If an operator does not know what needs to be achieved, how will she ever achieve it? “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” management guru Peter Drucker is reputed to have said.

In work that is done manually, through people, it is important to create a relationship that enables the employer and employed to trust each other. Letting people loose on a task creates uncertainty, not only from the expectation and delivery perspective but from the compensation standpoint as well.

Setting up standards and targets and expectations creates transparency in the relationship. Transparency builds confidence and permits the focus to be on the work rather than on the factors around it.

oWorkers has consistently delivered over 99% accuracy on client engagements across different processing systems and measurement methods. One of our key endeavours for any project is to identify the lowest level of trackable parameters that lead-in to client defined goals, and set up internal measurement and tracking systems based on them. This not only enables operators to understand deliverables, but also acts as an early-warning system which gives early indication of a drop in client output parameters, enabling us to rectify them before they impact the client.

 

2. Compensation based on performance for reducing data entry errors

A logical extension of setting up standards and targets is the adoption of the same targets for the purpose of compensation.

As we know, with digital technology, activities can be tracked at the minutest level, that of a keystroke. Unlike the typewriter days when the output had to be manually counted, generally in terms of words, not characters, and divided by time to arrive at speed.

The micro level tracking now possible, enables offering compensation based on performance. It keeps the good performers motivated, and creates a path for currently lower performers to strive for improvement and earn higher levels of compensation.

Since oWorkers operates with employed staff, and not contractors or freelancers like some of our competitors, we need to ensure continued motivation as well as growth of our staff. Our reward and performance management systems are geared towards transparency and fairness in ensuring each employee is compensated based on her contribution and effort.

 

3. Hire right

Not everyone is going to become a good data entry operator. Most companies that have a data entry component of work, operate in a certain line of business, or industry. They hire resources equipped to succeed in that industry, with their educational background and experience. Data entry is not a task they have prepared for or are interested in. If these resources were to do data entry, it is likely that instead of reducing data entry errors, they might actually end up making more.

Hence, ‘horses for courses’ should be the strategy. If data entry is a requirement, the company should hire resources who can do the job well. The other strategy, of course, is to outsource to a BPO like oWorkers who understands the kind of resources that should be hired.

Since data entry does not require any specific educational background or knowledge, operators can be drawn from the segment that does not possess any form of advanced educational qualification. This has benefits on both sides. The individuals will be able to get a job closer to their skill set while the employer will be able to hire at competitive rates of compensation.

With its deep roots in the communities where we have delivery centers, as a preferred employer, oWorkers attracts a constant flow of walk-in candidates interested in jobs. This gives us a wide choice as well as keeps our hiring costs low.

 

4. Automation of tasks

In any discussion on reducing data entry errors in manual data entry, efforts at converting the manual to the automated will always be of great value. Errors of different types happen in manual processes, for the reason they are manual. Human beings are thinking beings. Their attention can waver, they may be in an emotionally vulnerable state at some point, they may even be bored doing the same thing again and again. A software or machine will have none of these issues. It will faithfully, diligently, keep doing what it has been taught to do, without mood swings, without wild thoughts, without mental burnout. Even if it makes a mistake, it will probably make the same mistake again and again!

With its partnerships with technology companies around the world, oWorkers has the ability to leverage technological innovations for delivering on client projects. Data entry is no different. With the support of these technologies, oWorkers looks out for opportunities to automate hitherto manual data entry tasks executed on behalf of clients.

 

5. Implementing validation rules

Software continues to advance. Even with regard to manual inputs that are needed by software programs, they continue to evolve to minimize the incidence of human error.

Validation rules fall in this category.

At each point manual data entry is needed, many systems are able to instal checks to ensure that the data entry being done is within expected boundaries. If there is a field for a mobile number which is 10 digits long, most systems can be made to reject any entry that is not 10 digits long. If the number should start with an 8 or a 9, it can even reject entries that do not meet this rule.

Mistakes are still possible, but their scope reduces substantially. If an inadvertent error happens which is not accepted by the system, the person doing the entry is likely to re-enter it more carefully.

With a leadership team that possesses over 20 years of hands-on experience in this area, oWorkers is equipped to implement available technology solutions like validation rules to good effect, to ensure superior client outcomes.

 

6. Reducing data entry errors through process control

While humans try to do it right, mistakes creeping in is also human. Humans are needed to do certain tasks because only humans have the intelligence to understand, interpret and carry out tasks based on certain input material.

Though a large part of the work done by humans is accurate, a few errors creeping can compromise the integrity of the database. Of course, the criticality varies with the task and project.

Process controls can control a significant portion of such errors. The two most common process controls used by organizations are:

  • A second level check on the work done by an operator. This can be layered based on the operator’s history of errors; the better the quality, the lower the percentage of work checked.
  • A process known as ‘double key data entry’ wherein two operators do the same work. Only if they differ from each other the need arises for verification of the input.

Of course, a second level check or doing the same work twice cost money. The process control implemented needs to be evaluated based on the impact of errors. In some projects, a certain percentage of errors may even be acceptable.

oWorkers, like several other BPO companies, retains an Internal Quality team. This team is independent of the delivery team and monitors their performance as an independent reviewer. It also develops and implements process improvements and controls. This team also acts as the eyes and ears of senior management and keeps them informed on developments in the process. This allows senior management to step in and take charge when the need arises.

 

7. Work environment is important

The work environment that you create and provide to your data entry staff should reflect the importance of the task. A distraction-free environment that is clean and well maintained, hygienic, with adequate provision of basic necessities like washrooms, breakout areas and eating spaces, would enable the staff to focus on their work rather than worrying about the other things.

If the environment is full of distractions where anything goes, will perhaps communicate the same message to the employee about the work she is doing. This could be counter-productive to the company’s efforts at reducing data entry errors.

oWorkers prides itself on the work environment in their physical office spaces, spread across three different geographies, widely considered as the best in the business for BPO operations. Our workspaces are conducive to producing work of the highest quality. Even for people who prefer to work from home, the technologies we use make their environment relatively distraction-free.

 

8. Run pre-validation checks

Once input sheets and other material get distributed across your team of data entry agents, it will come back together as data that has been input into the target system. If there are inconsistencies in the input form received, it will be difficult to identify them, as they have already been distributed. These inconsistencies will manifest themselves in the form of errors in the output.

Running some basic manual checks before the process of data entry is started could potentially go a long way in reducing data entry errors.

There is really no defined process for this step. It could be as basic as a supervisor or manager eyeballing the entire set of information to ensure that there are no internal inconsistencies. For example, the mobile number that appears in the second column in the first few sheets, should not be replaced by the date of birth in the next few and moved to the third column. Such inconsistencies will create issues, and errors, in the process.

oWorkers engages with the client for a deep understanding of each project. Going a level deeper, there is an ongoing communication with the client that reduces the scope for errors and rework.

 

oWorkers as outsourcing partner

Many of the challenges that data entry presents can be handled with the right approach as detailed above.

Many of the challenges can also be solved by engaging oWorkers as a partner and outsourcing data entry related work to them. oWorkers has been delivering BPO services for over 7 years to global clients and are well placed to meet your requirements as well, including reducing data entry errors.

oWorkers focuses its work on its core strength, data related BPO services. It has been identified and awarded as one of the top three data services providers in the world.

Our transparent pricing mechanism gives a choice to clients to choose from dollars per unit of output based or dollars per unit of resource-based pricing. Many of our clients from Western Europe and the US report savings of almost 90% after outsurcing work to oWorkers.

Your work enables oWorkers to employ more people from the less privileged sections of society and give them an entry ticket into the digital economy.

Your Personal Guide to Invoice Data Entry

Your Personal Guide to Invoice Data Entry

Your Personal Guide to Invoice Data Entry

Revenue is the goal of all businesses. They seek to offer a product or service that people and organizations find useful and are willing to pay for. What a customer pays constitutes revenue for a business and is the life-blood of the organization. Without revenue there is no business. The primary purpose of the business is to be able to generate revenue. Once that is assured, then come other aspects like the costs that may be incurred in generating that revenue so that there is adequate profit left over for the owners of the business.

Generating revenue is not a magical activity. It cannot be conjured out of thin air. There is human effort that goes into it, apart from the input material. Input material could take many forms. It could be an idea, it could be services like power supply and telecommunications, it could be a physical products like computers and workstations, it could be raw material like grain which is converted into flour through a factory process, it could be machinery, it could be physical space from where the business is conducted, and perhaps many others. In short, different kinds of expenses need to be incurred by the business in generating that revenue.

Both revenue and expense are generated as a result of a process known as invoicing.

What is an invoice?

According to Investopedia, an invoice is a “time-stamped commercial document that itemizes and records a transaction between a buyer and a seller. If goods or services were purchased on credit, the invoice usually specifies the terms of the deal and provides information on the available methods of payment.”

An invoice is not the process of negotiation of terms and conditions. That happens much earlier in the process. An invoice could be considered as the penultimate step through which the seller notifies the buyer that as per agreed terms and conditions, the payment (or part payment) under the transaction has become payable, subject to the credit period and other terms as specified in the invoice. It specifies the calculation behind the amount of money that is being asked for.

An invoice is also a key document from the accounting and taxation perspective. For most government levies taxes and fees, the invoice is used as the source document of a transaction that has taken place.

Historically issued on a piece of paper, invoices have kept pace with the digital journey of humans and are now often issued in electronic formats.

The process of raising and communicating an invoice can be referred to as invoicing.

 

The Invoicing Process

A supplier, or seller, of goods or services, issues an invoice, generally after completion of the sales process, which happens after the discussion, negotiation and contracting have happened. From a seller’s perspective, issuance of an invoice is a part of their ‘Order to Cash’ process.  

A buyer, or purchaser, of goods or services, received the invoice so issued. The buyer is expected to honor the invoice and make payment as per the terms agreed and reflected on the invoice. From the buyer’s perspective, payment of an invoice is a part of their ‘Process to Pay’ process.

In a free market, there is a plethora of choices. You can choose what type of office space you would like to be in. You can decide on who to hire and who not to. You can negotiate with suppliers and buy from the one offering the most favorable terms.

Similarly, there are many options for automation of the financial processes in a company. In a digitized world, each company would have a unique software application from which their invoices would be issued as and when the need arises.

So what?

Even though the world is digitized, each company is digitized differently. The seller’s Finance system does not interface with the buyer’s Finance system. Hence, even though the seller has issued a completely digital invoice based on a digital workflow, as soon as it goes out of their system, it becomes a non-digital object.

For the buyer to enable it to once again become a part of their digital process, the invoice will perhaps need to go through a process of invoice data entry.

 

What is invoice data entry?

It is the entry point into automation of the Accounts Payable process of a company. This process tracks and manages the money they need to pay out to various suppliers.

The corresponding process on the supplier’s side is the Accounts Receivables process. It keeps track of the money they are expecting to receive from buyers.

Once digitized, or data entered, the company’s established processes would kick in and take the invoice through its various stages of processing that might include checking, validation, authorisation, release of payment and finally archiving.

To enable this process to be activated, all relevant details required by the buyer’s system will need to be picked up from the supplier’s invoice and keyed into the system. These are likely to include:

  • Invoice number
  • Vendor name
  • Order reference number (or Purchase Order number) and date
  • Date of transaction
  • Credit period (proposed date of payment)
  • Details of good or services supplied
  • Calculation of the amount
  • Taxes and levies where applicable
  • Total payable amount
  • Payment information (how the payment should be made; bank account etc.)

This manual step enables further processing to happen smoothly and, quite possibly, saves a lot more manual effort later on in the process. Depending on the volumes, the company could also choose to deploy technologies such as OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These further enhance efficiencies of the invoice data entry process so that only the questionable pieces of information need to be referred to an operator for completion. Everything else is uploaded through an automated process.

 

Who can benefit?

It is for all organizations who see an opportunity for creating efficiency in their Accounts Payable processes.

Historically, most processes start out manually. They get tried out, tested, validated, updated, and finally established. As transaction volumes grow, the need starts being felt for greater efficiency as the cost of manual processing starts to add up. That is typically the stage at which options of efficiency start to be considered by the organization.

Invoice data entry is no different.

When invoice volumes are small, most activities might be manual. It is possible to track and process a handful of invoices manually, ensure validation, make sure payments don’t get delayed and make the payments manually.

However, it becomes a handful as volumes rise. And often it is a happy problem to solve because a rise in the volume of invoices would mean that business is growing and purchases are increasing to feed the sales that are also increasing.

Many types of specialized businesses have come into existence in the modern world. Accounting services is one such. They handle invoice processing on behalf of their clients. They could be early beneficiaries as their volumes would be large since they do it for a living. Many new businesses are outsourcing supporting functions like accounting directly to such firms in a bid to ensure complete focus on their core business.

The key benefit is digitization which releases the company from frequent rounds of manual effort, whether it is for payment, or extraction of information, or reconciliation with the bank account. Once digitized, information can move seamlessly across systems and processes. It also serves as an input for decision-making with information being available readily in a manner that can be diced and sliced in different ways.

 

Benefits of outsourcing

While doing it inhouse will deliver the key benefits of the process, there are perhaps opportunities available through outsourcing that can enhance the benefits from the operation.

Invoice data entry is an essential process. It is an activity that needs to be carried out. Hence, the important question is “What is the best way of doing it?” rather than “Should it be done?”

How can your organization benefit from outsourcing this key activity?

Access to the skills of a specialist

Providing a similar set of services across client engagement leads to building of provider skills that can be leveraged for delivering the process more efficiently. This benefits both the client as well as the outsourcer.

oWorkers has worked for multiple clients in this area with client engagements expanding over the seven years of their existence. We have been recognized as one of the top three providers of data services in the world, on more than one occasion.

Hiring the right skills at the right price

With their focus on data entry, providers are able to access talent pools that clients may never be able to access. These are people for whom the job is of value and hence will work hard to deliver. Moreover, based on their educational qualification and experience, they can be hired at reasonable levels of compensation.

oWorkers is a preferred employer in all the geographies it operates its delivery centers in. This gives us access to a steady stream of walk-in talent for employment, reducing our hiring cost. We are also in a position to offer significant short-term ramp-ups to cater to seasonality or other triggers for increased volumes.

Technology and Data Security systems

Based on aggregated volumes across multiple clients and engagements, suppliers are well placed to invest in technology and process improvement solutions designed to deliver greater efficiency and value in the process.

oWorkers has forged relationships with IT companies, some of them being clients. This gives us access to the latest technologies that can be deployed for client engagements, which otherwise clients may not have access to.

We are GDPR compliant and ISO certified and operate out of highly secure facilities.

Business Continuity capability

BPO vendors, at least the established ones, operate out of multiple facilities in varied geographies. This is for a variety of reasons, but one of the benefits it provides to clients is that of business continuity in the event of a shutdown at one place, whether on account of a natural event or a political event or any other.

With three delivery centers located in three different geographies, oWorkers has several clients who have opted to a multi-site delivery model. This enables their operations to continue, albeit at reduced levels, even when one of the sites is not accessible. Our centers are also equipped to operate 24×7 services.

Our business continuity support also includes our ability to continue to operate seamlessly from home or from the workplace. Many of our client businesses have kept running during the strictest lockdowns because we were able to provide continued support from home.

Multilingual support

Expanding businesses have many requirements, the ability to handle multiple languages being one. As you grow, you don’t want to keep looking for a service that will be able to support you in your new language of work. With established providers, you will get the benefit of multilingual support, so that you can focus on your business.

oWorkers, with the diverse talent pool that they rely on for delivery of services, is able to provide support for invoice data entry, as well as other services, in over 22 of the most common languages spoken around the world.

Cost advantage

Learning a new skill can take time and cost money. Also, operating at a small scale can be more expensive than operating at a larger one. BPO providers, with their specialization and large volumes, can deliver the service at a much lower cost than clients themselves.

Many of oWorkers clients from Western Europe and the US have reported savings of almost 90% as compared to their pre-outsourcing costs. Our costs are transparent, and we offer the flexibility of transaction-based pricing or resource time-based pricing. The client can choose.

Speed of delivery

Supporting a variety of clients from around the world keeps BPOs nimble and flexible. Many of them run 24×7 services. They are also able to turn around transactions much faster than a client might be able to do, because this is their business, not a support function.

oWorkers provides overnight delivery to some clients where the time difference makes it possible. The client hands off a file that contains the information to be processed before they shut for the day. By that time oWorkers is beginning work at one of their locations. The transaction processing is done during the day and handed back to the client before that shop shuts for the day. By that time the client is awakening for the next day. It is as if magically, while they were asleep, the transaction processing was completed. With 24×7 operations, it becomes even more powerful.

 

Final Word

Even fully digitized organizations need to do invoice data entry as invoices are often received from non-compatible systems. As volumes rise, keeping the process manual creates challenges at later stages, hence it becomes an essential, and not an optional activity. Many organizations have found value in outsourcing this work to BPO providers, many to oWorkers, like several unicorn marketplaces and IT companies. We hope you will, too.

Your outsourced work enables oWorkers to engage more people from disadvantaged backgrounds, provide them training and give them an entry ticket into the global digital economy. 

What is a Good Data Entry Speed?

What is a Good Data Entry Speed

What is a Good Data Entry Speed?

With technology, computing devices, data, bandwidth, all around us, it might seem that we are living in a sort of futuristic utopia where human beings have to just show up and be served by machines that communicate with each other. But we know better, don’t we?

Data entry continues to occupy a prominent place in the support functions that power the digital world. While converting legacy manual data to digital formats may be one reason why manual data entry continues, we are also creating new technologies with their own need for manual data entry.

Take Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for example. While they are expected to play a key role in the world of the future, the very process of creating the model requires a huge amount of manual work like data annotation and labelling that needs to be done primarily manually.

Since data entry is an input that produces an output, it needs to be measured and managed to ensure that value is being created and not destroyed through that process. It offers us perhaps one of the purest and simplest measures in the form of speed at which data is entered.

In a world where it continues to play an important role, just what can we expect by way of data entry speed?

And is that all we need to look for? Or are there other parameters that also assume importance, such as accuracy of the work?

Speed at the time of typewriters

Computer keyboards have evolved from typewriter keyboards, or keys. For the uninitiated, typewriters were devices that were used to create ‘formal’ documents as opposed to informal or handwritten ones. Each letter of the alphabet was assigned to one key and by depressing it would leave an impression on the paper where it was required. As these were standard characters, once imprinted on paper, would mean the same thing to all readers, as opposed to handwritten documentation that could leave room for doubt.

These were purely manual devices that did not have any wiring or software code embedded into them. Also, accuracy was of utmost importance as errors could not merely be deleted as in word processing programs today. They would leave an impression on the paper.

In the days of typewriters, in terms of speed, a count of forty words was considered to be reasonable and, of course, the more you did beyond that, the better you were. At fifty you started becoming a professional. The measure used was words per minute (WPM) which was calculated by the operator typing out a text, the number of words in which was known in advance, and dividing that by the number of minutes taken to complete it.

This was overlaid with the accuracy produced to create an index for the quality of the output, or of the typist, with both speed and accuracy taken into account. The weightage given to speed and accuracy would vary based on the purpose.

Computer keyboard and impact on data entry speed

Though computer keyboards have evolved from the typewriter keys, some changes have also taken place. Computers being computing devices, the balance of power between letters and numbers has shifted towards a lot more of the key-pressing being of numbers as compared to typewriters. This is perhaps because numbers convert more readily to information that can be worked upon by computers. Many databases that are created through data entry also have numerical information, such as date of birth, scores, length, width, position, etc. These requirements have resulted in a numeric keypad being added to the keyboard, in addition to the one usually at the top.

Additionally, since these are electronic devices, information can also be gathered electronically. For example, it is now possible to track how many times a particular letter was pressed while creating a document or database, without manually counting.

Keyboards are no longer used mainly for the purpose of creating formal documents that can be read and understood by all in a similar manner. They are equally frequently used for creating databases and tables that collect and display information and lend themselves to calculations and computing. In these ‘documents,’ it is more difficult to define what a word is. Is a complete date a word? Or are the date, month and year three words in a date?

These changes have resulted in the evolution of a character per minute (CPM) or characters per hour (CPH) as a more standard measure of speed instead of the words per minute used earlier. Some users prefer to use ‘keystrokes’ instead of ‘character.’ This measure has an advantage over WPM, its predecessor, apart from being automatically generated. The advantage is that it reflects each character as it is pressed, hence it can be considered to be the most micro level measure that might be used in this exercise. It also makes up for the characters per word that might differ from one text to another, and includes both letters and numerals in its assessment.

What is a good data entry speed?

While there is no single answer to this question, there are some general expectations that have emerged.

It is now accepted that numeric entry is faster than text entry as it needs to deal only with 10 characters or keys while there are many more on the standard keyboard. This means that a task that is weighted in favor of more numeric data, should be handled faster than a one that has less numeric information.

Since most data entry tasks are a composite of numbers and text, 7000 CPH is now generally considered to be the minimum expectation with 8000 CPH onwards beginning to be in the acceptable range.

Let us compare this to the expectation from typists.

An average word in English has a length of 4.7 characters, as explained by Wolf Garbe. Adding on a character for the space between words makes it 5.7. A typist typing 50 words in a minute would type 285 characters in a minute or about 17000 CPH, much higher than the expectation from data entry operators.

Working backwards, 8000 CPH would work out to under 25 WPM. In a way it makes sense as the average person types at a rate of about 25 WPM and data entry operators are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill-sets. Perhaps also makes us appreciate the professionalism and training of typists who were reaching and exceeding the 50 WPM mark. It has been an open secret in all organizations that have significant data input requirements, that enhancing the typing skills of their staff can deliver significant efficiency benefits.

However, this only sets out general standards and expectations. Each assignment is different. There is a difference in the cost of inaccuracy. There is a different text and numeral balance. So, work it out for yourselves. Besides, when the volume is large and there are many people doing the same job, relativity in output between different people also throws up information that can be used to set our own benchmarks.

The Accuracy Balance

Data entry speed does not exist in isolation. There is always another side to the data entry picture, that of accuracy. It can be nobody’s case to make errors in data entry while striving for speed. You may have heard of the US Government losing over a million dollars in revenue in the late 19th century on account of a misplaced comma. In today’s money it would be at least twenty times more. Or many websites being blocked as a result of a data entry error at a major search engine over ten years back. For people responsible for doing or managing data entry, it might feel like a see-saw on occasions. Press down on speed and quality becomes lighter. Focus on quality and accuracy become lighter. But, that is life and that is business. One has to manage competing priorities.

It makes sense for businesses to be conscious of the need for accuracy. Of course, at what point does the fine balance lie, remains for each business to decide itself. However, here are some ways through which accuracy in data entry can be promoted:

Automation

This is an obvious solution. What can be automated will be automated. It is an ongoing effort. Not being subject to the unpredictability of human behavior, once automated, data entry becomes more predictable and accurate, while increasing data entry speed.

Two screens

This makes for greater screen space being available to the operator. In addition, it avoids frequent switching between screens as you have an alternate screen to bring up source and reference documents on.

Check and review process

Depending on the criticality of the process and the cost of making errors, a process control in the form of an external review by another person can locate and eliminate errors. Depending on criticality, it could be a 100% review or only a sample check. Based on trends identified in the sample check a more detailed analysis could be undertaken of areas that could be more at risk.

System checks

Modern software applications are versatile. If processes require manual data entry, they can be set up in many different ways to mitigate the errors, like validation rules. For example, where it is possible to define the expected entry in a field, any entry that does not meet that expectation can be rejected. For example, if a mobile number needs to be 10 digits, any entry of 9 or 11 digits will be rejected.

Systemic MIS and control reports

Since the equipment is electronic, it can be leveraged to produce information on performance and identify errors in the input in the form of outliers. If 99 out of 100 date fields have been input as DDMMYY and one as MMDDYY, the exception can be unearthed and rectified, if required. If 98 addresses are of San Diego and two of San Antonio, they can be caught in the exception report and checked.

Supportive environment

An environment conducive to work goes a long way in producing accuracy. If the operator can be allowed to focus on the job, instead of worrying about non-work issues like the office being too hot, or network speed being too slow, or cramped workstation, or too much background noise and movement, she is likely to produce better results. Given a choice between doing well and doing badly, all human beings would like to give a good account of themselves.

Data entry speed – what next?

The funny thing is that speed and quality may not be mutually exclusive. Many of the suggestions offered with a view to improving accuracy of data entry may end up improving data entry speed as well.

A supportive environment will promote good performance from all perspectives. Automation, once it kicks in, will make speed a meaningless measure. Systemic checks and controls, while ostensibly increasing accuracy and controlling errors, will, hopefully, provide confidence to the operator allowing him to do her job in an uninhibited manner.

These are, of course, methods that are external to the operator, the key person in the whole situation. We have seen earlier the quality and speed at which trained typists were able to operate on typewriters. Effort should be made to impart similar training to people who are doing the manual data entry task. This can release the greatest value. The question will be – does the operator see a long-term career in this line of work to invest time and money for improvement?

Leveraging the capability and experience of an outsourced organization like oWorkers remains a great option for companies that have a need for data entry services.

With their status as preferred employers in all communities they work in, they receive a consistent flow of interested applicants for data entry and other jobs. This affords them a choice and they can select people based on their skills for different roles. This also enables them to offer handling peaks and troughs in client volumes, another substantial saving for clients. They can hire up to 100 resources in a 2-day period.

With their technology clients and other technology companies they have forged a relationship that enables them to use the latest technologies for their delivery. This helps clients access the latest technologies as well. They are GDPR compliant and ISO certified and operate from secure facilities in three major geographies. This creates business continuity planning options for clients who can opt for a multi-site delivery strategy.

Led by a team that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, oWorkers has been serving clients from around the world.