What Do Data Entry Clerks Do?
What Do Data Entry Clerks Do?

What do data entry clerks do?

Data entry being a pervasive activity in today’s world, everyone perhaps has an intuitive understanding of the term data entry as well as expectations from a data entry operator. And they are all, most probably right.

However, called upon to provide a definition, or a formal explanation of the duties, we will all perhaps struggle. This is not because we do not know, but because the duties of a data entry operator are so basic and commonplace that they are almost assumed to be a given without the need for a definition or formal articulation.

Do their duties vary by industry? What do data entry clerks do in a bank that they do not do in an insurance company, or an airline, or a telecommunications company, or a non-profit organization?

Do their duties vary by function? What do data entry clerks do in Human Resources that they do not do in Marketing, or in Legal, or in Administration or in Accounting and Finance or in Sales?

What we will find is that they don’t. The responsibilities of a data entry person do not differ based on industry or function. It could well be one of the more uniform jobs across the industry and function spectrum.

With a leadership team with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, oWorkers is able to deploy data entry resources most effectively, based on their skill and experience.

With a large number of technology companies as clients, including unicorn marketplaces, oWorkers has access to the latest technology and tools. This enables our staff to use the most current technologies for client work.


Job Description of a data entry clerk

If you are not the first human to consider employing someone to do a data entry job for you, it is always instructive to look at job descriptions that are being used for the same purpose. Many others have thought about the issue and offered solutions. Let us leverage their collective wisdom for this purpose. Of course, should we wish to make changes before issuing our requirements, it remains our prerogative.

The Job Description we perused listed the responsibilities of a data entry operator as follows:

  • Entering customer and account data from source documents within time limits.
  • Compiling, verifying accuracy and sorting information to prepare source data for computer entry.
  • Reviewing data for deficiencies or errors, correcting any incompatibilities and checking output.
  • Maintaining information on our company databases and computer systems.
  • Collecting and entering data in databases.
  • Maintaining accurate records of valuable company information.
  • Maintaining accurate, up-to-date and usable information in our systems.
  • Inserting customer and account data by inputting text based and numerical information from source documents within time limits.
  • Compiling, verifying accuracy and sorting information according to priorities to prepare source data for computer entry.
  • Reviewing data for deficiencies or errors, correct any incompatibilities if possible and check output.
  • Researching and obtaining further information for incomplete documents.
  • Applying data program techniques and procedures.
  • Generating reports, storing completed work in designated locations and performing backup operations.
  • Scanning documents and print files, when needed.
  • Keeping information confidential.
  • Responding to queries for information and accessing relevant files.
  • Complying with data integrity and security policies.
  • Ensuring proper use of office equipment and addressing any malfunctions.

Quite a handful, don’t you think? But, hopefully, it gives us an answer to the question: “What do data entry clerks do?”

And this is only at the functional level. At the industry, or vertical level, while the job description might remain the same, there would be additional complexities and requirements that would need to be learned for effective execution.

Work may need to be done online or offline. It might involve working with insurance policy issuance or it could require working with municipal birth records. It might ask for handling and uploading name cards collected by a sales leader or it might need translation of a document. The operator may need to data enter manually scribbled notes in the margins of a book or enter invoice related information.  

However, despite the apparent complexity, what makes it possible for data entry jobs to be performed effectively is that most of the time the focus will be on one or two of the functional requirements, not all. And that particular task will need to be done again and again. That might create its own set of challenges but that, and how to handle it, is a discussion for another day.

Regardless of the job profile, on account of its close connections in local communities, oWorkers is able to attract a constant flow of walk-in talent throughout the year, eager to work for us. This helps us in keeping our hiring costs low, which eventually reflects in our pricing. Our clients regularly report savings of upto 80% when compared with pre-outsourcing costs.

This also enables us to cater to peaks and troughs in volumes, without asking clients to bear the cost for the full year. We have the flexibility to hire upto 100 additional heads within 48 hours.

Our employees have an additional skill, that of languages. oWorkers supports clients in over 22 popular languages of the world.


Skills needed for the job

Defining “what do data entry clerks do” is one part of the story. The other is the doing part. Someone needs to get all this work, that we defined earlier, done. Who is the person who is going to do this work? What kind of person is needed for the job to be done? What is the profile? What skill sets do we expect the person to offer?

Educational background

The considered view of managers who hire for data entry jobs is that data entry capability is not aided by any prior educational attainment. The only requirement as far as education is concerned is more of a hygiene factor. The person should be educated enough to be able to understand and execute on requirements. She should have familiarity with basic application software as well as working with devices like laptops and printers. Beyond that, she should possess the basic human skills of being able to work with people and in a team of people and be socially comfortable. Beyond that they can be trained on the requirements of the job.

This is perhaps the reason why supply exceeds demand and wages are low. Most people, who may not be able to qualify for other jobs, can aspire to become data entry operators. On the flip side, since the entry requirements are low, data entry can be a great method to get more people form less than privileged backgrounds into formal employment from where some of them might be able to work their way out of poverty. This is why political leaders often provide support to data entry businesses as they see it as a means of getting more people employed.

Typing skills

Almost everything that will get done in a data entry business, will get done with the help of a keyboard. Maybe a mouse that goes along. Hence, it stands to reason that aspirants for data entry roles should make an effort to brush up their typing skills. One correct answer to the question, “what do data entry clerks do?” is “they type.”

Typing skill is the combination of typing speed as well as typing accuracy. It can be nobody’s case that the operator types fast while making a lot of errors.

An input provided to a computer by means of keypad is very specific, and cannot be mistaken for anything else. This helps the computer in processing data as opposed to inputs it has received that are not specific, an image for example, that it cannot do much with.

Familiarity with application software

Typing interfaces on computer keyboards have evolved from the typewriter, widely used in the pre-computer days to convert the informality of handwriting into the formality of typed information. Though typing skill would mean familiarity with the typing interface of computers, an additional requirement is familiarity with application software.

Application software refers to the software of a program that information will be keyed into. In many cases these are standard software programs like MS Word and MS Excel which can be used for a variety of requirements. It is expected that aspirants looking for data entry jobs come armed with this knowledge. In today’s day and age, it has become a bit like knowing how to type or knowing how to speak English. Of course, in many cases the application is a custom software used only by that company. This will require some training to be imparted to the data entry operator.

Language Skills

Nothing much will happen if two human beings cannot communicate. Communication skills form the basis of all human interaction. And language is the bedrock of communication. Humans have evolved communication skills to the point where we make some sounds from our throat/ mouth that are understood by other human beings. They respond by taking out more sounds from the throat/ mouth which we understand equally well. This is language.

Language could be used casually and informally in a social setting. It becomes more structured and formal, and even precise in a business setting, which facilitates the process of work. Apart from the task, language skills are also important for interacting with colleagues, customers, vendors, and everyone else, both verbally and in writing.

Behavioural Skills

Apart from language, the other equally important part of communication skills is what we convey through our actions and body language and eyes. Just like a ‘picture speaks a thousand words’ a non-spoken gesture conveys more than the spoken word. It is often considered to be the truer of the two. While it is possible to use words different from what you are feeling, as it is a deliberate action, since the body and its parts respond in a natural way to stimuli, there is less room for them to be artificial. This is, of course, true for a workplace setting where people work in close physical proximity, but it is relevant in virtual work as well. True feelings can be conveyed through body language and eye movements.

A person with good behavioural skills will add value to the team, whether to one that does data entry or anything else.

Internet and Research Skills

Taking the computer argument a step further, if it is a computer it must be connected to the internet, the all-pervasive network that connects all computing devices in its embrace, one way or another. Thus, if a data entry person has to work on a computing device, she should be familiar with the internet and possess the ability to do what is called ‘research’ in support of the data entry work she needs to do. Many data entry jobs are done across the world wide web, with data going into a central server instead of being accumulated in small servers around the world and then accumulating as a subsequent step. With bandwidth greatly increasing, most people are now able to work smoothly on systems across the internet.

Another correct answer to the question, “what do data entry clerks do” is “they do research on the internet.”

Number skills

These are an essential part of the make-up of a human being, like communication. Date entry operators don’t need to know differential calculus, but need to have the innate comfort with numbers to identify obvious errors and issues that they come across. Numeracy helps in recognition of patterns. If an operator comes across a date of birth which is, say, 1960, while the hundred he input before this belong to 1990 to 1995, a numerate operator might notice and question and enquire and validate before he goes on, while a non-numerate operator might not. Essentially, it is the ability to handle numbers with ease.

Soft skills

Some use the term soft skills to refer to behavioural skills that we have covered earlier. We have used the term to refer to the other innate skills required by a data entry operator to be successful in a work environment, not merely the ability to get along with other people and communicate with them. These may not be specific to data entry but are equally important for the job. Ability to prioritize, in a multi-task environment, is an important skill, as is time management. These are skills rarely taught, or even specified, but always expected. Soft skills also include an awareness of the organization and its goals and direction and the ability to use them as the Pole Star when you come to a fork in the path and need to take a decision all by yourself, when you are operating virtually and perhaps working late at night.

oWorkers uses a variety of assessment tools at the time of hiring, including typing tests and IQ and EQ tests, to ensure that they are suitable for the data entry job. Our training teams continue to work with frontline staff to ensure that their skills are polished and current. Refresher programs are held for continuous skill building of staff.

As we deliver on client contracts with the help of employed staff and not freelancers, it becomes our responsibility to manage the growth of our staff. Their skills are evaluated and they are assigned to different tasks with the objective of skill-building as well as avoiding boredom in a monotonous job.


The oWorkers advantage

oWorkers has been identified as one of the top three providers of data services amongst all BPOs globally. It is GDPR compliant and ISO certified. It has centers in three separate geographies, offering the possibility of business contingency to clients if they so need. The work you outsource helps us employ more people from disadvantaged communities around the world. We know “what do data entry clerks do.”