What Is a Data Entry Clerk and Why Do You Need One ?

“A person who works in an office, dealing with records or performing general office duties” is how Cambridge dictionary defines the word “clerk.” As per Wikipedia, the word clerk ‘is derived from the Latin “clericus” meaning “cleric” or “clergyman.” The association derived from mediaeval courts, where writing was mainly entrusted to clergy because most laymen could not read. In this context, the word clerk meant “scholar”. Even today, the term clerk regular designates a type of cleric (one living life according to a rule). The cognate terms in some languages, e.g., Klerk in Dutch, became – at the end of the nineteenth century – restricted to a specific, fairly low rank in the administrative hierarchy. Clerical workers are the largest occupational group in the United States. In 2004, there were 3.1 million general office clerks, 1.5 million office administrative supervisors and 4.1 million secretaries. Clerical occupations often do not require a college degree, though some college education or 1 to 2 years in vocational programs are common qualifications. Familiarity with office equipment and certain software programs is also often required. Employers may provide clerical training too. That defines a clerk. And it seems that a lot of people are clerks. But, what is a data entry clerk? Thus, a clerk who either performs data entry as one of the general office duties assigned, or is required to do data entry as a primary task, could be called a data entry clerk. Many organizations have also moved beyond the term ‘clerk’ and use other terms like operator, agent, staff, etc. The logic seems to be that ‘clerk’ has come to be associated with a certain position or level on the organizational ladder and they perhaps wish to avoid that. We will, however, use these terms interchangeably. oWorkers works with a range of professionals whose primary job is to do data entry on various projects. As a specialist data services BPO operator, oWorkers has been identified as one of the top three BPO services providers in the world.  

Who needs a data entry clerk and why

Data entry is a voluminous activity in the modern world as it races to digitize data. The objective of digitization is to make information available in formats that are compatible with computer systems and software applications. Information that is in a ‘manual’ or ‘hard-copy’ format is difficult to process as compared to information that is available in a digital format. For example, civic authorities maintain information on births in a particular area or municipality. This information has been maintained for a long time and is perhaps stored manually or in a ‘hard-copy’ format, at least the parts that pertain to the past. If one needs to extract information from this database, say, correlate congenital diseases with the month of birth, all records will need to be looked up one by one, manually. If the same information were available on a spreadsheet, it can be scanned and the relevant data extracted in a few minutes. This is why digitization of legacy data is a task that is gaining urgency. Not only does extraction of information become easier, the data can also be shared across different digital platforms at the click of a button. While much of fresh data that is created nowadays is digitized at source, without manual intervention, we are still creating data, for good reasons, that is manual and needs digitization as a subsequent step, like a medical doctor’s prescription, perhaps, which is hand-written in most cases. This is in addition to the legacy data we discussed earlier. This is done through the process of data entry. That is what a data entry clerk is needed for. While there are tools that are now available for the task, their accuracy is suspect. Besides, some legacy information does not lend itself at all to processing by such tools. Like for example handwritten information. Hence, data entry by humans, either completely or partially, is the only solution. As the data is large and varied, so is the need for resources who can do this task. So, the answer is everyone. Everyone who has a data entry requirement needs one. And almost everyone, at least all businesses, seem to have a data entry requirement. Though outsourcing of data entry is popular, regardless of whether the job is being done by inhouse resources or by outsourced ones, the one actually doing it will still be a data entry clerk, or a data entry resource as some organization appear to have stopped using the term ‘clerk’ as it seems to denote a place in the corporate hierarchy apart from the type of work, as discussed earlier. Having partnered with over a hundred clients in their various data entry journeys, oWorkers operates from a proven template, starting with transition. Many of our clients are IT companies, some of them unicorn marketplaces. With GDPR compliance and ISO certifications (2700:2013 & 9001:2015) in place, oWorkers offers you a secure work environment like no other. From across three global locations, we support data entry services in over 22 global languages. Clients don’t need to go looking for more partners for additional languages once they come to us. Our centers, in three different counties, also provide business continuity capability, if required for your business.  

What does it include

The remit of data entry is wide. It encompasses a number of jobs that could be independent occupations in themselves. This makes data entry, though considered to be a simple task from the perspective of skill and knowledge and experience requirement, a complex task as well. At the most basic level, data entry requires an operator to look at information that is currently on a medium that cannot interface with a computer system, and transfer it manually, usually through the process of data entry, to a format which can be accessed and read and understood and processed by standard computer systems. Data entry work could include work that could be online or it could be offline. It could refer to working with property records, insurance claims or climate data. It might require entry of data on Invoices, Application Forms or Patient medical records. It might need to handle manually typed information on Birth records or handwritten information on doctors’ prescriptions (which is also known as transcription). It might require digitization of data on Name cards or Target customer lists created from multiple sources. It might refer to Email mining or to Translation services. They could be performed from home or may need presence at a specified workplace. Some might pay on an employment basis while some could be paying on the basis of volume of work, down to micro units like keystrokes. It could be done by an organization through inhouse resources or it could be done with business process outsourcing partners. So, almost anything is fair game for data entry. Within the wide remit, our leadership team, that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the business, are constantly looking for opportunities for doing it differently and better. They are supported in this endeavour by the independent Quality team that is responsible for continuous improvement in all areas, whether for the benefit of clients or oWorkers. Our clients from Western Europe and the United States repeatedly advise savings of upto 80% after outsourcing to oWorkers. We offer transparent pricing, with the option of dollars per unit of time or dollars per unit of output being both available for the client to choose.  

Who can do the job

As we know, data entry can be of many different varieties. As also seen earlier, a clerk’s responsibility set is wide. In order to get some understanding of what is a data entry clerk and what all he could be called upon to do under the broad term of data entry, it would be instructive to look at the Job Description in a job posting, or even the full job posting, for such a position. We pick up a sample from the web.   “The first step in creating your data entry operator job description involves introducing candidates to your company. You should present the company in an honest, yet favorable light. By displaying the strength of the employer’s brand, you can attract like-minded employees who are more likely to be a good cultural fit. Take the opportunity to make your organization stand out and play up unique features that will make people want to work there. Data Entry Operator Job Responsibilities:
  • Maintains database by entering new and updated customer and account information.
  • Prepares source data for computer entry by compiling and sorting information.
  • Establishes entry priorities.
  • Processes customer and account source documents by reviewing data for deficiencies.
  • Resolves deficiencies by using standard procedures or returning incomplete documents to the team leader for resolution.
  • Enters customer and account data by inputting alphabetic and numeric information on keyboard or optical scanner according to screen format.
  • Maintains data entry requirements by following data program techniques and procedures.
  • Verifies entered customer and account data by reviewing, correcting, deleting, or reentering data.
  • Combines data from both systems when account information is incomplete.
  • Purges files to eliminate duplication of data.
  • Tests customer and account system changes and upgrades by inputting new data.
  • Secures information by completing database backups.
  • Maintains operations by following policies and procedures and reporting needed changes.
  • Maintains customer confidence and protects operations by keeping information confidential.
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.
Work Hours & Benefits Putting information about working hours and benefits in this space is significant for the development of your description. The location is meant to engage the candidate in a way that makes them want to read the rest of the job posting. Present facts about working conditions or requirements, including shift work, weekend work, overtime, and break schedule. Additionally, be sure to mention any special benefits or incentives that your company offers to employees, such as a dog-friendly workplace or remote work opportunities. Data Entry Operator Qualifications / Skills:
  • Organization skills
  • Quick typing skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Computer savvy
  • Confidentiality
  • Thoroughness
  • Education and Experience Requirements:
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Data entry experience or related office experience
  • Some basic computer courses may be preferred by some employers”
With that as the template, it might initially seem that we are looking for a superman for the job. And indeed, if an individual were to be asked to perform all the various roles at the same time, that might have been the case. Most roles will likely focus on one, of a few, key tasks and hence that is what an individual needs to learn to be adept at it. Of course, over a period of time, she could learn different tasks and progress to jobs that add greater value. The other aspect, of course, is that almost all the tasks are well defined tasks with established control and monitoring systems built in.  oWorkers is a contributing member of each community it operates in. This makes us a preferred employer leading to a steady stream of walk-in applications for jobs. This not only keeps our hiring costs low, but also enables us to hire in bulk to meet short-term spikes in client requirements, which is hugely beneficial for the client’s Income Statement, as it obviates the need to keep resources at peak level throughout the year.  We employ people, and use freelancers only as an exception. We use a variety of evaluation tools when we hire people, including IQ and EQ assessments. We have consistently received feedback scores of 4.6 on a scale of 5 from our employees on Glassdoor.  

Last Word

Business Process Outsourcing in general and data entry in particular, are proven models of generating employment in underserved and underprivileged communities. As a result, governments support BPO players in setting up facilities in their catchment areas so that employment could get a boost. With the long arms of telecommunications technology, which enable the business, now extending to all corners of the world, the benefits of BPO can also be brought to all parts of the world. Your work enables us to engage a few more people from the underprivileged communities oWorkers operates in, and usher them into the digital world. This also has a cascading positive impact on his immediate family and circle. What is a data entry clerk, hence, is important for everyone to know, as it has the potential to lift many individuals out of a life of need.

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