What Is Data Entry? Your Questions Answered

What Is Data Entry? Your Questions Answered


Data entry could be considered as the bedrock on which the edifice of the digital world stands. Of course, the assumption here is that digitization or virtualization is a beneficial, desirable activity for humankind. At the present moment, with the mad race for digitization and everything virtual being touted as man’s saviour, we don’t have a reason to believe otherwise.

Data entry definition, as provided by Dictionary.com, is “the job of entering text or other data into a computer, as by typing on a keyboard or scanning a document.”

Techopedia offers data entry definition as “the process of transcribing information into an electronic medium such as a computer or other electronic device. It can either be performed manually or automatically by using a machine or computer.”

Though most data entry tasks are time consuming in nature, however data entry is considered a basic, necessary task for most organizations.

The data entry definition may vary from person to person, but the key constituents are similar.

While in the modern world data entry is almost exclusively seen in the context of machines and computers, data entry perhaps precedes the introduction of computers and machines into widespread usage.

Possibly, when the Pyramids were being built several thousand years back, there was someone keeping track of the number of stone blocks that were transported by each team during the day, which he would record as a tally mark on another block of stone. This would help him arrive at the total at the end of the day and work out the payment to be given to each team. In his own way, without computers and machines, that gentleman was doing data entry in his own little accounting system instead of trusting his memory to remember the information or the team to come and own up to the right number at the end of the day.

At the most basic level, what is data entry doing for us? It is helping us collect or organize information. Not just randomly collect and organize information, but do it in a manner that it becomes useful for the purpose it is being collected.

Through his version of a data entry process, the onsite manager/ accountant of the organization building the Pyramids had created a method for collecting information that was helping him manage his business and deliverables.

Data entry, thus, becomes a tool in the pursuit of management of goals and deliverables. The information our Pyramids onsite manager/ accountant was entering on a stone block, might be keyed into a tablet or a handheld device at the construction site of, say, a bridge over the Yellow River in China.

What is data entry could possibly be difficult for some people to understand. What cannot be difficult to understand is that oWorkers has been consistently ranked in the Top 3 providers in the world for our chosen area of expertise, date entry services. oWorkers delivers over 99% accuracy on client projects across a wide cross-section of measurement systems.


Data entry process in the modern world

We will limit ourselves to data entry in the present times where the purpose of data entry remains the same, to collect relevant information together in a manner that it becomes actionable and amenable for further processing. However, almost exclusively, data entry refers to a process through which it is taken through a computing device and eventually becomes available to the digitized world for further processing.

There are many ways in which this process can be dissected for a better understanding.

It could be divided into online and offline data entry. Online data entry directly interfaces with a database on the internet and updates the main database directly without going through intermediary processes. Offline data entry refers to a step where data that needs to be entered is keyed into a system that is not connected to the main database and then subsequently uploaded into the main database. This could be used in cases where there are security concerns about operators directly accessing the primary database, accuracy of data, etc. In this case too, the data entered is in a format that is compatible with the main database and does not need further manual inputs.

It could be divided into manual and automated data entry. Though as a default the term data entry is used in context of manual data entry, data entry can be automated as well. For example, the organizers of a conference would like to maintain a transcribed copy of the discussions at the conference. There are Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools now available that would convert the discussions into text for future reference. Of course, the accuracy of these tools is suspect and it may need a once-over by a human being. Manual data entry, hopefully, does not need explanation. It is the default meaning of the term data entry.

It could be divided based on the type of data which needs to be data entered. For example, raw data could be in the form of an audio file which is the recording of a seminar and needs to be manifested in textual format for storage and analysis and retrieval. It could be a handwritten file in the form of an image that cannot be read by a computer and needs to be converted into a textual file for all further processing. Or, it could be manual data records maintained over many locations by different people which now need to be consolidated into a common database. It could even be an image on which annotations need to be done.

Types of data entry systems could also be another way of understanding what is data entry. The target system could be a standard application software like an MS Excel or MS Access which can handle a wide variety of uses, or it could be a function-specific application that are for specific functions; an applicant’s job application may need to be keyed into the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) while an Invoice received from a supplier will need to be entered into the Accounting system of the company.

Like the data entry definition itself, which is expansive, classification of data entry is also open-ended and cannot be defined by a fixed set. There could be many more ways in which we could look at the data entry process in an effort to understand it.

Whichever way you look at data entry, oWorkers has a ready solution for it. With three centers in some of the most desirable BPO locations in the world, we are able to provide data entry services in over 22 global languages. Other than GDPR, which is a requirement, oWorkers is also ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified and operates with facilities & protocols that are secure. We also ask that each member of our staff sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before access to client data is provided.


Types of Data Entry?

Looking at various types of data entry can also help in understanding what is data entry.

The remit of data entry is vast. Limitless. It can be contained within a finite set of activities. The list below is meant to be illustrative, and not comprehensive. And the requirement could arise in any industry or business or organization.

Guest comments and ratings – Shared by guests at checkout from a hotel need to be captured to track client satisfaction levels as well as employee performance

Insurance claim forms – Filled by a policyholder for filing a claim needs o be captured to facilitate processing and recording

School admission form – Completed by parents needs to be captured so that student data is available and can be actioned as per profile and preferences

Discussions in a meeting – Needs to be captured in text format to facilitate retrieval and keyword related searches

Participant list at an industry event – Needs to be captured as it constitutes a potential client list for the business

Golf scorecards – Need to be captured to track golfer’s performance and his accurate handicap

Medical prescriptions – Need to be captured for ease of retrieval, sharing as well as search by keyword

Invoices received – Need to be captured as a record of payments issued by the business

Though types of data entry may be infinite, they are brought together by the same drivers; the need for capturing information in a usable format that will facilitate future processing on a suitable software and lend itself to process improvements as and when the need might arise.

With oWorkers, clients get a partner well versed in the science of data entry, having executed hundreds of projects for global clients. Data entry for Ecommerce products, Invoices, Customer orders, Civil Records, Books. Legal notices, Forms for Healthcare, Banking, Insurance and many other industries constitutes our body of work and experience.  


To outsource or not to outsource the data entry process

Though this debate has been held on numerous occasions in meetings in many businesses, the outcome is increasingly becoming obvious with more and more organizations opting to outsource data entry to a provider.

While each organization has its own unique perspective on the subject, given below are some of the salient advantages and disadvantages of the decision to outsource, so that future decisions may be better informed:


Focus on core business – The need for data entry can arise in any industry, in any type of organization. Companies can be engaged in a bewildering array of businesses, specializing in their area of work and trying to excel in it. Data entry is perhaps not one of the skills that makes them stand out from the crowd. Moreover, the need to excel in an additional skill, and even understanding what is data entry, may take attention away from their core business, resulting in losing ground to competition. By outsourcing data entry, the business stays true to its objectives and mission.

Lower cost – In most cases, data entry requires limited prior experience and no advanced educational qualifications. This results in resources available to do data entry being relatively less expensive than specialists in other businesses that often require experience as well as educational qualifications. Outsourcing providers have access to talent pools that will readily do data entry and enable the work to be handled at a lower price.  

Benefits of scale – By aggregating similar processes, vendors create an environment where innovation becomes possible as a result of scale. With their individual small volumes, each outsourcer may not have adequate interest in investing for technology enhancement, but a provider, with aggregated volumes, does. If he can create enhancements to technology or processes, the gain is substantial because of the volumes.

With a pricing model that is transparent, oWorkers provides a choice between rate per unit of output and rate per unit of capacity and is able to share the benefits of scale with its clients. It also leverages developments in technology through its partnerships with a number of technology providers.


Quality and accuracy – With BPO being a global business, the search for the best arrangement could take a business away from its cultural and geographical roots. This could result in the vendor and their staff not being in a position to appreciate and understand the cultural underpinnings of the business which could lead to taking wrong decisions impacting on quality. Addressing this will perhaps require greater investment in training as well as a tighter monitoring regimen.

Processor boredom and burnout – One of the factors that makes it possible to outsource business processes is that they can be broken down to a level of detail where it can be performed repeatedly, almost mindlessly, without the need for any significant knowledge or prior experience. The factor for success also becomes a disadvantage on many occasions. Being blessed with a mind, operators can become disillusioned and burned out as a result of doing the same thing over and over again.

Lack of control – Whether labor practices followed by a vendor are in line with global best practices or not, whether there is adequate data security that keeps our content safe and Intellectual Property (IP) uncompromised, are there likely disruptions that could arise as a result of local politics, are just some of the ways in which an outsourcer could have a feeling of being not fully in control of his business.

The requirements and rhythm of data entry often being different from the business for which it needs to be done, outsourcing of data entry is the accepted norm, to BPO companies specializing in the task.

Unlike many competitors, oWorkers operates with employed staff, and not freelancers or contractors. This places upon us the responsibility for managing the growth and aspirations of our staff. Each staff is appraised on performance and has a personalized development plan. Staff are also provided opportunities to switch between projects for growth as well as keeping them fresh.

Moreover, many of our clients being in Western Europe, we are culturally closely aligned with them, reducing the gap for errors to creep in.


The oWorkers Advantage

oWorkers is trusted by clients from around the world in different industries, including unicorn marketplaces, web aggregators and tech start-ups.

We operate as a locally registered company in all our delivery locations. We are active, contributing members of our communities and a preferred employer. Our hiring costs are low as we attract a steady stream of interested jobseekers. We are also able to ramp up by almost a hundred people in 48 hours to meet short-term client requirements.

The data entry work you outsource to oWorkers will enable a few more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to understand what is data entry, find jobs and become a part of the digital revolution sweeping across the world.

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