How to Successfully Organize Your Data Entry Processes
One of the biggest determining factors of a successful data entry project is the design of the data entry process itself. Professional data entry experts always have a well defined data entry process, but for those outside the data entry field, it may be daunting or even impossible to successfully organize your data entry process.
But fear not, in this article, we’ll go over all the steps needed to successfully organize your data entry process. By the end of it, you’ll be able to either A) ensure accurate and efficient data entry through a properly organized data entry process, and B) know when to reach out to an expert for advice.
Let’s dive right in:
1. Your Data Entry Project Management Team
Step one towards creating a well organized data entry process is having a well organized team. There are 5 tasks/positions you’ll need to account for:
- The Data Entry Clerks
- The Data Organizers
- The Data Entry Supervisor
- The Project Manager
- Anyone Who’ll Be Interacting with the Data (Your Financial Team, Clients, Your Data Analysts, Etc.)
Now, it’s important to note that your team may not all be in house, in fact most organizations will have a mixture of in house and outsourced tasks for their data entry project management team. Common parts of the process to outsource include the Data Entry Clerks, Data Organizers and Data Entry Supervisor, though you could outsource every aspect if you wanted to!
When choosing your team, if you decide to go in house, you need to ensure each member is trained adequately in their responsibilities. These responsibilities, and thus the training, will vary greatly for each position. For example, a Data Entry Clerk will need to be skilled at efficient and accurate entry of various sources of data. They may need to read cursive and messy handwriting as well.
A data organizer on the other hand will need to know how to clean, merge and check data for quality. This is an important task which requires a good amount of prior experience and/or training to ensure it’s done correctly.
If you’re on the fence about outsourcing part of your data entry process, you may want to consider the cost of training and man hours spent on the tasks and compare that to the cost of outsourcing. You may be surprised to find that outsourcing the work is both more affordable and more accurate!
2. Testing Your New Data System
Once your team is in place, it’s time to test your new data entry system. During this stage, your data entry supervisor, data organizer, and project manager will put the new data entry system through its paces, testing your procedures, software, and hardware before implementing the new system in a live environment.
Once the new system has been thoroughly tested you can move on to the next step.
3. Imparting Data Entry System Training
At this point, you still aren’t ready to adopt your new data entry process. Another important step before adoption is to ensure everyone who will interact with your data is properly trained, and/or if you’re outsourcing, that you select a the best firm/expert for the job.
There are 5 major things to take into consideration here:
- Practices and Guidelines
- Data Standards
- Manual Data Entry
Training your own team is a topic worthy of an entire post on its own, but we’ll try to cover in a summarized way. For starters, you’ll want to choose which guidelines and data standards you’ll be following. If you plan to outsource any part of the new data entry process, you’re best bet will be to use the standards and guidelines they recommend. The only instance you may want to change is if your industry requires specific guidelines to be followed.
From there, you need to cover manual data entry (if you’re doing data entry on site, instead of outsourcing) and troubleshooting. These two are often going to be bundled together for on site operations as many of your errors may have to deal with the manual data entry process. (e.g. is this an “e” or an “a”?) Training your team on what to do in these situations will help preserve data accuracy.
Lastly, you need to establish a rock solid logging/reporting process. Training your team on how they’ll generate and share reports is both crucial from an efficiency standpoint and from a security standpoint.
4. Tracking the Data Entry Pathway
Now we start getting into the quality assurance/quality control part of your data entry process. Luckily, this step is fairly simple! All you really need to do to track data entry is to create a daily “audit trail”. This will include details of each day’s work, along with the person who completed it. If you’d like, you can also have a “vetter” double check the work at this step, ensuring that values are in agreement, and work was completed accurately.
5. Saving Data: Creating Backups
One of the most crucial steps in any data entry process is to create data backups. This step, if done improperly or ignored can have catastrophic consequences. There are two major considerations when creating backups: security and compliance.
Security is the first concern. You’ll want to ensure that your security is top notch as data breaches can be costly both in reputation and in revenue. This can be ensured through destruction of physical copies, and server hardening.
In some cases, just following security best practices is enough to meet industry regulations. But, that’s no excuse not to review your industries regulations and ensure compliance! One you’ve checked whether your data backups and storage are compliant it’s time to determine backup frequency.
The more frequently you backup your data the better. Daily backups are ideal, but for some smaller organizations a weekly backup may do. No matter what, you need to backup your data at least once a week.
6. Consolidating Data: Merging Backup Files
Finally, your data entry process ends with the merging of all data files at the end of each project. Many times, your data will be entered on different dates and stored in different folders and thus different backups. Merging these all into one master file will ensure that all data is easily parsed for information and centrally located.
This step will dramatically speed up the time in which your team or your customers interact with the data as they won’t need to search for the individual locations but can search within the master file.
It’s also a great opportunity to perform one final check for data integrity!
As with anything involving data entry, the more organized the better. That certainly holds true for successfully organizing your data entry process. These 6 steps are just an example of one way in which you could organize a data entry process, but your needs, and thus your process, will vary depending on industry, size, the types of data, and other factors.
It’s always best to consult with an expert before putting something such as your data entry process in place, the insight they may provide could save you countless man hours and even substantial money whether it be in the form of fees avoided by complying with industry regulation or just costs avoided by better optimizing your process. Click here to speak with an expert on data entry.
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