The professional world now runs on data. Businesses need massive amounts of data to understand their customers, analyze their efficiency, and remain competitive with the other businesses around them using data analytics on a regular basis. Unfortunately, unless your data acquisition methods are entirely automated or purchased, you’ll be relying on repetitive, manual data entry to store and organize these data points.
You’re almost certainly losing time to this process, so what’s the best way to mitigate that loss?
Key Factors for Time Loss
First, let’s understand why and how data entry can be a time waste. After all, data is still important and can make an organization more valuable.
Time loss usually happens due to:
- Process issues. Sometimes, the problem is in the process. You might have an unclear system of priorities for your employees to follow, or an informally documented process that leads to confusion and redundancy upon entry.
- System issues. Other times, the issue is with a system. Some systems require weeks to months of employee preparation—especially when you’re transitioning from one system to another. If the system is hard to learn or counterintuitive, it can make the process much murkier and vulnerable to errors.
- Data issues. Your data entry may also suffer if the quality of your data is too low. There are many potential issues here, including inconsistent formatting and low-quality sources, and any of them can affect your employees’ efficiency in entering that data in a central system.
- People issues. Finally, you may have a problem with the individual employees doing the work. They may be unproductive, unfocused, or ill-equipped for the job.
How to Stop It
So how can you prevent time loss in your data entry?
- Automate what you can. First, try to automate anything and everything you can. It’s certainly possible to write a script that performs the work of a data entry employee—at least, in most fields—and by and large, it’s more the most cost-efficient path. Automation is faster, cheaper, and most importantly, less prone to errors, so long as it’s programmed correctly.
- Make a consistent process and document it. For the data entry requirements that you can’t operate, make sure you create and formally document the correct process for entering it. This will make it easier and faster to train new employees, and all employees will have equal access to the centralized guidelines for how data entry is supposed to work. This will lead to greater efficiency and consistency across the board.
- Train and monitor your employees. Don’t just assume your employees know how to follow the guidelines; invest the time upfront to supervise them and make sure they follow those guidelines properly. Beyond that, you’ll want to invest in monitoring software, tracking their communication habits, data entry habits, and overall time expenditure. You’ll be able to tell which employees are most efficient and which ones are struggling, and you’ll be able to take preventative or reinforcing action accordingly.
- Observe your system’s performance, and consider upgrading. Finally, pay attention to how quickly your new employees take to your system, and if there are any pain points associated with it. If you find there’s a flaw or UI hiccup in your system, you may need to consider upgrading or switching systems. Though it might be a short-term pain, it will save you time in the long run.
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