The impact of data entry errors can be disastrous for any business. Even simple data entry errors such as typing an incorrect number or overlooking a line can affect statistical results, lead to wrong conclusions, and upset decision making. Faced with managing mounting volumes of different types of data, many businesses rely on data entry companies to manage their information. Such companies have skilled data entry operators who can ensure accuracy and timeliness. In fact, data entry is prone to different types of errors and professional data entry operators take specific steps to reduce or avoid them.
Types of Data Entry Errors
Different types of errors that can occur when inputting data include:
- Transcription Errors: This mistake usually occurs when entering words rather than numbers. It includes typos, repetition, omission, and other mistakes that occur when you hit the wrong key and it goes unnoticed. This usually happens when a data entry operator has stringent deadlines and a lot of work to complete on that day. Transcription errors can also happen when the autocorrect feature fails. Autocorrect software recognizes a misspelled word, identifies the word that the operator probably intended, and changes the text accordingly. For example, it you type ‘thier’, autocorrect will change it to ‘their’. The problem is when the software changes the context by inserting or changing a word different from what you intended.
- Transposition Errors: Transposition errors usually occur when inputting numbers. This human error occurs when two numbers are unintentionally reversed, for example, 103 is entered as 130, and the mistake goes unnoticed. Transposition in accounting, if not corrected, can impact journal entries, business ledger, financial statements, and invoices. Transposition errors can also result in inaccurate recording of phone numbers, street addresses, or ZIP codes in customer profiles.
- Data Misinterpretation: Numbers can be mistaken for words. For instance, the digit 0 can be wrongly interpreted and inputted as the character O.
- Inaccurate Formatting: This happens when data is entered in the wrong field or column, or entries are missed. Incorrect formatting is one of the most typical issues in the data entry process. Even advanced software can cause inaccuracies. If values are missing, allocating blank values, insignificant substitutes, default values, or the first entry that appears in a box can create inconsistencies in the output.
- OCR Errors: Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology scans images and extracts text from them automatically. Organizations often rely on OCR when they need to digitize large amounts of data. However, if OCR is used to convert large document collections, words may be misinterpreted and characters exchanged. OCR also does not properly differentiate between capital and lowercase letters.
How to Minimize Data Entry Errors
Experienced data entry personnel in data entry companies are well aware of the errors that can occur when inputting data and take care to avoid mistakes. Here are some of the strategies they adopt to reduce data entry errors:
- Finding the Source of the Data Inaccuracies: Reliable data entry operators focus on what they are doing to ensure accuracy. However, when errors continue to occur, they will try to identify the source of the error, which can be internal or external. Inaccuracies in figures and characters and missed information can occur when shifting data from one database to another. Once the source of the problem is identified by analyzing statistics and patterns, it can be fixed by modifying processes and systems.
- Prioritizing Accuracy Over Speed: Speed is important in data entry and operators are often led to complete their work fast to meet a deadline or to earn a bonus. However, maintaining a fast working speed at the cost of accuracy should be avoided. Experienced data entry operators are well aware that invalid or corrupt data resulting from flawed data entry, inaccurate information or incorrect formatting can jeopardize the client’s project. Experts will focus on maintaining data accuracy while getting the work done within the specified time limit. The data entry company, on its part, should reward employees for both accuracy and volume.
- Using Software Tools and Resources: Advanced software can be used to auto-fill correct data, capture documents, and automate workflow. Software can also be used to double check data entry for accuracy. Automated error report tools provide alerts when data is entered wrongly. Modern tools come with risk management features for error reduction, increased accuracy, and improved efficiency and clarity. However, while OCR technology is ideal for high volume projects, it can lead to errors which should be removed manually.
- Performing Quality Checks: Expert data entry service providers will double check all data entries to ensure they are correct. Regular detailed checks can catch errors, allowing them to be corrected in a timely manner. Double data entry is popular strategy to prevent errors. It involves having at least two, but more people inputting the same data and then comparing the digital files to identify any errors or quality issues. Double data entry and/or double checking of data can significantly improve data quality.
Leading data entry companies take steps to ensure a stress-free environment which is critical for their teams to work efficiently. They have stringent quality control processes in place to ensure utmost accuracy in the final output. In addition to training their newly recruited staff, they also ensure that their experienced data entry operators get training to update their knowledge and skills. They make sure that their employees are equipped with the latest tools and fully understand client requirements so that know how to spot potential data entry errors and avoid them.