Get Rid of Data Entry Once and For All

By katie simpson on March 31, 2014

What task do you hate? Photo credit: Kevin Lawver via photopin cc

Recently I asked a number of my friends what was the one work task they hated. I expected a bit of variety, perhaps cold calling,  making copies, but over and over again I got answers like this:

“I was given the fun job of entering the details of hundreds of cattle (and the sire of each one) into the back end database”

“Literally reading every Dewey decimal code to make sure they were in exact order… Sometimes to 5 or 6 places”

“Data entry was one of the most boring jobs I’ve ever had”

“I did 2 experiments over 4 days and ended up with 7,500 data points that needed to be computed, analysed and finally put into 1 pretty graph.”

Why we hate, but need data entry

We’ve all been there with data entry or data validation. Filling out a spreadsheet with each and every detail, or checking to ensure that someone else’s information is correct. People hate data entry for good reason: it’s a rote monotonous task while requiring an attention to detail. You can’t daydream, or focus elsewhere. The entries feel the same again and again, but each one is slightly different. A few years ago, I worked at a non-profit and had to enter in information of new contacts after events into Salesforce. While each person was entered in a similar way, I had to focus on getting their name, email, address, and other information into our system perfectly. Otherwise, I’d have to go back and correct the information later. 

The devil always hides in the details. xkcd

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Stephen Hawking

While brutal, getting accurate data entry is crucial for businesses long term success. Inaccurate data entry leads to additional time and resources wasted on finding and correcting information.  Bad data entry causes all sorts of blunders. Incorrect calculations can lead to bad pricings for work orders or invoices. Misspelling a customer’s name can lead to an awkward moment in customer service. All of these moments cost time, money, and can undermine your brand.

Today, you can free your employees from data entry and get better data. Instead of entering information on paper, business are now using mobile business apps to collect information. Inspections, expense reports, service tickets, or attendance sheets can all easily be done on a smartphone or tablet. All entries on a mobile app go straight to the cloud. These forms can easily be integrated into systems as Excel, or CSV files. Mobile apps don’t need manual entry. Pick up the smartphone and say goodbye to the miles of excel spreadsheets and hours of careful typing.

Mobile apps provide a win-win situation. Employees enjoy freedom from data entry and organizations have accurate information in real time. More than skipping a step in data transmission, mobile apps also provide more ways to prove accuracy including:

  • Required fields 
    Ensures no one skips over important information
  • Autopopulated fields with an organization’s information
    Add your own inventory numbers, customer names, or site locations
  • Autocalcuations
    Let the mobile app calculate the cost of a work order or estimate
  • Barcode scanning
    Great for easy product look up

These mobile app functions help employees fill out forms more quickly and prevent mistakes. Plus, employees no longer have to worry about handwriting or carrying a clipboard or pen and paper. As long as they have their smartphone or tablet with them: they can fill out the forms. 

Businesses such as Amazon and Netflix are showing that data is king in the 21st century. With mobile apps, you don’t need an army of data entry specialists to compile information. Save your business hundreds of hours, and your employees from this terrible task. Your employees and your bottom line will thank you.