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Why Manual Data Entry is Bad for Your Business

By Katie Simpson on August 20, 2014
Tags: Productivity

Manual data entry is as outdated as this typewriter. Photo credit: etharooni via photopin cc

Most of us at one point or another have done data entry for work. If you're a manager or a business owner, you know how crucial that information can be. But a mobile app can help you get that information more quickly and accurate, while costing you less. While getting information is crucial, manual data entry could actually be undermining your business. Here's how:

1. Data entry is slow

Manually typing a document up takes time. With an average word per minute (WPM) of 80, a 500 word document takes over 6 minutes. If you work in businesses with long inspections or lengthy surveys, these documents could take an hour or more to be available in your system.

A mobile app allows you to access this information in real time. Fill out your form such as invoice, inspection or checklist out on a smartphone or tablet. Once finished, all information is immediately available in the cloud. You don't have to wait for the information to return to the office, nor the time it takes to enter into your database afterwards. Real time information for businesses working in real time.

2. Data entry is expensive

When I was working in data entry, I was making decent money. At the time, I was being paid $18 an hour. I did more than just data entry, but it was over 80% of my job. So, this law firm was paying me thousands of dollars a year to manually enter data. Pretty expensive work.

My case isn't unusual: Glassdoor reports a median income of $26,000 a year for data entry clerks. This salary doesn't even begin to include the cost of health insurance, vacation, and other benefits.

By switching to a mobile app, you can allow this employee to focus on other critical and more creative tasks in your company. Perhaps they could help with customer service, research, or sales? A mobile app costs a fraction of a full time employee just doing data entry.

You'll save not only time, but also thousands of dollars.

3. Manual data entry can create inaccurate information

When I worked in that law office, I had to often interpret doctor's handwriting. As clichéd as it sounds, I struggled to read their scrawl. The loops and scratches didn't look like English, but some mystifying foreign language only doctors could understand. Often I'd have to squint at it for a few minutes or pass it around the office until someone could decipher it. Even then, we often had to guess what they meant.

No matter your level of education, errors happened. Typos entered my notes, or a name was misspelled. Often I caught them. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if somewhere in this database they have a misspelled patient's name or an impossible date of birth. 

Mistakes occur in data entry. From typos to incorrect interpretations, a second stage in transmitting information allows room for errors in your information. As a business, you rely on this information for a variety of purposes: taxes, maintaining safety and compliance, inventory, and making predictions for your future. A typo here or there doesn't seem like a big deal, but overall these errors weaken your data as a whole.

A mobile app removes the possibility of error from data entry. Clear typed text from the beginning removes any ambiguity that could arise from bad handwriting. Even better? Include calculations, automatic date and time stamps, your own reference data to reduce further possibilities of human error.

Going mobile ensures that your business receives accurate information.

4. Data entry disengages your employees

Yes, I hated data entry with a passion. I realized pretty quickly that it was work that bored me. When asked, the vast majority of my social network responded that the task they hated most at any job was data entry. 

But data entry goes further than that: One study found that data entry clerks had a higher rate of abusing over the counter and prescription drugs. Data entry requires a high level of accuracy, but becomes mindless, repetitive, and therefore difficult to engage. 

By getting rid of manual data entry duties, your employees will be happier and have more time to spend focusing on creative tasks they enjoy. You'll get happier, more productive employees, and perhaps even lower turnover as well. 

Data entry, no one likes it. But switching to a mobile app removes the need for data entry, gets you accurate information in real time. In the long run, you'll have better insights and be able to make the best decisions for your business. 

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