Did you know that last year there were 20,000 pregnant men in Great Britain? Why wasn’t this earth shattering news? Because it was a data entry error. If you input data into Excel on a regular basis, or you hire people to do that for you, you know that there are going to be mistakes.
When people are sitting for hours typing in numbers, they can easily transpose numbers or input the wrong data. Wrong data can lead to serious problems. Make your data entry process easier and you’ll have fewer mistakes.
Types of Errors
Transcription errors: People make mistakes when they are typing fast. They hit the wrong key and don’t notice. They input the information in the wrong way, they don’t spell a word properly, or they just make a typo. They type the same information in twice. This can also happen when using optical character recognition (OCR) programs, if there are errors on the paper, or the ink is smudged and can’t be read properly.
Transposition Errors: This is a remarkably common mistake when people are typing in numbers. Instead of putting in 2367, they put in 2376 or something like that. People who are typing quickly and inputting many numbers are going to eventually make these kinds of mistakes.
How to Reduce Data Entry Mistakes
You will never be able to eliminate these kind of errors, but you can reduce the amount of mistakes. Having someone else proofread or double check the work is invaluable. We always catch other people’s mistakes much easier than our own. That is why publishers have proofreaders. Even the best people start to miss their own mistakes after staring at a computer screen for a long time.
- Provide a good working environment for those who do data entry. People have to be comfortable and healthy to do their jobs. Make sure you outfit them with ergonomic chairs, desks and equipment.
- Provide breaks for your staff. This kind of work may be simple, but it is also mundane and repetitive and that leads to inattention.
- Allow proper deadlines. Rushed work is never perfect.
- Many companies are outsourcing their work overseas. It may be cheaper, but can you trust the accuracy of the work?
- Consider using software such as a PDF to Excel Converter to lighten the load of your data entry staff. Whenever you have data already on paper, it is easier to convert it to a spreadsheet and work with the data once it has been moved to Excel. You will save yourself or your staff a lot of typing. That means fewer errors and more time to evaluate, analyze or work with your numbers or statistics.
Sending invoices or ordering supplies with the wrong amounts is going to cost you money. Messed up statistics can ruin your research. There are many things that can go wrong if errors are made in your data management system.
Data entry in healthcare is extremely critical. At the beginning of this post, we mentioned the statistical error published by the National Health Service in England. Researchers who reviewed the data found that a single keystroke could cause this kind of error. That was a funny example, but in reality healthcare data requires extra attention to detail. Electronic health records are under a lot of scrutiny. A data entry mistake could be life threatening when it involves patient care.
Whatever form of data your company manages is important to your business. With the move from paper to electronic content management, there is more data that needs to be transferred. It’s worth implementing a system of checks and double checks and using innovative solutions to make your data entry easier and less prone to errors.