Effective Strategies to Avoid Common Data Entry Errors

Effective Strategies to Avoid Common Data Entry Errors

Published By : salientprocess November 8, 2023
Effective strategies to avoid data entry errors

Errors are an unavoidable part of manual data entry. These tasks require employees to add, edit, and verify electronic data.

A team member might update a spreadsheet to reflect the day’s sales figures, type up a transcription of a presentation, or turn a handwritten document into a digital file. Unfortunately, humans are prone to mistakes, so these manual processes will eventually contain errors, which often require more resources to correct. The further along these errors get in your workflow, the more they typically cost.

While manual processes will never achieve perfect data entry, you can minimize mistakes with some targeted techniques. The right data entry automation technology can go even further and help you get closer to an error-free workplace.

Common Data Entry Errors

Data entry errors come in a few different types, depending on where and how the error occurs:

  • Transcription and transposition errors: Transcription errors include typos and duplicated or omitted information, while transposition errors refer to swapped numbers or letters. Catching these problems is crucial because they can create ripple effects if used to make other decisions, such as when calculating totals.
  • Formatting and unit errors: Formatting and unit errors occur when the information entered doesn’t use the proper style for the dataset. For example, one date might be entered as “01-01-2023,” and another is entered as “01/01/2023.” Computerized systems can quickly get confused when formats don’t match. Similarly, entering one measurement in inches and another in centimeters could cause problems. Standardized data is especially important when you use it with digital tools.
  • Source errors: Even when an employee enters data perfectly, it might be inaccurate if it comes from a poor-quality source. One common example comes from entering out-of-date or duplicated data. Ensuring high-quality, up-to-date sources and a streamlined workflow helps to avoid these problems.

Different technologies and processes address these issues, so you’ll need a holistic approach to your data entry to avoid them.

5 Ways to Reduce Data Entry Errors

From evaluating your employee’s work environment to implementing end-to-end automation, you can dramatically reduce errors through your data entry processes. Here are some of our top suggestions on how to reduce errors and increase quality of work.

1. Create a Supportive Work Environment

Even the best employees are likely to make mistakes if they’re not completely focused. Fatigue, for instance, causes issues like decreased awareness, reduced information-processing ability, absent-mindedness, and a lack of attention.

Focus on creating a work environment that promotes employee health, such as encouraging breaks. Even small changes like comfortable chairs and wristpads can help improve worker health and reduce errors.

One of the most valuable changes you can make to the work environment is maintaining sufficient staffing levels. Rushing your staff to meet unachievable deadlines could lead to more errors. Your team must be appropriately sized for the workload, so you may need to hire more people or implement automation tools to reduce the workload, which we’ll discuss later.

2. Validate Your Data

Data validation monitors your data for errors and inconsistencies. This process might check the entered data against certain rules, such as:

  • Data type: Validation systems might identify when text is entered in a position that should contain numbers or vice versa.
  • Range: You can also flag values outside of specific ranges, such as a percentage field with a number outside of 1-100.
  • Format: Identify data that doesn’t adhere to a specific format, such as a date or price.
  • Uniqueness: Look for duplicated fields where two of the same values cannot occur, such as user emails or phone numbers.
  • Null: Flagging blank fields helps ensure complete data capture.

Validation is a quick and valuable process that can catch many errors before they cause more significant problems. 

3. Continuously Evaluate Your Performance

Implementing new technology and processes is a great start, but you can always strive for continuous improvement. Track error rates and efficiencies to gain insights into your environment and monitor your team’s success. Look for error-prone areas, such as specific tasks or employees. Then, you can investigate and tweak your approach to ensure high accuracy at all times.

Eliminate redundancy in data entry

4. Eliminate Redundancy

Duplicate information can be confusing and inefficient. Say an employee creates an updated version of a spreadsheet but doesn’t delete the original version. If another team member thinks the outdated version is current, they might make poorly informed decisions from that data. Redundant data could also be the result of unnecessary data entry, such as two workers inputting information from the same document.

Preventing and removing duplicate information is essential for avoiding errors and keeping data as accurate as possible.

5. Implement Modern Automation Technology

Automation tools excel at monotonous, repetitive tasks, so they’re perfect for data entry. You can automate specific tasks or entire processes to take advantage of unmatched accuracy and allow your team to focus on more important things.

Today’s sophisticated systems can capture data from nearly any source — including unstructured or variable paper documents — and analyze it with the help of technology like artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning. Automatic data entry can eliminate hours of manual tasks and save on costs with improved accuracy.

Data Entry Positions that Benefit From Automation

Any team member that spends time manually entering data can benefit from automation. Some common roles that can take advantage of data entry automation include:

  • Data entry clerks: A data entry clerk updates and adds information to electronic systems like databases. Automation can help these employees catch errors and process more information. A robust approach to automatic data entry can even eliminate many tasks related to capturing data and allow the worker to focus on updates and corrections.
  • Transcriptionists: Transcriptionists turn audio files into text, working with content like interviews, medical reports, and TV shows and movies. A sophisticated automation system can dramatically simplify this task, creating text and entering it into relevant databases.
  • Medical coding specialists: These specialists evaluate medical notes to generate codes used in billing and recordkeeping. Insurance companies use them to determine reimbursement, and other providers may use them to understand a patient’s history. Automation can help improve accuracy with various tools for validation and speeding up data capture.
Capture your data with Salient Process data capture automation

Capture Your Data With Salient Process

Data entry is a crucial component of many workflows, but it is inherently error-prone. At Salient Process, we help organizations avoid data errors through automated Business Architecture. We’re an IBM Premier Business Partner and a leader in Digital Business Automation. From our versatile Capture tool to robotic process automation, we can craft an automated solution tailored to your company’s needs.

Whether you want to automate one task or take a more holistic approach with end-to-end systems, our experienced team can help. Get in touch today to learn more about our solutions and get started with Digital Business Automation.