Digital Transformation: Put an End to Manual Data Entry

Written by Lindsay McGuire on May 28, 2020

Posted in IT + Security, Workflow Automation

We think 2020 will be a year of digital transformation for organizations all over the world. In this blog series, we cover common workplace productivity roadblocks and how you can overcome them through digitization.

How much manual data entry do you deal with every day?

Whether it’s transferring data from one spreadsheet to another, copying and pasting data between tools, or manually entering data from paper forms into your database, manual data entry still puts a wrench in many people’s workdays.

Does manual data entry set fire to your plans of being productive?

In fact, 60% of workers estimate they could save six or more hours a week if manual data entry processes were automated. Can you imagine what your workday would be like if you could gain back six hours a week?

Let’s take a deeper look into why manual data entry is such a large problem for so many businesses, and the steps you can take to eliminate it for good.


Why is manual data entry a problem?

Although we live in the 21st century, our days are not as automated as most of us would assume. Manual data entry is one of the major productivity pitfalls that costs businesses in multiple ways.

Money
This manual data entry issue is two-fold. First, there’s the cost of employees performing the manual data entry. Second, there’s the impact of improper manual data entry on revenue. Research estimates that incorrect data costs businesses at least 30 percent or more of their revenue.

The 1-10-100 data entry rule also clarifies the cost of manual data entry. It states that it costs $1 to verify data accuracy at the point of entry, $10 to clean up or correct data when it is in batch form, and $100 or more for each record if no action is taken.

Time
It’s no surprise that manual data entry involves a large investment of time. The average worker types between 40 and 60 words per minute. To put that into context, let’s say you’re manually entering data from paper registration forms. If each form averages about 400 words to enter, each form would take you between 8 and 10 minutes to complete. Registering just 12 people would take about two hours of time.


Manual data entry can easily take over your day.

Data
The accuracy of data takes a rather large hit from manual data entry. There’s an average error rate of 1% in manual data entry, which may not seem like much. But consider how many records your company maintains and how often data has to be entered between systems and records.

That extrapolates to a huge impact across systems, especially when you consider the average business uses 123 different software tools. It’s unlikely that all of these tools can automatically integrate data, equalling even more opportunities for data entry mistakes.

long form tipsDid you know? An Experian survey found that 83% of organizations see data as an integral part of their business strategy, yet 69% say inaccurate data continues to undermine their efforts.

Productivity
Manual data entry takes precious time and brain power away from employees, minimizing their productivity and hampering their time management. In fact, 62% of employees identified three or more major inefficiencies or bottlenecks in their business processes that could potentially be solved with automation. These issues make employees lose focus, take time away from more important projects, and limit creativity.


What causes manual data entry?

Manual data entry does not discriminate against industries, verticals, business sizes, or locations. It’s a poor data management process that plagues organizations across the world.

Here are some of the top offenders that lead to manual data entry:

  • Tools that don’t integrate
  • Gathering physical signatures on documents
  • Integrations that are not bi-directional
  • Paper forms
  • Using different tools for different teams
  • Fillable PDFs

How to end manual data entry for good.

If you’re tired of inefficient data processes derailing your day, there are some steps you can take to eliminate this productivity pitfall from your workday. The suggestions below can help your organization identify where manual data entry is happening and how to end it for good.

Audit your software, systems, and processes.
You need to have a full scope of where manual data entry is happening to be able to dig into ways to eliminate it. To begin, perform an audit of all your software, systems, and processes to see where, when, and why manual data entry is necessary.

Are there processes that could go from paper to digital? Do you have tools that are not used to their full capabilities? Is there a better way to connect data across your software and systems? An audit will answer these questions and give you a clear picture of what needs to be updated, changed, or fixed.

Connect with your IT team.
A major cause of manual data entry is tools that don’t integrate well or at all. Oftentimes, there are issues with data syncing across common workplace tools, like CRMs, marketing automation systems, and finance software. When these systems can’t share data, you’re forced to manually export and import spreadsheets, copy and paste data, and wade through different tools to create one report.

Connect with someone on your IT team to investigate which tools are causing breakdowns in your data management. Are there ways to integrate your tools, either with a native integration or an integration software? This can eliminate a lot of your data entry issues, as well as help keep your data accurate, clean, and up-to-date.

Example: The Keys to Successfully Integrating Your Marketing Automation and CRM</p>

Look for complimentary products.
There may be instances where integrations between products are just not possible. This could be because the products or solutions are too expensive, the integrations are too much work to create, or the systems simply do not integrate.

In these situations, you may want to consider investing in software that provides complimentary products that work together without any code or development work. Look for platforms that provide an array of tools that sync together out of the box to avoid needing to manually enter data between tools. This will also minimize the risk of creating “orphan” SaaS tools: software subscriptions you are billed for but do not use.


Formstack has a full set of products that work seamlessly together to eliminate manual data entry.

Understand that eliminating manual data entry is an investment.
Whether you’re a team member trying to convince upper management to improve data automation or an executive leader pitching the idea to your peers, it’s important to understand that eliminating manual data entry is an investment.

It’s not only an investment of money, but of time, talent, and resources as well. It will take all of these areas to bring your organization through a digital transformation, but the ROI will be well worth it in the long run.

Although it will seem like a large investment at the beginning, you will see a balance between costs and savings as you begin implementing changes. You may invest in new software but cancel others; a large chunk of employee time might go into creating new processes, but it will eventually free up time for all employees; IT resources may be reallocated, but this ensures systems are set up correctly from the start.

Related: Minimize Manual Data Entry by Eliminating Paper

Create standards across your organization.
You can spend a lot of time eradicating manual data entry, only to see it creep back in within a few months. To avoid a breakdown in your data entry automation plans, ensure all teams and departments have a clear understanding of expectations.

Here are some ways to create standards for data automation across your organization:

  • Centralize data storage to one location.
  • Use the same products and tools across all departments.
  • Train employees on new processes, tools, and systems.
  • Eliminate all paper processes.
  • Create data automation procedures and best practice documentation.
  • Ensure teams have visibility into all tools, software, and systems.
  • Audit data automation systems, processes, and tools every 6-12 months.

Improving Data Automation is Key to Success

With the right data automation in place, you can say goodbye to manual data entry for good. Save your organization hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars while improving employee productivity and engagement. The power is in your hands to eliminate manual data entry and make your workday more enjoyable.


Looking for a solution to your manual data entry issues? Watch this video to see how to tackle this frustrating issue.