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How to reduce data entry errors?

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  • How to reduce data entry errors?

    It's interesting to me that you brought this up. My client recently started a new product line. Responsible persons insisted that the order system be bypassed. Rather than enter the parts, and new orders manually, a spreadsheet from Japan was used to upload into the system. This was six months ago, and we are still trying to recover from this debacle. Dave

  • #2
    How to reduce data entry errors?

    Our organization does have some applications where initial entries are keyed into a "holding" database. At some point after this, another individual (usually with more authority) reviews the entries for accuracy and changes the status to allow the entries to continue processing through the system. HTH - Lee.

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    • #3
      How to reduce data entry errors?

      When accuracy or accountability factors are high, we have processes in place to either verify or approve the intial data entry. I've never heard of double entry. We're a medical environment too, so our requirements can be considerable. Quite honestly, the less data entry the better. The human factors are the least controllable aspect of any system. Scan your source data rather than keypunching it (if possible). Where data entry is unavoidable, intelligent defaults, clear screen layouts and logical business process sequencing are all important. At a field level, use check digits, cyclic redundancy checks, and use colour and messages clearly and consistently. Give your clients some input into the screen designs too. You'll get some excellent tips. More importantly, you'll get better buy-in and a greater sense of control and responsibility from them.

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      • #4
        How to reduce data entry errors?

        Always add lots of edits to programs. Allow prompting on important fields for help text. Store options in tables. Do not allow incorrect entries. Compare entries to the tables, if not there, do not update, but display error message. This will dramatically reduce the errors. In my case, adding a few edits to one program reduced an annual error count from 2000 to about 6.

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        • #5
          How to reduce data entry errors?

          When designing a database, use constraints and referential integrity. This helps weed out some of the errors in data that even a programmer can introduce. For entry out on the plant floor, sometimes posting standard entry items as barcodes that can be scanned can reduce time and errors.

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          • #6
            How to reduce data entry errors?

            "Responsible Persons" at my last employer insisted they could throw out the AS/400 and run the business entirely off a PC Server with badly chosen and not well supported software. Last I heard, the system was crashing due to disk overload on incoming EDI orders and they were frantically deleting sales order data that was only 6 months old off the system. Pretty hard to run sales history reports I would think when your data is on backup tape from 6 months ago! So much for "responsible persons" -- glad I'm outta there!

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            • #7
              How to reduce data entry errors?

              Iím old enough to remember central keypunching and key verifying by a second person. Iím curious. What are you doing today to reduce data entry errors where programmed reasonableness checks can not detect all the errors? Are some of you still requiring a second person to key the data in and verifying it against what the first person has keyed in? Iíve been under the impression that data verification needs dropped dramatically when end users started entering their own data rather than sending it to be centrally keypunched. However, if the data is critical enough are some of you still doing something to require that the data be entered by a second person and then comparing it to what the first person entered? Final question Ė what else are you doing to reduce data entry errors?

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              • #8
                How to reduce data entry errors?

                All good answers. I would only add that at some point you can't program for keying errors with users who don't understand the system in the first place. The key is good training and making sure everyone is on the "same page" of understanding the process. As a programmer I find my most difficult task is creating then explaining why we need good screen edits. To simply state the obvious to "protect the data". Many times users have no concept of the downside to there errors which can have a ripple effect from accounting to manufacturing. Automating some processes works, but it comes down to the person who first keyed in the data to start with. If it get's past us...then we need to do our homework a lot better and insist that edits be done clearly and easily.

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