The True Costs Of Manual Data Entry

As a business grows, the need to move away from manually entering and managing data grows exponentially. In this post we describe what’s potentially at risk by putting off automation.

How much time do you spend on manual data entry? Stop for a minute and really think about it. Whilst you are doing this also think about the rest of your business and all the other hidden costs.

Write it down. We’re guessing that number is significant.

Now contemplate this: in a fast pace digital economy where business dealings continue to grow in complexity: 

  • Is your manual data entry going to grow? 
  • Will it be more time-consuming or less time consuming? 

If your answer is yes to both, perhaps it’s time to look at making some changes.

What Are Some Of The Costs?

1. The cost in dollars?

With growing businesses, manual data entry is commonplace. At the start it just made sense, it’s a simple solution and processes could be easily completed. But as time goes on this method becomes less scalable and less cost-effective.

Consider this simple exercise to assess the costs of having staff manually enter data. Let’s presume it takes an average two to four minutes for one staff member to complete a process, like updating an invoice, processing purchase orders, inventory numbers, or recording a transaction. Keep in mind this could take longer for a staff member less skilled or lacking experience.

Take that figure and multiply it by the average number of processes or tasks they would do in a day, that could be 30 a day or 660 a month. Then multiply that by the amount of staff carrying out the task and you have your hourly cost.

With this total figure, think? Would that productivity and outlay be better spent on value add activities and what would this mean to your business if they could.

2. The impact of human error

In 2008, a report from global analyst firm IDC, estimated the cost of human error is costing businesses in the US and UK £315 per employee per year or £18 billion dollars for each economy.

According to a recent report from IDC Intl, it estimated the cost of human error is costing on average businesses in Australia $650 per employee per year.

Then factor in the time spent double-checking information. If each month you’re double handling or worse the information or correcting mistakes is it not feasible human errors could double the cost of data entry.

You also need to factor the tangible costs of fixing mistakes like courier costs for incorrect orders or refunding incorrect orders.

If you add the estimated costs of errors to our previous example the costs continue to climb. So too, the implications of those errors.

How long are you going to retain a client when you continue to mix up their orders?

3. The cost of delay

Entering information manually in to multiple systems takes a lot of time. You spend a lot time waiting for information to be updated at different stages in the process. You also have to factor in that the more systems you have to enter data into are potentially increasing the likelihood of human error.

Now think about the impact on your ability to make decisions about fulfilling new orders or ordering new inventory. Without up to date, accurate information the result could be a loss of revenue and a loss of face with your client.

4. The cost of bad data

A typical data entry challenge that operators run into is missing values. 

Assigning blank values, meaningless substitutes, default values or the first entry that appears in a box can create discrepancies in the desired output. It can be the product of poor training or unfortunately human laziness. But the result is that someone must clean the data. And that means a loss of time and money.

What’s the Solution?

One way to reduce manual data entry is to automate your processes.

The key is to map key processes, find inefficiencies and leverage technology to automate or improve these critical and time consuming manual processes.

Automation requires business choices to be made, key to this change of course is connecting your business systems.

The benefits of a connected system is that it lets you access that crucial information instantly from a single point of truth, on any device, wherever you are. Integration means no more mucking around with data extraction and reconciling conflicting sources; just clean, visible data that offers better, more up-to-date information for quick and accurate decision-making.

If you’re considering killing some of the paperwork in your business, get in touch with us to see which 2% of your activities can be optimised to help deliver 98% of your returns.