In the bad old days of data capture, before automated processes came along and sped everything up exponentially, data entry operatives were tasked with inputting the raw data by hand. This process was dull, laborious and not particularly accurate, but remarkably, it’s still being employed in some quarters today. So, what is life like for today’s data entry operatives? What challenges do they face during the course of an average day, and how do they affect the study they’re contributing to?
The thing that most people fail to realise is that data entry operatives aren’t usually employed in that capacity full-time. Our data entry operative – let’s call him Greg – is employed in his firm’s research department, but when he turned up this morning the boss told him his services would be needed elsewhere. Greg wasn’t particularly happy about being reassigned as a week playing data entry operative was bound to put him behind in his work, but he was prepared to help out however he could. A stack of data waited for him – an eclectic mixture of online forms and handwritten surveys. It was Greg’s job to input that data into an online database, all of which took him away from his regular research projects.
By midday, Greg was thoroughly sick of manually inputting data, and his concentration was beginning to wane as his stomach growled its dissent. Greg picked up a form, covered on both sides with scratchy, unsure handwriting. With a sigh, Greg began unpicking the bewildering natural language, attempting to extract some kind of meaning from the text. Did that say ‘7’, or was it an exuberant ‘1’? Greg used his instincts and went with 7, but he couldn’t be sure. Lunchtime couldn’t come soon enough.
That day was one of Greg’s colleagues’ birthdays, so for lunch they all decamped to a local pub for an hour. After a pint of lager and a hearty pub lunch Greg was feeling pretty drowsy, but he knew he had to retain his focus – the stacks of data awaited. Greg sat back down to work, feverishly flicking through the documents and feeding the information into the company’s database. Little did Greg know it, but he was making numerous mistakes along the way. His eyes on the document he was reading rather than the screen in front of him, Greg bungled the odd typo here and there. There were several other occasions when he failed to decipher the handwriting correctly and put in the wrong term.
Matters weren’t improved when Sarah came and talked in great detail about her birthday plans for the weekend, distracting him to no end. This was a Monday and Greg was on data entry duty for the remainder of the week, and you can imagine how upsetting it was for him when a cleaner that night shuffled his papers around. When Tuesday arrived, he couldn’t be sure which pages he’d taken the data from, and which he hadn’t. Unbeknownst to Greg, some pages were missed completely from his diligent data inputting, whilst others were put in twice, skewing the data with repeated information.
While Greg tried his best, it’s safe to say that his attempt at digitising the company’s data was far from accurate. Of course, Greg is a figment of our imagination, but his story is illustrative of the reality for many data entry operatives in the UK. Manually inputting data takes a long time, it pulls resources away from where they’re needed and provides enormous scope for human error. Instead of encouraging a scenario like Greg’s, make the most of our range of automated data capture services and enjoy accurate, cost effective data for your study, audit or research project this year.