Updating and maintaining a database is an important task and should not be viewed as a responsibility where little or no skill is required. On contrary, a database holds all important customer and internal information for an organisation and thus it is pivotal that the data is accurate and well-maintained.

From a database are produced weekly and monthly reports that assess performance, allowing an organisation clear visibility of how well they are matching customer needs, their trajectory towards meeting targets whilst also identifying things that need chasing up. Without all the necessary data within a database, a company struggles to operate on a daily basis, especially in those cases where there is a database with a back-end and front-end that an organisation and customer use, respectively.

This leads us to conclude that the role of a database administrator is in fact very important and that they should be given the means necessary to perform to the best of their ability.

Undoubtedly, one of the most mind-numbing and arduous tasks for a database administrator is that of manual data entry from paper documents into the database. It is something that cannot be escaped. Once the data is in the database, the fun bit commences of querying and analysing data.

Along with the time-consuming nature of manual entry is that it an error prone process. If somebody is performing manual data entry for 7 hours a day, they may well do it flawlessly for 2 or 3 hours, eventually as their day drags on, it will become repetitive and that is when the likelihood of erroneous data input increases. If there are data errors, the reports and so forth will be anomalous, regardless of how pretty and well-presented they are. A counter-argument to this is the use of the double-data entry method, where the data is entered twice with each entry compared to one another as a means for verification. This may produce accurate data but is essentially doubling the workload.

Fortunately, there is a way around this. Automated data capture is the name given to the methodology whereby data from paper documents are scanned, captured, quality checked, classified and exported to the database without any need for manual data entry.

The technology has been around for a while but has been perfected in the 21st century. Organisations now have the opportunity to access their data in a much timelier manner, almost in real time, which gives them the basis of making decisions and actioning the data in more relevant terms.

Back to our database administrator/data entry clerk, does it put them out of a job? One can easily be lead to think that this is the case, but the answer is in the negative. In fact, the answer is totally opposite. An organisation that takes away the pangs of manual data entry from their administration staff saves them a lot of time. This time can now be spent doing more productive tasks such as analysing the data, formulating trends and patterns and ultimately delivering accurate and timely reports to management that enable an organisation to measure and manage their performance much better. The end result is a continuous cycle of measuring, monitoring and performance improvement.

As is the case with life and business, the only constant is change. From my personal experience, many individuals admit that manual data entry is an issue but are not willing to change. The fear of change is commonplace for us all; however, we must strive to identify new methods of performing better.

The technology to automate processes, which result in streamlined and efficient organisations, is out there. If there is any aspect of your organisations’ daily processes that involves manual data entry, it is time to embrace the technology and use it to provide more value to ourselves and customers.