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January 30, 2019

4 Things to Consider before Outsourcing Data Entry

The manual process of moving data collected on paper into an electronic system is one of the most costly and time-consuming processes maintained by organizations today. According to data provided by Gordon Flesch, Inc., across the U.S., “companies spend more than $120 billion on printed forms, most of which are outdated within three months.” While data entry is a critical component of most businesses, antiquated systems and inefficient practices place significant burdens on staff. Oftentimes, these organizations turn to remote data entry services as a way to control internal costs and eliminate tedious, time-consuming work.


Many sources preach the praises of data entry outsourcing, promising that it will reduce overhead expenses, enhance productivity, and help your organization focus on core business activities, but this is not always the case. While outsourcing the work of data entry may appear to be a quick and easy solution on the surface, it is not without its drawbacks.


The main concern of data entry outsourcing is the risk your organization has to take on when you release your data to an external organization. Outsourcing your organization’s data entry work can expose your financial, HR, and client data; provide inconsistent quality outputs; and delay the completion of deliverables. Relying on offshore labor may seem cheap and easy, but it often takes longer than expected and, in the end, requires additional time and money to revise.                                                                                                                                                                                                        ​

Most of these risks are non-starters for organizations working to maintain HIPAA, PCI, or other state and federal compliance regulations. So, how do you choose between costly, time-consuming internal data entry and risky, low-quality outsourced data entry?


Find a third option!


Many organizations have found that turning to workflow automation tools for data entry and management is the answer. Initially, taking the time to automate your manual or paper-based systems may seem like a scary prospect, but consider this: eliminating paper workflows means spending less money paying skilled workers to perform menial data entry tasks when they could be innovating for your company.


Wondering how to make the switch? Here are four things you can implement across your organization now to reduce the amount of time and money spent on data entry and eliminate the need for outsourcing.


1. Migrate your clients to electronic documents.

A quick and easy first step towards automating your data entry process is to move your clients from paper to electronic forms, surveys, and documents. The information shared by your clients is incredibly valuable to your organization, but paper files are easily lost or destroyed, and after data is collected, your skilled staff has to spend valuable time entering information into a database. Once your electronic documents are crafted, filled out, submitted, and stored entirely online, your staff will no longer need to navigate multiple screens or handle cumbersome paper forms when entering data. When data is collected electronically, it can then be uploaded and stored electronically as well.  


Electronic documents will not only save time for your staff, but for your clients as well. Your clients will appreciate being able to sign contracts, send payments, and share other types of data electronically instead of having to mail or hand deliver paper documents.


2. Pre-populate using data you already have.

If you’re already using a tool such as a customer relationship manager (CRM) or a human resources manager (HRM), the information you’re housing could prepare your documents for you! Your CRM, HRM, or other software is an important part of your company’s data entry process and may even perform basic functionalities—like preparing the reports you need for you—but your staff still has to spend a lot of time entering data and keeping it up-to-date. Make sure that your data isn’t just sitting stagnant in a warehouse. Start using it to pre-populate the documents you send every day or trigger document creation when new records are created within your software.


Some industries—such as law and real-estate—are required to work with a lot of paper documents. Even in these cases, automation is possible and you can use the data you already have to save time by populating tedious, recurring fields in documents like contracts and invoices.


3. Automate your emails with digital workflows.

Reviewing and sending emails to share data with clients and coworkers consumes a lot of your employees time. The average office worker spends 2.5 hours reading and replying to emails every day. Establishing automated workflows allows you to use your data to send emails with attachments such as contracts, applications, invoices, letters, and more. In most cases, you can set a trigger so your emails (or a chain of emails) are sent off with your organization’s branding when a specific event occurs.


Additionally, automated workflows reduce the need for your staff to switch back and forth between manual tasks—a problem which has been proven to cost employees a whopping 40% of their productivity. Bottlenecks often result from needing to gather data across many locations, halting productivity and reducing efficiency. Automated workflows can eliminate the burden staff experience in the management of information.


4. Integrate with your current resources.

You may decide that your current tools don’t meet all of the needs of your organization and decide to implement a new product on top of or in conjunction with what you’re already using. If that is the case, make sure your new tool integrates easily across all of the platforms being used in your company. When all of your processes are interlinked, your team can remain flexible and efficient, positively affecting the bottom line of your organization.  


Start making changes today!

Making the move to automated data entry may seem a little daunting, but these four changes can help ease your organization into processes that will increase productivity, reduce cost, and eliminate the need for skilled workers to complete menial work.


WebMerge can make your data automation transition a lot easier by pre-populating tedious documents, automating workflows, and integrating with the tools you already use. Start the shift to automated data entry today with a free trial from WebMerge!


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