Technique versus technology— profitable keyboard data entry involves using many techniques that have been developed and proven over a long period of time. High tech solutions have less of an impact here. The best systems apply and use many small factors to build substantial increases in productivity.
Ergonomics—Production keyboard data entry uses function keys for specialized features and functions. The whole idea is to minimize hand and finger motion to allow operators to achieve their maximum potential keying speed. It has been proven that the fastest keyers have the best techniques and make the fewest errors.
Image manipulation—Newer data entry systems have features and functionality that let your operators easily manipulate images so that the data can be key entered. For example, efficient moving, zooming, etc., is done with hot keys and not a mouse. The next image should appear automatically and instantly after the last data item is keyed.
Enter versus tab—The big Enter key is under the right hand and is the traditional key typists and data entry operators use to complete fields or lines. The Tab key is needed to advance over data entry fields to some predetermined field. It is a mystery why Microsoft thinks the Tab key should be used to complete fields.
Field navigation—Look for hot keys to go to the next and previous fields, and to the next and previous images. Moving the hands from the home keys to use a mouse is a significant slow down.
Eliminating keystrokes—Features that automatically populate fields with data will reduce keystrokes and increase productivity and accuracy. A special key to duplicate previously keyed data is required.
Skipping optional fields—It should be simple, even automatic, to skip over fields that normally are usually empty.
Instant data validation—Data should be validated as soon as it is entered. Only the right kind of characters should be accepted in a field (e.g., no letters in numeric fields). This validation must be accomplished at the time the key is depressed, so errors can be corrected while the eye is on the data and the finger is on the key.
Extensive field edits—Date validations, range checks, table lookups and calculations are just some of the many edits that can be performed on each field as it is completed. It is crucial to detect errors at the earliest possible time.
Error messages—Errors should lock the keyboard and require the keyer to acknowledge the error message and correct the error.
Double-key verify—The time proven data entry method to ensure data accuracy is to key the data twice, preferably by different people. This process results in 99.99% accuracy. Good data entry systems make this process simple and fast, yet it must be optional for those projects where double keying is not desired. Also, it is important that error correction be easy and safe. Verify error detection must be done at the keystroke level.
Statistics reports—In order to successfully manage the operation you need good reports on operator productivity and errors. The more information you have, the better able you are to allocate costs and ensure that jobs are quoted accurately and performed profitably.
In summary, data entry can be far more profitable for most service bureaus than it is now. When you use the right tools and time-proven data entry techniques you see significant increases in productivity and accuracy. Professional data entry systems are the key to success for service bureaus.