While the data entry process may seem simple enough, it can take up a lot of your precious time and resources
This is why companies are increasingly turning to freelancers. Read on and find out how handing this task to a freelancer can help reduce your data entry load and improve employee productivity.
What is data entry?
Every company collects information. Once you've got that information, you need to organize and store it in a useful format. Data entry is simply transferring this information from one source to another source. It could be entering information from ink and paper invoices into a CRM, updating a spreadsheet with accounting data or collating answers from a survey. Anytime you need information collected and transferred from one medium into another medium, you need data entry.
Data entry work you can hire a freelancer for
Basic typing jobs
Word processor data entry
Form filling (online)
Editing and formatting
Correcting and re-formatting
Image to text
Audio to text
Payroll data entry
Web system data entry
Why you should use a freelance data entry expert
As we mentioned, data entry is crucial for any business. But, it's also time-consuming and takes your attention away from higher value activities. Handing your data entry tasks to a skilled freelancer delivers some great tangible benefits.
You will not incur any extra costs by outsourcing your data entry requirements to a freelancer. You are paying for exactly what you require. In other words, by not having dedicated employees for data entry work you are paying only when the work happens. Moreover, you don’t incur any overhead costs like office space, equipment, employee insurance, etc. In fact, there is a possibility that by hiring an efficient data entry freelancer, you might end up lowering your data entry costs altogether.
The freelancing industry is extremely flexible in nature. For example, you may be generating data during your business hours and you require it to be entered before the start of the next business day. In such a scenario, you can hire a freelancer who works in a different time zone to suit your requirements. It's nearly impossible to get such flexibility with a full-time employee without paying for overtime.
Data entry is one of the most common types of freelancing activities. Because of high demand, most data entry freelancers are industry experts. In other words, they're well versed in the data entry requirements of a particular industry and are likely to have developed relevant software skills as well. Hiring the services of such an expert freelancer for your data entry requirements can ensure accurate and reliable end results.
Yes, data entry is an extremely time-consuming activity that can be highly repetitive in nature. However, it is essential and can’t be put off or ignored. By keeping your employees engaged in this task you can actually lower their productivity levels. They could be contributing positively to your business instead of spending their work hours in data entry activity. Therefore, when you take the data entry tasks away from them, you are actually increasing their productivity levels.
No micromanagement required
Once you've defined the data entry project requirements and made sure that the freelancer has understood them clearly, you just have to wait for the final product. There's no need for you to spend your time micro-managing the project or calling for periodic reviews.
It's important to remember that most freelancer data entry professionals are experts in their field. Also, they are well aware of the fact that their next project will be heavily dependent on how the current one will be completed and delivered. Therefore, this ensures that they pay the required attention to detail and deliver a perfect result.
How to find a freelance data entry expert
Data entry specialists are usually industry experts. However, their true strength lies in ensuring that the data entered is free from error and is accurate. Even the most minor of mistakes can prove to be apocalyptic for your business. So, make sure you follow these basic steps for hiring the right data entry freelancer to achieve the best results,
Write a detailed project description
Begin by floating your requirements around. Make sure that all the important aspects of the project are covered in the description. Be as clear and specific as possible. Remember, most freelancers can get interested in your project if they can relate to it. So, don’t forget to include your sector and industry.
Write a couple of lines explaining the nature of your business before you jump onto the actual requirement. Also, make sure that you mention the timeline that you have in mind for the completion of your data entry project.
Shortlist your candidates
Once your requirement is posted, you may end up with a variety of freelancers bidding for your data entry project. At this stage, it is important to conduct a few levels of filtration before you arrive at a shortlist of suitable candidates.
You can filter profiles in a variety of ways, such as:
Location: If you prefer to work with someone in the same or time zone as you, or at least one close to it, you can sort your candidates by their geographic location.
Experience: Yes, it's repetitive. Yes, it might even be mundane. But make no mistake: Data entry is a skilled task. Both speed and accuracy are essential, and these two come with time and experience.
Portfolio of work: Reading through the freelancer’s reviews and past work will tell you about their experience and customer satisfaction rates. The work portfolio will also let you check their industry expertise.
Software knowledge: Knowledge about basic software like word processing, spreadsheets and other document management systems is essential. Basic computer skills are a must.
Communication skills: This refers to written as well as verbal communication. The data entry freelancer will be required to communicate with you or your teams during the course of the project. Poor communication skills can lead to mistakes.
Typing speed and accuracy: Every data entry project revolves around speed and accuracy. One without the other is useless. Therefore, your shortlisted candidate must be capable of delivering error-free work within the preset timeline. Normally, a typing speed of 30–40 words per minute is acceptable.
Budget: Freelancer rates can vary from one individual to another. Therefore, before you assign the project, make sure that the selected candidate sits well within your budget.
Challenges to keep in mind
Businesses are constantly on the lookout for freeing up their resources by outsourcing their tedious tasks. No doubt an experienced freelancer can manage the job at a fraction of the cost as well. However, it is important to keep these potential challenges in mind before hiring a freelancer and outsourcing your data entry work.
Time zone difference
There is always a possibility that your preferred candidate might not be in the same time zone as you. It can result in different working hours, and it can result in delayed communication. Make sure that you set some ground rules before assigning the project. For instance, have preset and periodic reporting and assessment times in the initial phase of the project that work for both of you.
Data entry as a process may not require language proficiency. However, the entire project can be put in jeopardy if you and the freelancer can’t communicate clearly with each other. Therefore, it is important to avoid getting stuck in such a situation. In other words, make sure that you are completely satisfied with the communication skills of the freelancer before assigning the project. If required, begin with a small part of the project and then assess the freelancer based on the outcome.
The importance of data security
It's logical to be concerned about the security of your data if you're handing it to someone outside your organization. You need not worry too much if the data is important but not confidential. However, if the nature of your data is such that you must maintain high standards of security, then take necessary precautions before you share it with the freelancer.
You can enter into a legally-binding agreement with the freelancer making sure that the data will be held securely and will not be distributed without prior permission. An NDA or a Non-Disclosure Agreement can be signed by the freelancer to ensure that they keep the information to themselves. It's important to take such measures in the beginning. As you continue working with the same freelancer, you can enter into a more blanket agreement and build a level of trust.
More and more large organizations are turning to freelancers to handle their business processes, and there's no reason why your business shouldn't benefit from the trend. It'll free you and your team up to focus on activities that produce revenue.
Keep in mind to start small when handing data entry to a freelancer. It is always a good option to try the services of the freelancer by giving a small project in the beginning. It can be taken as a pilot project to ensure that both of you are on the same page before the real work begins. If all goes well, you'll have found a valued team member who makes your business more productive.