To tackle inaccurate data, first you must know its source. For most companies, the main source is human error. Research shows that when things go wrong, the reality is that system users are the ones responsible for most data inaccuracies.
#1 Lazy estimates
If you need to add up several numbers or don’t have a precise figure on hand, it’s tempting to make an estimate instead of calculating an accurate figure. This tactic won’t affect inaccuracy if it’s used sparingly, but if your staff get into the habit of estimating figures, it could significantly skew your results.
#2 Delayed input
During busy periods, staff may delay data entry until hours, days or even weeks after the paperwork was first ready to be added to the system. Employees may easily forget details, acronyms, or other information by the time they come to enter it.
#3 Unclear abbreviations
Using abbreviations and short-cuts in your software is all well and good as long as your employees remain the same, but what if a new employee starts, or another employee has to fill in for your usual data entry staff member? You must ensure that there are notes explaining any abbreviations and provide training to new hires to limit confusion.
#4 Paper forms
Construction companies still have to deal with paper forms on a regular basis. You have to deal with occasionally indecipherable handwriting, damaged forms, and essentially double the data entry – and twice the chance for errors to creep in.
#5 Poorly designed forms
All forms, whether paper or digital, should be designed to maximise data quality. That means using drop-down menus when the field can only take a handful of values, allowing users to choose a ‘not applicable’ option, and ensuring field descriptions are clear and consistent.
#6 Information in wrong field
Even if your fields are labelled clearly, a staff member in a hurry could accidentally enter data in the wrong field. To reduce this risk, use error messages to warn users if they’re trying to enter the wrong data format – such as a string in a field that should only have integers in.
Overall, eliminating human error in data entry is impossible. Even if you take every measure possible to reduce the risk, there’s still bound to be one mistake in, say, every 10,000 entries. However, by decreasing the number and proportion of data entry errors, you can limit their impact on your figures and reports.
If your current accounting system uses poorly designed forms that hamper data entry, consider upgrading to construction-specific job costing software for more accurate data and reports.