Subscribe to my newsletter EDM News
Re-keying data is never acceptable
23 March 2015, by , in Data Management, No comments

One of my data management commandments is that data should never have to be re-keyed. That is, once data has been entered into a system (e.g., the customer has completed a form online, or staff has entered data into a spreadsheet), that data should never have to be re-keyed again. Once data is in electronic form, it shouldn’t need to be re-keyed. I call this re-keying “data entry redundancy.”

But too often I find data entry redundancy in the associations I work with, and it is especially common in the accounting function. Over the years I’ve worked with several associations where key financial data was entered into the AMS, then exported into a spreadsheet, only to be re-keyed into the financial management software. The reasons for why this was happening are not as important as the reasons why this is a bad practice. Here are three reasons why data entry redundancy is very bad practice.

  1. It’s redundant work, which by definition means it’s inefficient. In other words, it’s taking you more time than it should to manage the data because it’s being entered more than once. That means it’s costing you money.
  2. It increases the opportunity for error. Every time data is entered there is the chance that it will be entered incorrectly. So re-keying data, by definition, doubles your chances of data being entered incorrectly. (And in some cases I’ve seen same the data being entered three separate times!)
  3. It’s an audit trail nightmare. As every finance department knows, during an audit, backup work for any transaction can be requested by the auditors. When the same data is being entered multiple times, tracking that data back its source becomes exceedingly difficult.

In my experience, most often data is being re-keyed because no one has taken the time to figure out how to automate the data collection or data transfer process. For example, for the vast majority of AMS systems, financial data coming out of the AMS can be exported into a spreadsheet that can be imported into the most common financial management software systems.

So look around your organization. Is data being keyed more than once? If so, you need to figure out how to make eliminate that data entry redundancy.

About author:

Leave a Reply

Archives

Sign-up for EDM News

 

 

Testimonials

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
%d bloggers like this: