Industry Views


April 19, 2019

Data entry is often done by the junior members of staff in accounting firms. And while the level of accounting experience required is reasonably low, this is an extremely important piece of work. If the numbers go in wrong, they’ll come out wrong, and correcting mistakes costs you time/money. If mistakes like this are seen by customers this will be bad for business.

Brian Griffin

So who should do this important work? The perception might be that using a qualified accountant for data entry tasks is an expensive option. The truth is that hiring an unqualified person that works in a different office to do your data entry is really the expensive option… maybe even a very expensive option. Let us explain.

Let’s say that you have a member of staff (somebody with a formal accounting qualification) that manually enters invoices, receipts or bank statements into your accounting software. And let’s say that they are being paid at the rate of $25 per hour.

This work isn’t especially difficult and a person without an accounting qualification could be trained to do this job very well. You could probably find somebody to do this work at a far lower rate of pay, let’s say $15 per hour.

If our maths are correct, that means that you are paying $10hr more for the qualified person, but this is misleading...

Data entry people: Qualified staff V’s Unqualified staff V’s Outsourced staff

A breakdown of the different attributes associated with this work

Internal Team - A Qualified person

While this cohort appears to be the most expensive option, they require minimal supervision, communications are easy because a) they are physically in the office b) they are a part of the team and c) they are qualified in the area and so any changes needed will be fast and straight-forward.

When the pressure is on with a deadline is looming, they know that they need to put in that extra bit of effort to get things done. Quality/Standards of the data categorisation will be consistently high. The ability to use good judgement in real-time is valuable here.

Internal Team - An Unqualified person

As with the qualified person, this cohort will be a part of the team and so communications will be easy. With that said, if they have limited experience in this area they are going to need some hand holding (at both the on-boarding phase as well as when it’s time to up-skill).

Quality will be reasonably high as they will have been trained by your internal team, but unqualified people will not be able to use the same level of judgement as in the case of qualified accountants.

Outsource the work

With regards to the rows in the table above dealing with quality, accuracy & deadlines… the reality of outsourcing is that work is done at volume with an emphasis on timeliness. Quality/Accuracy can be added to SLAs (Service Level Agreements) but there will be initial growing pains when it comes to accuracy. It is a lot easier to get that flexibility for last minute deadlines from an internal team, and so outsourcing this work might make this flexibility less attainable.

There will be nuances in your business that an outsourcer will not understand and the likeliness of getting it right first-time will be reduced. Some data will get categorised incorrectly.

Outsourcing staff will not develop “the feel” for what is required as much as an internal member of staff will. Some clients leave their submissions to the last minute and they might use different terminology in their communications, outsourcing staff might misinterpret this and data may get categorised incorrectly.

The verdict

While using a qualified accountant to do your data entry might sound expensive, it is in fact the cheapest and best option. While some consider data entry to be of lower importance, it is in fact an important role to get right. Getting data entry wrong or not managing it efficiently can damage relationships with customers and that can get very expensive, very quickly.

Our advice

Continue to do this work in-house… just spend less time doing it!

The good news is that AutoEntry has been built specifically for accountants like you and so every document type, every task has been thought through and developed for. AutoEntry can, for some document types, fully automate the capture and processing of your data entry, this is the promised land, this is where we want you to be.

Automate your data entry with AutoEntry. Free trial [here].

Brian Griffin