Written by Allie Delos Santos
Accurate and organized data is essential for companies looking to make informed decisions, respond to evolving business landscapes, and build strategic goals. But high error rates, unoptimized processes, and large data volume burden many companies that have in-house data management.
Coping with their need for accurate data requires companies to find solutions to problems related to in-house data entry. Outsourcing data entry projects may be the right answer to these issues.
This article explains data entry outsourcing, including how to start and factors to consider.
Getting Started with Data Entry Project Outsourcing
Data entry outsourcing is the process of subcontracting encoding activities to outside providers. These companies that outsource data entry partner with an external provider who handles tasks including but not limited to; transcribing documents, claims processing, data management, invoice data entry, product inventory, and more.
Outsourcing providers use several tools to speed up the data entry process, allowing companies to release their employees from non-growth-related tasks and concentrate on core business concerns.
But when it comes to data entry projects, you must take key steps to ensure success in outsourcing.
Determine Your Needs
There are a number of data entry projects that companies can outsource. Some of the most common admin work that businesses outsource include:
- Catalog data entry
- Online form billing
- Word processing
- Payroll data entry
- Email processing
- Transferring of information
- Database management
Getting the most out of your data entry outsourcing initiative means being clear about the projects and services you need help with. Knowing exactly what you need allows you to save on costs.
Having a clear idea of what you need to outsource, you can keep some tasks in-house that your internal team can accomplish more effectively. For instance, if you need more help with data cleansing than with database management, outsourcing the former makes more sense than spending money on both functions.
As you probably know, reducing costs should not be the only reason for outsourcing data entry. Letting quality be jeopardized in exchange for affordability is not a good way forward. Rather, ensuring quality guarantees that your operations are running smoothly.
With faster turnaround times, fewer errors, and an overall better data entry process, you will see a stark difference in the final output that reaches your customers when you outsource your data entry projects. Additionally, ensuring quality will positively affect your in-house staff’s satisfaction, especially if they have to collaborate with the outside team.
It’s important to remember that going for quality in data entry projects outsourcing does not mean paying abnormally high fees. It does mean conducting thorough research about potential providers.
Be Aware of Legal Requirements
Regarding data entry project outsourcing, you must ensure your provider complies with industry regulations and laws. Ensuring legal compliance can be more challenging when your vendor is based abroad. That’s why it’s wise to know your legal requirements before moving.
The first thing on your list should be your local laws concerning data protection guidelines, tax statuses, and wage policies. Keep in mind that the authorities may not account for the party doing the work. Your own company is responsible for the way you manage the process.
Get to Know How to Calculate Costs
Make sure you compare the cost of outsourcing and insourcing before committing. Many factors contribute to the way outsourcing companies structure their fees. These factors include:
- Scope of services
- Turnaround time
- Skill level and experience
- Reference history and portfolio
- Ease of working together
Consider these factors to ensure successful data entry project outsourcing. Keeping these in mind lets you know whether a certain provider is worth the price.
What to Look for in a Good Outsourcing Provider?
Success in outsourcing data entry projects mostly boils down to the provider you work with. Ensure that the business process outsourcing (BPO) company’s culture and goals align with yours. Pricing should not be the only determining factor.
It also pays to check whether the provider has experience working with other companies in your industry. This enables you to assess their knowledge about the processes in your sector. Lastly, you’d want to partner with a fully funded vendor to guarantee stability over the long term.
Here are other qualities you need to consider when choosing a back-office outsourcing service:
- High-quality infrastructure and staffing
- Proven work history
- Financial stability
- Timely and open communication
- Reasonable pricing
Also, consider the provider’s location. Should you go for a provider within your region or across the globe? Hiring onshore and offshore companies has its share of pros and cons, which must be included in the equation when choosing a provider.
Steps to Take When Searching for a Service Provider
Organized and error-free data is one of the keys to taking your business to the next level. However, managing data day-to-day is a time-consuming task for any growing company. Similarly, running an in-house data management team with full-time encoders is labor-intensive, taking away significant time that could be spent on more profitable activities.
For these reasons, companies are using outsourcing. When outsourcing data entry services, it helps to take the following steps to find the best BPO provider.
Define the Scope of Work
Before you begin scouting for vendors, you should first know what you need from them. This involves a scope of work document. If that becomes too technical, which is not uncommon for data entry, then consider answering the following questions:
- What are the specific activities you need to outsource?
- What challenges are you currently facing, and what’s the best possible solution?
- What are your quality expectations and standards?
- How much can you spend on outsourcing?
By answering these questions, you can build a clear plan for outsourcing data entry projects. Remember that outsourcing initiatives are not a plug-and-play solution, so you should be clear about your requirements.
Establish a Budget
If you are looking for high-quality service, anticipate that it may cost more than average, though still likely much less than a large in-house team. Lay out and finalize all the details of your data entry outsourcing initiative before making a move. When you start negotiating with a vendor, clearly state your budget and see if they can offer a pricing structure that fits your requirements.
Once you figure out your scope of work, you can begin looking for BPO companies that fit the bill. Shortlist three to five providers and rank them based on these factors:
- Experience with complicated projects
- Technology access
- Technical competence
- Skills and talents
- Recruitment and training process
Although frequently overlooked, technical proficiency is crucial for a successful data entry outsourcing project. Avoid working with providers that only know a few technologies – especially if they are outdated. The more tools they are proficient with, the better.
Assess Their Market Reputation
The last thing you want is a BPO company that constantly misses deadlines, does not collaborate well with your staff, or worse – your customers. That’s why assessing your prospect’s market reputation is imperative before committing. Background check is easy to do in today’s highly connected world.
You can use many platforms like Clutch and GoodFirms to get to know your provider better. You can learn about their previous clients’ experiences and what they say. You may also contact the BPO provider and conduct a short interview to learn more about their experience.
Keep Your Data Protected
In an era where cyberattacks have become more sophisticated, you must ensure that your provider has the necessary infrastructure to keep your private data safe. We recommend creating a nondisclosure agreement for both parties to sign.
Additionally, your service provider should conduct frequent audits and implement regular upkeep of servers and networks. They must also have the newest software to keep your data safe from compromises or leaks, both externally and internally.
Look for Someone Flexible
A final item to consider in data entry outsourcing is flexibility, which pertains to more than just pricing. The BPO agency should be agile enough to provide for your needs or rectify your requests at short notice. This is even more important when you operate in different time zones.
How to Save on Costs When Outsourcing?
There are several reasons companies should outsource data entry. Outsourcing any data entry project includes scalability, cost-saving, improved quality, enhanced efficiency, and increased business focus. Reaping these benefits requires companies to look for an excellent BPO provider and establish a good relationship with them.
Strive to be insightful about your needs and identify whether each activity should be outsourced or kept in-house. Neglecting quality to save on cost is terrible as it will cause more expenses later. Take note that your back-office operations are the foundation for your front office.
That said, you can safely lower expenses related to data entry project outsourcing by:
- Considering whether offshore data entry is more practical than a domestic workforce that costs more to train
- Transferring part of your in-house team to the external provider’s location
- Selecting a country or location that has a competitive advantage in the function you want to outsource
- Establishing better relationships with your provider and negotiating the price
- Using conferencing apps to collaborate instead of going to your partner’s location
- Only recruit as many operators as you need
The Bottom Line
The result of your data entry project outsourcing depends on how you and your provider navigate through your partnership. More importantly, the BPO company you decide to work with must be dedicated to giving you high-quality support and services. With the right BPO partner, you can simplify your transition from in-house data entry to outsourced services.