Is Manual Data Entry…dead?

December 7, 2023

NEMT transportation is a data-rich industry. Names, addresses, insurance, private pay…it can seem endless and impossible to get organized. Often as transporters, we let the job of data entry weigh us down. We believe wholeheartedly if you want a job done right you need to do it yourself. This mindset leads us to enter all of our information by hand, in some cases with pen and paper, and sometimes, incorrectly. 

There are many data entry options available to us as transporters. Many of these options are free, some are paid once, and some have monthly fees. However, none of these options will matter if you have not been able to convince yourself (or your company leaders) that you need help moving away from manual data entry. The following are all ways manual data entry slows your business down. Use this list to help yourself and your company identify how your operations would be improved by moving away from manual data entry. 

Time is Money 

You probably spend countless hours every day manually entering data from trips. Transferring information from the trip sheets you gave to your drivers into manually typed information can take up a huge chunk of your time that may be better spent on something else. Data entry forces you and your employees to allocate time towards short-term goals every day, rather than your company’s long-term goal. 

Of course, you can choose to hire an outside company to enter your data, or you may even hire an employee solely dedicated to data entry. Both options come with a cost. Almost any solution you may consider will come with a cost, the trick here is to get the most for your money. 

Let’s say you hire a full-time data entry employee who works on manually entering data. If it takes about 4 minutes to enter all the data for one trip into the system, and there are roughly 4,000 trips each month, this employee is spending 16,000 minutes, or about 267 hours each month doing manual data entry. Now, if we do the math on that, your new full-time employee will need to be working over 60 hours a week to complete this one task. 

So now you’re paying a full-time salary plus overtime – not to mention any other additional benefits your company may offer. When you hired a data entry employee, you knew their primary function would be entering data, but wouldn’t the cost of this employee be better spent on someone who could do more than one task for the company?  

Mistakes in data entry can cost you BIG 

Have you ever received a birthday card from an older relative who wrote with such calligraphic cursive that you had to call your mom to have her help you decipher their handwriting? Imagine dealing with that kind of headache at work every day. If your company is still doing manual data entry with pen and paper, there is a chance that you or someone else in your company is dealing with this every day. 

If your company is already pressed for hours in the day, chances are you’ve not been able to train data entry employees as adequately as you’d like. Inadequate training of data entry employees can lead to; illegible handwriting, copy and paste errors, misinterpretation of wording, misspellings, and more. The repercussions for any of these errors occurring can be debilitating for your company.  

Manual data entry does not allow for data validation. As we covered earlier, you’re already asking your full-time data entry employee to work 60 hours a week in order to just enter the data. You cannot expect that one person to also go through all the data with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it is all without error. Without data validation, you could be sending drivers to a bad address (the wrong city listed, the wrong zip, street instead of the road, etc.); you could have insurance information incorrectly listed, which could lead to not being paid correctly, and so on. 

Manual data entry also does not assist your company with compliance. Complying with the regulations for any industry is a crucial part of a company’s success. Especially in the NEMT and paratransit industry, failure to comply with state and federal procedures can have a very serious impact.  

Paper trails can fall apart very easily 

When all of your data entry is done by hand with pen and paper, you need to make and keep physical copies of every trip in case of an audit. If you were to be audited and did not have a solid paper trail, or you do have a paper trail but it’s filled with incorrect data, you could end up looking at a very large fine. Unless your company has enough space to store many, many large (and preferably fire proof) filing cabinets, these copies could be easily lost or destroyed.  

Help your drivers 

When on the road, the last thing your drivers need is to be deciphering someone’s handwriting. Or imagine they happen to spill their coffee on the hand written sheet you gave them and now they have to call in for every piece of information for the day. Even accurate information is useless unless it is readily available to those who need it. 

Manual data entry is one of the most inefficient ways to keep track of your organization’s data. It is time consuming, costly, error ridden, and even when done to the best of its ability it is not nearly as effective or efficient as utilizing software to assist you. 

If you’re going to begin your search for a software solution for data entry, it’s important to find a solution that will help you in more than one way. Most transportation software’s are robust and can offer you more than one tool in their costs. You will want to see if the solution you’re considering can offer you data validation and assists in industry compliance. For example, if a software you’re looking at is not itself HIPPA compliant, it will not be able to make sure YOU are HIPPA compliant. 

Remember that a good software could be an investment and that is something you will need to seriously consider with your company but it will be worth it when you’re ready. 

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From the beginning, RoutingBox has remained committed to removing barriers for transportation companies attempting to provide access to healthcare and community services. Now, we want to help you.