With growing businesses and especially those dealing with rebates and B2B deals, manual data entry is commonplace despite its inherent drawbacks. At the start it just made sense, it’s a simple solution, sometimes cheap and processes can be easily completed. But as time goes on this method becomes less scalable and cost-effective.
Whether it’s transferring data from one spreadsheet to another, copying and pasting data between tools, or manually entering data from paper documents into your ERP, manual data entry still puts a strain on a team’s workday. Manual data entry is a time-consuming process which costs a lot of manpower to an organization. As humans we naturally make mistakes, but there comes a need in every organization for more efficient data capture which can eliminate any costly errors.
What does the typical manual data entry process for rebates look like?
- Finance team receives details of various deals that arrive via email or paper form for manual processing.
- The data needs to be read, organized and understood.
- The rebate data needs to be accurately entered into the system e.g., typically an ERP system or Excel spreadsheet.
- The rebate data needs to be checked to ensure that nothing has been missed, added accidentally or otherwise misrepresented.
Slow or incorrect manual data entry can lead to negative effects such as:
- Fees for late payments
- Unclaimed rewards for missing early payments
- Cash flow issues
- Inefficiencies if an employee leaves/goes on holiday
- Poor supplier relationships
- Lower potential for business growth
The benefits of transitioning from manual data entry to an automated rebate management system:
Human error is reduced
It is clear that manual data entry is intrinsically prone to errors, especially because the process is longer and more laborious. More than a quarter of accounting professionals (27.5%) reported that incorrect data had been manually input into an enterprise system at their firms. It might be down to a wrong number accidentally entered into the wrong spreadsheet cell which can therefore cause incorrect calculations and further repercussions down the line. Unfortunately, spreadsheets do not have the restrictions and features in place to catch human errors instantly; a study found that 88% of spreadsheets contain at least one error. Automation can prevent or at least minimize human error if it is set up correctly.
Time is saved
Manual data entry takes up a lot of time. More than 40% of respondents to a recent survey said they spend at least a quarter of their work week on manual, repetitive tasks. And nearly 60% of information workers estimated they’d save at least six hours each week if these aspects of their jobs were automated.
Finance teams who calculate, accrue and allocate rebates have to look at the data, enter it into probably multiple spreadsheets, and then double check their work. While these don’t seem like many steps, this does take a lot of time to perform and just as much to check. However, by eliminating the need for manual data entry, organizations can allocate more time to strategic tasks.
Team morale improves
The repetitive nature of adding data into spreadsheets also takes a toll on morale. Manual data entry is tedious, unfulfilling, and causes engagement to plummet which can further impact deal performance over time. The more time an employee spends on low value, repetitive tasks like manual data entry, the less time they have available to focus on high value work that is not suitable for automation. By implementing an automated system that captures all of the data, organizations can free people up to prioritize driving innovation and developing the strategies that will help create better deals.
Reporting and forecasting becomes more efficient
Manual data entry is a time-consuming exercise that leaves little room for activities such as analyzing reports, strategizing, and forecasting for growth. More time is spent on data hygiene than actual data driven decision-making. With older systems, reports show a snapshot of what had already happened, data is aggregated over the course of a month or more, and reports are received on a less frequent basis. Having a rebate management system that automatically produces reports and forecasts based on real time data means increased visibility and no additional labor or time. This kind of automation can also identify small ways to cut costs and boost margins.
Gain accurate rebate data
In the rebate world there is too much data, coming from too many sources, without a system in place to efficiently make sense of it all, accuracy of your data is significantly reduced. You can’t make profitable deals in the future unless you can get an accurate look at the state of your deals now which can’t be done with endless, messy spreadsheets. Because automation works so quickly and keeps records of every deal, you get instant access to the most accurate data available. This sort of data empowers you to make more accurate business decisions and boost your financial performance.
Paying staff to complete manual data entry can be costly. It takes away employees’ time from more meaningful tasks – not to mention the cost of having to reformat any data that has been inputted with mistakes. When an organization already has people on hand to perform those tasks, they tend to cling to manual data entry because they worry about the cost of installing new automation tools. However, automation can quickly pay for itself. Much of this savings comes from accelerated processing speeds and the reduction of human error. Goldman Sachs estimated in 2019, for instance, that automated data capture costs are only about a third of less-efficient manual data capture costs.
Any issues can be found and fixed right away
Manual data entry also means that any issues with the data or the deal can take time to detect. Problems that are not detected quickly can quietly fester, becoming larger and quickly generating new problems. On the other hand, an automatic system that’s updated in real time allows for calculations and reports to be performed daily, or even more frequently. Any issues can be caught sooner and handled more efficiently.
If your business is experiencing problems with manual data entry, particularly ones that cost you a lot of time and money, it may be time to consider an automated rebate management system. You could potentially save your organization hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars while improving employee productivity and engagement.
Are you ready to try the alternative to manual data entry? Get in touch with Enable for a demo.