Monday, 6 August 2012

5 ways to support your colleagues

Predictably, the number one cause of data problems is human driven typing errors and deviations from data standards. Although there is a lot of automation, people still type data into systems. Without the correct support, we all have the capacity to get things spectacularly wrong. 

We mis-key, we mis-spell audio commands, we fail to standardise data, we put the right data into the wrong fields and we hit the wrong option in multiple choice values. Here is my 5 point plan for giving  everyone the support they need to get it right.

Field definitions - Make sure the design of the input fields restricts the keying options. If you need to put in a customer's title, restrict the field to a drop-down box of options. As much as possible, make sure that open text is not used. If they need to pick from a known customer list, give them a search option.

Training - Give all your colleagues information on how the data they manufacture is being consumed by other areas of the business. Raise their awareness. Arouse their curiosity. Win hearts and minds. It is so much more effective to get them to ask questions, rather than spoon-feeding them with empty directives.

Measurement - Measure the accuracy of your inputters and give rewards for the best and most improved. Avoid negative campaigns. Focus on what you do want, not what you don't.

Real-time validation - Modules can be added to real-time validate postal addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers and many other common data types. 

Give colleagues a voice - Listen to your colleagues. They may already have some inspiring ideas of their own about how to make things better. 

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