Batching, Error Checking and Data Collecting: Understanding Data Entry in a Financial Office

in Proceedings of 15th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work - Exploratory Papers, Reports of the European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies, Conference paper (text), Sheffield, UK


Data entry is a core computing activity performed by office workers every day. Prior research on this topic has tended to study data entry in controlled lab environments. In this paper, we interviewed nine financial administrators from two large universities to learn about their practices for conducting data entry work. We found that financial information often has to be retrieved from multiple electronic and paper sources, and involves briefly keeping items in memory when switching between sources. Interviewees reported that they batched a lot of data entry tasks into a single session to complete the work quickly, and mitigated the risk of data entry errors by time-consuming practices of double-checking. However, prior lab studies suggest that double-checking is a poor strategy as it takes time and people are poor at spotting errors. This work has implications for how future data entry research should be conducted.