Manolo de la Fuente

Outsourcing data entry: scary or simple

9 May 2012, by Manolo de la Fuente
Your company is doing some serious cost-cutting. All the temps have gone, jobs have been frozen and people who leave aren’t being replaced. How can you possibly save any more money? How about offshoring work like data entry to countries where wages are lower? Like Asia for example? This is bound to raise questions in your organisation, and maybe even opposition. Some data-entry suppliers will claim that offshoring data is as simple as can be. But are they right? What exactly is offshoring? Is it scary? Or is it plain simple?

From scary to simple

Maybe you've already started out on your quest for a data-entry supplier. If so, you'll have noticed that there are so many of them. Selecting the right supplier is really very easy. If they come for a chat over coffee, make sure you ask the four questions below. If you don't get the right answers, keep searching or continue doing data entry yourself.


Question 1: I'm still coming up against resistance from colleagues. What can I do about it?

Opposition to offshoring usually comes from two sides:

  • Some of your colleagues will claim that no one can do the work better than your own organisation. "After all, we've been doing it for years." It's a frequently heard argument at PostNL too. It is, however, a misconception. A trial run during the busiest data-entry period of the year showed us that the quality delivered right from day one was better than the quality PostNL had ever achieved itself. So we learned that if you outsource your work to an expert employing thousands of people who do nothing but data entry, you get better results than doing it yourself. What's more, without the worry of data entry you can fully focus on the work for which your knowledge of the organisation is indispensable. 

  • The works council will probably question the working conditions at the site in Asia, especially when it comes to child labour. We have learned that you can talk until you're blue in the face, but it doesn't help. An effective way is to hop on a plane with members of the works council and show them the site. Let them take a look around and talk to the people doing the work. In our case, everyone was convinced within just one hour!


Question 2: How does my company keep control?

If you carry out activities in house you can take a walk over the shop floor and keep everything in check. Outsourcing can make that more difficult. You should expect suppliers to ask you a number of questions: how often do you want to receive reports and what are the criteria, and in what circumstances should we contact you without delay? The supplier should also tell you that the reports will meet the service level you have in mind or the level your company has reached in recent years.


Question 3: Do you use the offshore services for your own company too?

If the answer is "no", then you have every reason to raise your eyebrows and ask why.


Question 4: What is your proven quality level?

Hopefully, the supplier will tell you how satisfied the customers are and about the targets the company has met. Don't be afraid to ask whether you can call a few of the customers to get their feedback.

The answers you get should put your mind at ease and convince you that offshoring data entry is anything but scary. It might not be simple, but you are confident the supplier will pull out all the stops for you.

If you have any tips yourself on how to recognise good data-entry suppliers or you have very different ideas, let me know. I'm eager to hear your thoughts.


Manolo de la Fuente