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Data Entry Standards – Guidelines and Examples

Introduction

If you are planning to implement a CRM system this is the perfect time to look at data entry standards!  The success of the CRM system will be greatly enhanced by considering how your business is best served by its customer data.  Ideally you carry out this review before the data is loaded and your user base gets hands on with the system.

If your CRM system is already in place, then some effort may be required to get your data into the most efficient format but carrying out this task and setting up data entry standards should yield results in terms of enhanced performance and cost savings.

This article will highlight some of the factors to be considered and QGate is sharing some of its own data entry standards. These may not fit perfectly to your own business but understanding the reasoning behind the guidance should help in the setup of your own data entry standards.

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Benefits

The effect of putting in place a set of data entry standards will be consistency and that will result in:

  • Saving time
  • Saving money
  • Ensuring accuracy in reporting eg. forecasting and trend analysis
  • Facilitating integration with other business systems
  • Reducing likelihood of duplication

Factors to consider

Compulsory Fields

What is the minimum information (in the first instance) you require to be able to process communications with a potential customer?

Under what circumstances will users be adding new records, will it be a time sensitive activity?

Approach to regional offices

Should a separate account record be established for each location of a company?

How do you interact with company branches?  Could different sales people be responsible for local branches?

Will you be using security to segregate records by geography?

What will be the reporting requirements for companies with multiple locations?

Account Hierarchy

Is the legal relationship between companies relevant to your own business?

Will you want to identify parent accounts in any reporting?

International data

Does your business deal with companies internationally now or is it possible in foreseeable future?

Should language symbols be available and used?  Which language should be used?

Address data

Will you rely on location information to generate marketing lists?  Consistency in field usage will be important ie.  City in City field and not AddressLine3

Do you need a mechanism to ensure cities/counties/countries entered in consistent manner?  Eg. picklist

Third party add-ons

Does any of the third party software being utilised have data format requirements?

How to manage account name changes

Checking the account does not already exist in new name.

How to ensure users aware of name change?

Process to follow if a contact leaves a company

Has contact moved to another company?  Is the new contact information known and available to the company under data protection regulations?

Does the contact have any future activities which should be closed?  Eg. meeting or newsletter subscriptions.

Process to follow for deletion of records

Are there any legal requirements to maintain records?

Will users be given permissions to delete records?

Is there a designated person available to administer deletions?

How to manage duplicate accounts/contacts

Will the merge functionality be provided to users?

Is there a designated person available to administer merges?

Example Data Entry Standards

Account Naming Convention

QGate creates accounts according to the following convention:

One head office in each country, with contacts at regional offices with alternative addresses.

Account Name

Guidelines

  • Check if account exists before entering new account using Paribus Interactive.
  • Use Full Company Name
  • Do not Abbreviate (e.g. PWC)
  • If abbreviations are acceptable, eg BT or IBM, then do not put spaces between the letters.
  • Including country / division at end is acceptable
    [IBM (Ireland), BT Ignite]
  • Beware of spaces, hyphens, etc.
  • Beware of case (e.g. QGate not QGATE)
  • Beware of misspelling / typing errors
  • Where possible, take the precise company name from business cards or stationery

Account Address

Guidelines

  • Correct City, State and Country (drop down list)
  • Correct postal address
  • Use address management software wherever possible.
  • City names should be entered in the national language (Munchen not Munich)

Telephone number format

Please use the following format for all new and updated telephone numbers:

+COUNTRY_CODE (FULL_AREA_CODE) MAIN_NUMBER

–Note: —

  • COUNTRY_CODE is important, even for UK numbers, to ensure dialling from international locations will succeed.
  • FULL_AREA_CODE must include the leading zero (0), if applicable, even though you are also specifying the Country Code (intelli-CTi will correct the number when dialling as appropriate).
  • MAIN_NUMBER can *optionally* contain separators (such as dashes “-“) but it is not necessary.
  • Extension numbers *can* be included after the main number (such as “ ext. 111” or “x111”), but it will be ignored by intelli-CTi when dialling.

— Examples of numbers in the correct format: —

+44 (01329) 222800

+353 (1) 8537245

+1 (517) 853-1214 x111

Third Party add-ons to support Data Standards

In addition to a set of guidelines for data entry, software is available to correct or ensure consistency in entry.  For example, some vendors offer software for address management or enhancing data, and QGate has a service offering which will helps PREVENT duplication of accounts/contacts/leads.  Please see here for further information on Paribus Interactive or here to read about Paribus Discovery, which can CURE duplication in bulk.

Relevant third party tools

Function Product
Address Management Postcode Anywhere
Data-8 Address Validation
Integration Tools Scribe Insight
Scribe Online
Inaport

If you require any further information on this topic, please contact us to talk to our Data Specialists.

Conclusion

Having established some procedural rules for users to follow it is vital that the user base is made aware of those standards.  By making everyone aware of the benefits this will give them an appreciation for the need to adhere to the rules.

The standards can be outlined during training and it is always useful to keep the standards documented and available for all to refer back to at any time.  Identifying an individual as the data steward is recommended.  This person can ensure that the data entry standards are kept up to date, introducing new standards if required and ensuring initial guidelines are still relevant as the use of the CRM system develops over time.