Data Entry Standards – Guidelines and Examples

If you are planning to implement a CRM system this is the perfect time to look at data entry standards!  This article provides our guidelines that we use for our own data entry standards.

Introduction to Data Entry Standards

The success of a CRM system will be greatly enhanced by considering how your business is best served by its customer data.  Ideally, you should carry out this review before the data is loaded and your user base gets hands-on with the CRM.

This article highlights some of the factors to be considered and we also share some of the data entry standards that we use at QGate, as an example.

Data Entry Standards

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.

Benefits of Using Data Entry Standards

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

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

Factors to consider

1. 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?

2. Approach to multiple 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?

3. Account hierarchy

  • Is the legal relationship between companies relevant to your own business?
  • Will you want to identify parent accounts in any reporting?

4. 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?

5. 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 are entered in a consistent manner?  Eg. picklist

6. Third party Add-ons

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

7. How to manage account name changes

  • Checking the account does not already exist in new name.
  • How to ensure users aware of a name change?

8. Process to follow if a contact leaves a company

  • Has the 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.

9. 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?

10. How to manage duplicate accounts/contacts

  • Will the merge functionality be provided to users?
  • Is there a designated person available to administer merges?

Example – QGate 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. QGate has a service offering from its sister company QWARE which will helps prevent duplication of accounts/contacts/leads and another which can cure duplication in bulk.

Please contact us if you’d like further information or to discuss your data issues.

Conclusion

Having established procedural rules it is vital that the user base is made aware of those standards.  Making everyone aware of the benefits this will bring provides an incentive to adhere to the rules.

Data Standard can be outlined during training and should be 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.

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