A major problem in the accounting area is data entry errors for all types of transactions. These errors flow through into the reporting of the financial results and financial position of a business, causing potentially material reporting errors. To avoid this problem, a great deal of time may be spent to locate and correct errors. A number of techniques have been developed for spotting or preventing keystroke errors, such as:
- Have two people enter the same information, and have the computer flag any differences
- Scan bar coded information
- Have customers enter their own orders via on on-line form
- Use radio frequency identification tags to automatically record information
Another area to focus on is the substantial difference between the error rates that arise for the entry of numeric and alphanumeric information. Several studies have shown that the entry of alphanumeric information results in 100 times more errors than the entry of numeric information. This figure declines by a factor of four if an expert typist is used, but the differential is still enormous.
The best way to deal with the alphanumeric error rate is to switch to numeric information as much as possible. Here are several examples:
- Identify warehouse bins with a number, rather than an alphanumeric code (such as Aisle B, Rack 4, Bin T).
- Identify products with a number, rather than an alphanumeric code (such as AT550-Q).
- Create each invoice with an entirely new invoice number, rather than with a version letter (such as 1234-B).
- Do not identify transactions with a type code (such as an invoice that is numbered 1234-IN).
In short, the avoidance of alphanumeric codes can drastically reduce the incidence of keystroke errors.