Guest Post by Laura Ngan Tian, Senior Consultant for Blackbaud’s Financial Management suite.
Having accurate and consistent data is not only essential to a nonprofit’s Grants Management strategy, it’s crucial to the reliability of information across all systems within an organization as well.
This is why a Data Entry Standards Manual, to institute rules and policies for the use of shared data and data entry in general, is so important.
A data entry standards manual enables an organization to:
- Comply with requirements
- Maintain consistent information
- Generate accurate reports
How can your organization create a data entry standards manual and roll it out to your organization?
Define the information needs:
It is important to first review what type of information is needed by your organization, including that required by the monitors and/or auditors, Board of Directors, and funders.
During this discovery process, involve different levels of consumer of information so that you get a cross sectional feedback and facilitate the hierarchy of needs.
Identify required and optional data fields:
When you have identified the information to be maintained, your next step is to categorize which of that information is required and which is optional. Ideally, your system would allow you to define which is which and prompt for user entry as necessary.
Define a process for exception handling:
Even with good data entry standards, exceptions are bound to happen. Creating a process for correcting exceptions is essential to ensuring your staff members are well prepared.
Create a manual for data entry standards and procedures:
After identifying the data requirements, the next step is to put it in writing to formalize the standards, procedures, and best practices. A picture paints a thousand words, so make sure to add print screen to your guide!
Communicate and disseminate the guide:
Train the users and publish the document to guide users on the established rules for information management.