The data devil: dual data entry


On the old site, I railed a few times against the perils and general stupidity of dual data entry. At a high level, barring some type of cataclysm, there's absolutely no reason for anyone to be typing the same data into two disparate systems. And that goes double for anyone manually writing down data on a piece of paper that exists on a screen.

Yet, there I was at my gym a few weeks ago watching an employee do that very thing:


As I walked over to the stretching area, I saw the woman above engaging in the most rote of exercises. Of course, I couldn't let it go. My hamstrings and quads would have to wait for the time being as I investigated a data crime in progress.

I asked the woman if there was a problem with my gym's current systems. In other words, was it normal for her to write data on a piece a paper that exists on a screen? After all, it was the same data. In my mind, there had to be some rational explanation.

The conversation went something like this:

Woman: "No. Management wants us to write appointments down on paper."

Me: "But that makes no sense. The same data is in front of you. You can't just export the data? What about printing it out?"

Woman (smiling at the fact that she's talking about data with some knucklehead): "Yeah, that would be better."

Me (amazed that this standard operating procedure): "That's just wrong. It's 2014!"

Now, I don't go to my gym because of its data management practices – or lack thereof. I'm more interested in its cleanliness, monthly dues, proximity to my home and overall vibe. What's more, plenty of other businesses need to embrace the 21st century.

Still, I can't help but think that any business that requires its employees to do something so silly is missing out. If I ran a gym, rest assured that no one would be required to do that type of "work." I'd offer in-gym WiFi. I would be looking at ways to promote the increasing trend of wearable technology. I would push the envelope, trying to find new insights into my customers.

Simon says: really?

I could be wrong, but I find it difficult to believe that management at my gym gets it. More broadly, any organization that believes that dual data entry is acceptable today is missing out on the tremendous data opportunities of our era.


What say you?


About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top