Manual Data Collection – 4 Common Problems

By Howie Fenton for RSA – Measuring performance and analyzing how to improve productivity is perhaps the most important tool in your toolkit to prove your value as an in-plant print center. In addition, it will provide the information you need to keep prices competitive and the outsourcing wolves at bay. This is the second article in a two-part series that discusses issues with metrics. Part one of this series discussed the issue of bad metrics. In this article we discuss the four problems associated with manual data collection: unreliable data, staff productivity loss and dissatisfaction, and the inability to compile and analyze manually collected data. I believe this the worst problem with data because almost half of in-plants collect data manually and most of those collect ALL their data manually.

Four Problems with Manually Collecting Data for Metrics

Manually collected data is information that is collected manually typically with pen and paper. Manual data collection is frequently an acceptable standard operating procedure when you are collecting a new measure. However, once you can know that a metric is worth collecting you need to automate the collection process and store the data to compile and assess. There are four common problems with continued use of manual data collection.

  1. Good Manual Metrics Become Bad Batched Metrics

To fully understand the problems with manual data collection you must watch staff collect data over time. Based on my experience if you leave the data collection as a manual process, people tend to no longer write down the results after each occurrence and start to write it down in batches. This is a gradual process first every other time, then every fourth time and soon it is before lunch and before leaving. This can lead to once a day or even once a week recording. Each time the data recording is done in longer and longer batches the data becomes less and less reliable.

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SOURCE Rochester Software Associates

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