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Enter at your own risk!

by David Wisor

June 2, 2010

As you may recall, last blog entry talked about why we made the switch from data entry at each of our locations to centralizing this data entry to Corporate. The latest catch phrase around this process would be shared services. I’m going to hesitate to call this shared services myself, I’ll leave the definition to others.

So how does our data entry process work? I’ll start at the beginning. A data change is initiated. This could be the employee asking for a change to their tax withholdings, direct deposit or address. It could be a manager, who is moving one of their employees to a different shift or a different position. It could also be the HR Department, which has hired a new employee, processed a transfer to a different department or terminated an employee.

“There’s a form for that”: Regardless of the type of data change, we try to have a form, or, in the case of a new hire, a combination of several forms, available for the initiator. For our purposes, I’ll divide the forms into four categories:

  • Government forms-These are forms, such as a W-4 or I-9, which are completed and submitted by the employee, and for which design is beyond our immediate control. 
  • Single purpose, non-custom forms-As the name implies, these forms only have one purpose, such as an address change or a new hire direct deposit.
  • Single purpose, custom forms-Similar to the forms mentioned above, they generally serve one purpose, however the form has already been partially completed for the user. You may be thinking benefits enrollment, but we also use a custom payroll remuneration statement/check stub to generate a direct deposit change request form.
  • Mul ti-purpose forms-We’ve created an Excel Spreadsheet that is customized based on the event. For example, if the initiator selected a schedule change, the form would display only the Associate ID, Name, Effective Date and Work Schedule Rule. Select a New Hire, and many fields will be available.

Once the form has been completed, and in some cases approved by the Human Resources department, it is sent via email or fax to the data entry team. Both members of the team receive the form, regardless of who will ultimately do the entry. However, to keep things simple, data entry is split based on the time of the day it is received, with the morning’s data being processed by one employee and the afternoon being processed by the other. As we near the end of a Payroll period, they begin to overlap, ensuring that all data is in the system before payroll completes it final processing.

The data entry team processes the forms using a first in, first out methodology, however forms that are tagged in an email as urgent are processed first, and occasionally, data that is not Benefit or Payroll relevant is put aside to be processed later. We had concerns that the urgent tag would be abused, however we have found that forms are rarely submitted as urgent, and when they are tagged as such, they truly fit our definition of urgent, such as new hires waiting for an id number.

Generally our forms clearly indicate what information needs to be included, and most of the time all the data that is needed is present on the form, however we do occasionally find that some of the data is missing from the form, or is illegible. In these cases, the original form is electronically filed, and noted as being incomplete, and the initiator of the form, or their HR Manager, is notified about the problem with the form. The electronic filing of these forms is done to track the number of errors, and this serves two purposes-we can review the forms that are generating follow-up, and we can also track who is making these mistakes. A review of the form means that we can improve these forms to eliminate the possibility of missing data, and identification of mistakes by individual helps us to understand if we need to work with an individual on their performance, either by providing additional training or coaching.

Finally, in the most important, albeit simplest to explain, part of the process, the data is entered into SAP by our data entry team. To assist with the entry and validation, the team has the benefits of various systemic controls and tools, which I will list here, and most of which will receive separate treatment in their own blog entry:

  • We have procedures and job aids
  • The screens and actions have been customized to reduce the possibility of errors
  • Some changes are reported to local HR Managers
  • Payroll reviews and signs off on all Garnishment, Direct Deposit and W-4 additions and changes
  • Error reports run daily and report errors directly to the data entry team. At last count, we run about 400 of these reports every day.

It was my intent to talk about some of the challenges we’ve faced, but I’ve gone a little longer than I intended, so I’ll leave that for next time. Thanks and keep reading!

David “Bud” Wisor, Mannington Mills

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