Data entry: acceptable error rate

Is there a rule of thumb for how many errors a data entry peson should make? I mean, none of us are perfect – when human beings enter numbers into a computer, there are going to be some slip-ups. I accept that. But is there a percentage above which we have left the realm of random chance and entered the domain of just sloppy work?

(Some background, if it helps: I am membership chair of a sub-committe of a national organization. Every month, headquarters sends me two lists: one of all active members in my committee – currently hovering around 800 – and another showing everyone who has renewed or joined for the first time in the past month – usually about 80. I recently noticed that on that new/renew list, about 20% of the activity is mis-identified: people who are actually new are listed as renewed; people who are actually renewed are listed as new. This led me to look at the All Active Members list more closely. I found a lot of incorrect expiration dates. And since members are purged from the list based on expiration date, I also checked past lists. Sure enough, there were members who had been purged, based on faulty dates. I calculate between 4% and 5% of the expiration dates were entered incorrectly. Of course, the number could be higher – I’m basically looking for members who are missing, as opposed to proofreading data on members still on the list.)

With thanks in advance for your help,

– Beruang

When I signed up with the temp agency they had me do a data entry test; anyone who made more than a certain number of errors would not be given data entry assignments. I don’t remember what the acceptable rate was (you might try calling a local agency and asking what their standard is), but the percentages you’re giving sound pretty bad to me.