In a Nutshell...

Why Cheaper Often Isn’t Less Expensive


Typist, Data Entry

Smart entrepreneurs know what to look for when outsourcing their work.

We all want to save money, right? But in trying to save money, we can end up spending more money, wasting time, and dealing with extra hassles. It’s best to make informed decisions, instead of just guessing. Or worse, choosing what looks like the cheapest option, and then hoping for a good outcome.

Someone asked me an interesting question recently about how to know when a typing or data entry service is reasonably priced. This is a great question because in the marketplace there are a variety of rates for similar services. When it comes to a service such as typing or data entry, you need to consider the following issues:

Is the rate based on an hourly cost, or is it based on the amount of work completed? Most virtual admin assistants will base their time on an hourly rate, and that’s because it really depends on the difficulty of the document as to how long it will take to input.

Medical, legal, or other specialized language or technical wording can slow down your virtual admin assistant’s typing speed. Formatting issues can change the difficulty level of a document, too. It’s also important to consider how the original document looks, as handwriting, small typeface, faded or distorted words, and even the quality of the paper can affect the time it will take for the operator to handle the inputting.

Any service that charges you based on the amount of work anticipated is absolutely going to be charging you a higher overall rate. They need to ensure that no matter how difficult the job is, they have covered their labour costs. In my opinion, this is not the most cost-effective choice.

Some virtual admin assistants also charge using minimum time increments. Be wary of this, as you could end up paying for time that is completely unused. At Virtual Squirrel, we always get our fastest and best specialists on each job, matched to each task by skill-set. We track our time by the minute, so you never pay for wasted time. For us, this is a matter of integrity.

If you ask for an estimate, your virtual admin assistant would need to review the document to have a true sense of how long it might take. Is it single-sided? Is it single-spaced? Does the document have an average-sized typeface (Arial 10 font, for example)? Is the wording straightforward? Will the formatting set-up be straightforward?

If you can say “yes” to most or all those questions, it will likely take between 9-16 minutes for a typist who types over 55 words per minute with no errors, including review time. The faster the typist and the easier the work, the less you should end up paying.

This leads to the next and very important issue. How fast does your virtual admin assistant actually type? You’d be surprised how many “typists” only type 40 or 50 words per minute and/or have high error rates. If the typing isn’t fast, it doesn’t matter that it’s cheaper, because it’s going to take longer to complete the work. And if the typing isn’t right the first time, it’s going to take extra time to correct mistakes. Either you will pay for that time, too, or you will end up having to review and possibly fix the document yourself. No savings there!

A good and experienced typist will be familiar with many writing styles and technical categories (such as legal or medical), and will be both fast and accurate. When a mistake is made, it should be felt in the fingers right as it happens, and be quickly corrected. An inexperienced, entry-level or otherwise unqualified operator who is at least smart enough to not be overconfident in their skills and abilities, will need to carefully read, character-by-character, over their own work if you’re going to get an accurate document back. This adds additional time, which you’ll end up paying for.

That’s not to say a quick review isn’t important. Sometimes a word like “quiet” can be inadvertently replaced by a similar word, like “quite”. It may feel right in the fingers because it’s a real word, but it’s not the right word. A word processing software’s spellchecker will often not pick up such a mistake, so a good and experienced operator will be looking for skipped words or wrong-context words, but will not need to look for actual typos because they already know how to spell and they already know what they typed.

I also cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a virtual admin assistant handling your typing or data entry to be fluent in the language that is being inputted. There are services that send this kind of work overseas or employ unqualified people at entry-level wages who just cannot adequately observe and assist with any grammatical issues, spelling inconsistencies, and the like – let alone easily pick up their own mistakes.

Software spellcheckers are also no replacement for a keen eye and an exemplary understanding of the language. A good and experienced virtual admin assistant would never need to rely on a software spellchecker, and this too, will save you time and money.

Another underestimated issue comes down to ergonomics. Anyone who has ever taken a keyboarding class should know that the style of keyboard and the physical position of the operator makes a difference in how quickly the inputting can be effectively done. A laptop sitting on a lap? No thanks!

Properly setting up section breaks, pagination formatting, having to manually adjust column sizes, and many other formatting issues can easily slow down an unqualified operator, and may lead to major problems within your document. A highly skilled typist will know exactly how to set up the formatting to save time and minimize any need to fix issues later.

An experienced operator will also not make “rookie mistakes” such as using the spacebar instead of setting up proper tabs, which would cause your document to look unprofessional. An unprofessional document reflects poorly on you, so it’s important to ensure your document represents you in the best possible way.

So, before you simply choose a virtual admin assistant because they have a low rate, find out how much experience they have, how fast they type and what their error rate is, how good their language skills are, what their working conditions are like and if their equipment is professional enough to deliver quality work in a timely manner.

Smart entrepreneurs choose Virtual Squirrel because we promise high quality workmanship in everything we do. We are trained specialists, highly experienced and able to handle your work with a keen eye. We are ready to recommend helpful improvements that will save you time and money. Best of all, you won’t have to spend time identifying and fixing problems.

Check out our great on-demand Administrative Time Packages, which you'll have a whole year to use from the date of purchase: www.VirtualSquirrel.com/rates-packages.

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Vancouver, BC, Canada

Phone / Fax: 604-343-2766

Email: admin@VirtualSquirrel.com