UTAS O Week Mission 2016 — Part 5: Data Entry and Volunteer Support

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This year, we recruited a team of people to help us do data entry in 'real time' for a couple of reasons:

  1. So that people would hear back from us as soon as possible after we had first met them.
  2. So that we could invite people to our free pizza parties that were happening each evening of O Week.
  3. So that we didn't have a huge backlog of hundreds of names at the end of the day.

This was a huge challenge logistically for us. But it is one of the things we will definitely repeat from now on.

Advantages to recruiting a data entry team

  • Gave an avenue for students and local church volunteers to serve the campus mission, if they didn't have the time flexibility, gifts or confidence to help out in public promotional stuff.
  • Freed up staff time and energy from doing administration.
  • Many hands make light work!
  • Forced us to write very detailed, step by step 'how to use Elvanto' guidelines for both adding people and putting them into People Flows. This will help us in future training of people to use our database.

Challenges of training and overseeing a data entry team

  • Volunteer recruitment, communication and training takes a lot of time and effort.
  • You need advice to people on deciphering handwriting:
    • hold it far away, or drop on the floor and look while standing up above it — it helps your brain do its pattern recog thing
    • look for other examples of unclear letters to get clues to what it might be
    • different ways of writings 7s and 1s
    • beware of difference between a dash and an underscore
    • '.' in the name bit of gmail addresses don't matter — fake.name@gmail.com and fakename@gmail.com go to the same place
    • tell them about qq.com — a common Chinese email site. It's NOT gg.com :-)
    • especially if you have older people: common email endings — to avoid them writing 'gmail.net' or whatever by mistake
    • be aware that some nationalities list surname FIRST followed by first name.
  • We found a lot of data entry errors and a lot of failures to follow the steps that were carefully laid out in the guidelines of adding people into Elvanto:
    • this demonstrates how people find it hard to follow step by step instructions consistently over time 
    • really stress the need to be accurate with data, when training
    • really stress the need to follow every step on the guidelines, when training.
    • remind people regularly to follow each step on the guidelines
  • We tried on one day to have the person traveling between campuses and collecting forms to also be training and overseeing data entry. This didn't work at all: both roles are almost full time.
  • You need a really clear system for managing all the piles of completed surveys for EACH PERSON doing the surveys:
    • different campuses and locations
    • each day
    • not sorted
    • people's responses added to Survey Monkey
    • 'No' to further contact?
    • 'No' to further contact but then give contact details — do you send them a once off email with links to an explanation of the gospel and answers to common questions
    • 'Yes' to furter contact
    • 'Maybe to furter contact
    • Fully processed

Advice on helping this really work

  • You need spaces where internet is available (or have people do WiFi hotspots over their phones). Since there will be people travelling between different sites on campus anyway, I recommend setting up a headquarters, even if it's not on campus — perhaps a local church that is happy for you to camp there for a few days and steal their WiFi?
  • Have a staff or student leader who is really clear on the process set aside to oversee this, or at least available nearby.
  • You will need to be ready to regularly: remind of process, check process, encourage and boost morale, solve technology problems, keep space tidy, offer food and drink, encourage breaks to stretch.
  • Make sure you give good and clear privacy policy training to those who are doing this.
  • Make the space they will work in be pleasant and fun.
  • Provide free food and drink and snacks for them.
  • Make sure there are enough chairs, tables, power cords, power boards and spare laptops/tablets if possible
  • We didn't keep track of who processed which people. That would've been helpful.
  • We didn't keep track in Elvanto of who said Yes and Maybe... so we will have to trawl back through our paper surveys to see how many of the Maybes ended up connecting with us — set up a field for next year.

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