I work in a manufacturing plant, and in order to properly track the inventory, an employee needs puts in the amount of whatever materials where used in each specific run into the computer.

However they don't always put in the correct data, for example, the machine only used half a roll of cloth in the run, but they just enter that the entire roll was used. And that mixes up all the info of what materials we have or need.

What can we do to make it really hard for them to make a mistake like that, or for them to really want to do it right.

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    This could easily be asked on UX as well: how to design the inventory tracking system to reduce errors – Yamikuronue Nov 21 '13 at 17:45
  • @sb_ If you're looking for management techniques or other ways to encourage your workers, here is fine. If you're looking to re-design the system, for example, making a better form that's less likely to provide errors, UX will probably be more helpful. Or ask on both with different slants and see what answers you get. – Yamikuronue Nov 21 '13 at 17:52
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    IMHO this is off topic because it's not a workplace question. You are looking for a way to optimize your production process by minimizing inventory tracking errors. This is a common problem in manufacturing and warehousing. FWIW I don't think this is a bad question, but this is not the right place. – MrFox Nov 21 '13 at 18:42
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    dont forget that this might be way of disgusing theft – Neuromancer Nov 22 '13 at 18:16
  • If you are considering asking this question (or a related question) on UX, please keep in mind that you will have to craft it to focus on the user interaction with the system. – yoozer8 Nov 22 '13 at 19:15

I"m assuming since you're asking on a workplace site, that a technological solution is not feasable. You're going to need to motivate people.

Nobody is Perfect Humans make mistakes. Requiring unachievable goals will just make people give up. If you're not satisfied with 99% I may as well give you -90%.

You don't get something for nothing Are they in a hurry? Do they get negative feedback for not keeping up with a quota. Being sloppy with the inventory counts may be just one way to cut a corner.

Who Cares? Do they really know how important this is? Will you give them the time to do it right?

What's in it for me? Since you seem to be able to count the inventory after the fact (How else did you know the counts were off?), maybe you can create an incentive program for a team/group/shift to keep accurate counts.

Just Ask Approach people and ask what can be done about this. You'll probably learn something about the people.

Edit: Along with the motivational aspects of the data entry problem, there may be some other solutions. Using a scale to get an accurate measurement of partial rolls. The period key may be broke. Then again, maybe they just need to take their gloves off.

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    I really REALLY dislike attempts to solve management problems with technology. This answer (esp. the last point - Just Ask) seems good to me. – Dan Pichelman Nov 21 '13 at 19:05
  • @DanPichelman: Hmm... The OP wants to avoid data entry errors in a database. You're not being a Luddite, are you? – Jim G. Nov 22 '13 at 13:35
  • @Chad - I assumed an answer that involves "you need to motivate people" along with possible motivational issues isn't considered a lack of trying. – user8365 Nov 22 '13 at 15:29
  • @DanPichelman: Please see the following linked comment. A software system is absolutely 100% essential for protecting the integrity of the database and limiting shrinkage. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/16858/… – Jim G. Nov 22 '13 at 18:20

I have found that one of the biggest reasons why employees enter bad data into any kind of database is that the data itself is not meaningful to them. If they don't understand what it is used for or what problems for their jobs it creates when the data is wrong, then they have no real incentive to make the data correct. It is just one more meaningless task to be gotten through as quickly as possible. So gather up examples of where bad data actually hurt the company or ended up in them not being able to correctly do their jobs or increases costs or made pay raises less likely or anything else that might affect them, then explain to them why the data is important, what it is used for and what problems it creates for them when it is bad.

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    Even if they understand the importance, there is a slew of reasons why they may be making mistakes. Boeing, Honda, etc do not get their production processes to be so efficient by making employees understand the importance of their work (or at least that's not the only focus). It sounds like the OP should go on to some six sigma forum and pose the quesion there. – MrFox Nov 21 '13 at 19:02

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