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Introduction To Getting Started With Data Entry

Once you completed the Collect! basics and initial setup, you are ready to start entering data.

If you have used any collection software package prior to purchasing Collect! you will already have some knowledge of the kind of data that is needed. Most likely, you will have a good understanding of the record relationship between a Client and a Debtor and the details of entering accounts.

If you are new to the collection business or have never used a databased system before, then you will need to learn how Collect! works with these different types of data.

As you move forward through the creation of the basic record types, we will explain what the record can be used for. This will help you plan the best way to use the record as you sculpt Collect!'s functions to suit your company's individual needs.

If you were using other collection software, you may want to open it, and at the same time, get a session of Collect! running at the same time. Apply what you know from your previous system to see how the data relates to the menus and screens in Collect!

Every Collect! system has 3 databases:

  • demodb. Your Demo database is a testbed environment where you can experiment with features and functions before taking a process live to your main production environment.
  • masterdb. This is your Main database - where you will store all your real data and work your accounts.
  • prosdb. This is a bonus Prospecting database, intended to be helpful to inside sales employees. It is another regular database but one which has had a number of fields Alias (renamed) to be meaningful to sales staff. It is possible to repurpose this database to be 'like' a second production environment should the need arise for you at a later date. If so, contact Technical Services for more information on how to convert a prosdb to function like a second masterdb.

Depending what you are doing, you can click the Select Database button and access any of the three databases whenever you login. This button is located on on the " Welcome to Collect!", to the left of the system "Start" button you'd click to launch your session.

If this is your first time and you have no existing data, then you would be starting with the bare essentials and manually data entering everything. We recommend entering 1 or 2 clients to start with, along with a few debtors for the clients entered. Accessing this data from debtor and client lookups, and comparing how it appears in Collect! as compared to your previous software will assist you in spotting if you got everything in or if anything was left behind/unentered.

When you are satisfied that you have input everything salient that you will need, and selected the best fit user defined fields for other data, you are ready now to begin large scale entry of the rest of your clients and debtors.

We'd recommend that you consider a few conventions you will insist your staff adhere to for uniform, easy to lookup data as well as attractive, consistent appearance in your letters and reports. These data standards should be established to be the same for both manual entry of information and electronic import of information, which there are ways of controlling. For example, if your client sends you data that is all block capitals and you want sentence English with each first letter only being capitalized, there are preference settings in the Import module to help you regulate that.

Conversely, even if your client's raw data file has letter case data and you prefer all block caps, that too can be converted upon import. You System Administrator merely needs to be aware of this software switch's existence in the Import Field Specifications window.

Data entry standard examples:

1. Block capitals for the debtor name/address info or sentence English? (only first letter of each word capitalized).

2. Dates MM/DD/YYYY or DD/MM/YYYY? This is an important decision that once made, you need to stay with it because Collect! will not be able to ascertain Month from Day where the numbers are less or equal to 12 and this will create confusion and inaccuracy in reports if the date convention is not uniformly maintained by all staff in all date fields.

3. Certain piece(s) of extra client supplied data that is going into a user defined field. Pick the same field for that piece of data all the time. Rename the Alias name of the field to identify that piece of data if the client is big enough and the use of the field is exclusive for that item. This is done by Right clicking on the field and choosing a different name for the field label.

Don't allow individual users to decide to put something in User 1 one day and Summary the next, then User 2 the time after that. Especially if you might need to access this information in a custom report - it has to be housed in a reliable spot in order to be included in a report, OR, to be a selectable field that can be inserted into a WIP List.

4. Phone numbers. Are you entering them as numerics stripped of any non-numerics like hyphens or parentheses, i.e. 5552451212 OR, are you entering them as 555-245-1212.

The reason this is important is because the Phone Lookups are exact: if you entered it with hyphens, you have to find it with hyphens. It become time consuming and frustrating for collectors to have to lookup a phone number multiple ways because of entry error issues.

tip.gif The simplest solution is to set your "System\ Preferences\Options, Sounds and Colors\Only numerics in phone fields" preference switch On and strip non-numerics from phone numbers if you import. Manual entry should be advised to enter the style 5552551212. If a collector tries to update a phone number later, the system setting will prevent non-numerics from being saved.

5. SSN. Is your standard going to be to enter the number all 9 digits with no spaces or as the standard format of 555 55 5555.

As with the Phone fields, there is a system switch in the "Screen and Messages" window to allow "Only numerics in SSN" and also an import switch that can strip spaces/hyphens out of SSNs as they are loaded.

6. Do you collect internationally? If not, the use of the Country code will get redundant on letters, reports and client statements. You may choose to leave this field blank and/or comment out the field in reports or letters that call for it as part of a client, debtor or agency address. Commenting out a field in a letter or report so that it is skipped/not expressed involves putting two slashes at the front of the line. Example, if the printable field code appears as: @cd.co, left-flush with the margin, then a commented out country code would be //@cd.co.

7. We recommend using the standard 2 digit State (or Province) codes of your region and not entering the full name of the state/province in words. This will allow your State field to be ascending/descending sortable and maintain another data convention that will be reflected in your letters and report outputs. As well, in some countries, postal services will not accept envelopes that have non-standard abbreviations for their provinces/states.

8. If you plan on reporting to any of the Credit Bureaus, establish correct address format standards right from the outset. Your local Post Office will have a handbook which describes what is or is not an acceptable Mail Addressing Standards. The reason for this is to ensure not only is your mail not rejected by the postal service but that both the Collect! Credit Bureau Module and the Credit Bureaus themselves will reject addresses not submitted in correct format.

Example of a correctly formatted address:

123 - 55 Somewhere St.

New York, NY 12345

Example of an incorrectly formatted address:

55 Somewhere Street
Apt #123
New York, New York, 12345

9. Collector Notes. Do you want them to write in block caps all the time or regular sentence English. If you employ live skip tracers, do you want their notes to be block caps or sentence English? Some agencies have collectors write in block caps and tracers in lower case so that at a glance, who wrote the notes is distinguishable. In Collect!, you also have the ability to color code your users notes by selecting a specific color in the Operator Setup for each user's notes. It is possible for color to follow job function: posting in green, manager's notes in red, collector's notes in blue, etc.

10. Have you created Action/Result codes for your collectors to use that negate perfunctory note entry and standardize how you want certain actions to be notated in your accounts note history? For example, do you want to see Tel Res - No Answer or TEL RES - NA. It is possible to set up a series of contact plans to auto-write these types of notes for the collectors.

11. Have you designated which windows you want collectors to use for any other office specific requirement, AND updated the pick-lists so that said windows are ready for them? Example, if you will be utilizing the Cosigners window for the Other Contacts it's really designed for, have you updated the pick list in that window to include all the different Class and Types you want your users to identify their data with? Example, Class add-ins such as NOK, AKA, Ref, Rel and Type add-ins like Mom, Dad, MIL, FIL, B/F, G/F, etc.

See Also

- Introduction to Debtor Information
- How to Enter a New Debtor
- How to Modify or Create a Pick List

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Collection Advisor RMA ACA Member