In business terms, time is money, so if you save time you save money. The easiest way to do this in any business situation is to embrace new technologies that make work easier through office automation.
Office automation is the application of IT (Information Technology) in a typical work environment to reduce time taken to carry out various activities. IT is applied on clerical & secretarial jobs like creating and maintaining correspondence and documentation. Technology offers an endless list of opportunities that maximize efficiency of staff and fulfil your dreams of constant customer retention and referral. Office automation creates more time for marketing your services or products therefore increasing the chances of higher sales and a better bottom line.
Replacing human staff with machines is a tough call but is necessary if the organisation is to reach its full potential. This is because, computers are faster in processing data, storage is also more secure and retrieval of the stored information is just at the click of a button. This process eliminates human error and decreases the time taken to process each document.
A great example of improved business through automation of repetitive processes includes ATM cards. Banks used to have several withdrawal tellers where people would queue for hours waiting to be served. With office automation in the Banking sector, ATM’s came to birth. These were put in different parts of the country to allow for easy access and processing of monies. Recently, deposits are also allowed via the ATM’s making a trip to the bank less gruesome. Automation and technology saw the birth of mobile money transfer that now allows you to withdraw from your bank to your phone and deposit from your phone to your bank. You almost never have to visit a banking hall these days. This saves your business in hours that could have been spent at the bank every day for the entire business lifespan.
Office automation serves to make processes run faster and also keep information up to date. Filing is easy to do since it eliminates the number of times you have to walk through a room full of papers to store more papers and then later on spend an equal amount of time retrieving them. Updating client information becomes a 5 second affair with office automation.
What are the disadvantages of Office Automation?
Cost – Any investment in new technology software and hardware is very expensive. This is hardest for small organisations which are trying to get their footing right in their various industries.
Adaptation to new technology – Older and more skilled manual labourers might find it a bit hard and tedious to work in the new environment. They could find ways to bypass it or frustrate the system altogether as opposed to adjusting.
Time consuming- Installation and set-up takes time, especially in bigger offices which have more automatable tasks. Training also takes time especially in offices where a culture had been set from inception.
Flexibility – Some office automation systems are fully online and cannot be run offline. If there is a power outage, some functions may not be manually possible thus rendering the business stagnant for the remainder of the day. This could affect processing of orders, delivery of product to client and in extreme cases ground invoicing and payments to suppliers which could lead to legal implications.
Here are some guidelines to office automation
- Establish what tasks can be automated before you buy the machinery- many organisations find themselves buying automation technology without first considering what it will do for them and if it is necessary at the stage of growth or business development. This causes more financial damage to the organisation rather than improve efficiency.
- Consider the option of lease rather than full purchase- This will allow you to test out different options during lease periods before you settle on one which can then be bought. If your business is still small, it reduces the financial burden and improves operations from an early stage.
Training & support – pick out a supplier with a good training and support package. This will reduce the number of times you need to call them up to correct damages by untrained users. It also assures you that the product will last longer and give intended return on investment.
Article by: @JosephineWanja