Office automation enables companies to save both time and money. Repetitive computer tasks can often be performed automatically, allowing processes to run much quicker, and without human error. Automation allows company personnel to focus on higher-level responsibilities, resulting in a more productive workforce.
When I was hired at Mentor Worldwide (a medical device manufacturer) in 1999, the reports for their global sales force were being manually run, printed, and mailed once per week. These reports showed the products purchased by customers each week, requiring several reams of paper. By the time sales reps received their reports, some of the earliest reflected sales were more than two weeks old.
A few weeks after explaining how I could improve the process, I developed a paperless reporting system. It automatically processed the sales queries, converted the reports into formatted Excel spreadsheets, and emailed the reports to the reps. Every morning, the sales reps received the details for the prior day, and they soon started asking for other types of reports. Within weeks, they were receiving month-to-date summaries by customer, month-by-month sales comparisons, and various other useful reports.
Web-Based Query System
The sales reps soon discovered they had access to valuable information, and began asking for customized reports. For example, when visiting a customer, they wanted to bring along data about specific product sales over a period of time. Suddenly, my automated system was causing a lot more manual effort for me! Therefore, I developed a web-based query system, that enabled sales reps to select a type of report, choose various parameters, and receive an emailed Excel spreadsheet within minutes. Many sales reps used this tool to produce reports for their customers during face-to-face meetings. This web-based query has been running for more than 10 years, and has processed more than 90,000 queries.
Communications Network Analysis System
When I worked at Sprint's network management center in 1985, we handled customer-reported trouble tickets on a case-by-case basis. This was before Equal Access, when customers had to dial a local access number to connect to their chosen long-distance carrier, before placing a call. Because of these access numbers, and Sprint's still-new fiber optic network, problems frequently occurred. Problems were hard to correct, because the trouble usually cleared up before we could locate the cause.
I discovered that the trouble tickets were being entered into a database each day, for archiving. This gave me an idea. I developed a database application that analyzed the trouble tickets, to determine where many of the problems were occurring, and whether there were any patterns. This information provided us with the necessary data to run tests on various portions of the Sprint network. Whenever we located components or circuits that were failing tests, we had them replaced or repaired. Soon, we began noticing fewer trouble tickets, because the underlying causes were being corrected.
Office automation can be valuable to companies, when potential improvements are identified, and properly addressed. The results can save time, money, and a lot of frustration.