3 Things you should consider before investing in office automation software

and 1 you should be looking forward to

Office automation is one of the best trends to have hit the business environment. It allows for fast and secure storage of information and data exchange or management, bridging the gap between software and hardware solutions.

That sounds more complicated than it should, so here’s a quick thought: Google Docs is one form of office automation.

Before we delve into the 3 concerns regarding office automation, let’s take a look at what shapes it takes and what needs it serves:

Electronic Publishing

Ever since we’ve given up on the quill and the typewriter, most of the things we write find their way on a computer’s keyboard - be it a term paper, a legal document or an internal memo about the newest meeting room management software in use (hey there!). Word processors are widely used, so we don’t think of them as office automation devices any longer. But, if you consider the time they save you and the costs they cut (or the trees they don’t), you start to appreciate what Microsoft Office, Libre Office or Open Office do.

Electronic Communication

Picture this: last year, more than 190 billion emails were being sent every day. Add to those the WhatsApp messages, Google Hangouts, Skype talks, video conferences and internal messaging systems - that number is too big to be handled by phones alone. Keep in mind we left Facebook Messenger out of this one, though some of you probably had office-related discussions on that platform too. But let’s say that those don’t really automate anything - email autoresponders and promotional emails from retailers do. How many do you receive each day?

Electronic Collaboration

Do you use a local file-server? BAM, office automation software runs it. Do you collaborate on cloud docs (like Office 365)? BAM again, office automation software it is. Teamviewer is considered collaborative software too; so is Jing.

Image Processing

Three letters: OCR. Optical Character Recognition. Remember when Google’s captcha made you write letters in a small box to prove you were not a robot? Well, that was crowdsourced OCR. The letters you identified were meant to teach a machine how to distinguish various characters in a less than optimal state. Whenever you run a printed document through an OCR software, you’re automating the task of manually typing each word in a new document. Because that is not fun.

Office Management

Office Management is the new kid on the block. With meeting room management platforms like ours or apps like WhosOff to manage holidays/sick days/free days, office management software saves companies around the world a lot of time, effort and subsequently money.

We won’t boast about what YArooms can do. You can discover that on your own by signing up for a free trial. But hear this about WhosOff : they managed to reduce sick leave time by 23%.

Now that we’ve established how widely adopted office automation is, let’s see the concerns:

Personnel training

One of the biggest hassles with new solutions is the learning curve. The other, creating a usage habit. What most product designers aim to do is reduce cognitive load. As in make things extremely simple to use - after all, as you’re reading this, you have a tab open in a browser which runs alongside other apps, near your phone, maybe a notebook and with a colleague close-by, within hearing distance. That’s a lot of information to take in.

Reducing cognitive load is one of the reasons we’ve revamped our onboarding experience and enforced a minimalist interface design. Office automation is as good as the people who make use of it - so, when you have to choose between several options, have your least tech-savvy friend test it. If they don’t get the hang of it in the first 5 minutes, choose something else.

Costs

The solution you pick should pay for itself. Take into account what it can do to cut operational costs/time. After all, the whole point of automated offices is saving time and money. Also, its payment options should be flexible enough to let you run a test without committing to extremely large fees.

Interoperability

Connect, connect, connect. Chances are, your data needs to move fast from one tool to another. YArooms integrates with Outlook and allows the usage data to be exported (or queried via API). But, more than that, office automation software should work with hardware that you have or that you can buy. For instance, ours has tablet apps for when you want to build Smart Doors, from which you can book rooms fast and without going to your account.

And now, for that 1 thing you should be looking forward to:

More meaningful work

The main reason for which we built YArooms is eliminating one of the menial tasks office managers and office-people in general have to perform each day: booking meetings without overlapping with someone else’s appointments. By doing away with small, repetitive and annoying tasks, we allow our users to do more of the things that matter.

 

Adrian Grigore, MO, YArooms

Written on Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015





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