Business Process Automation.
Recently I was working with a client to track a secondary but key part of their business that was unable to be handled in their existing system. They had been managing to “get by” using a combination of paper and spreadsheets, but all reporting and analysis needed to be manually performed. This wasted valuable staff time trying to collate paper and match against spreadsheet data before tallying and entering into a word document for the final layout!
By the time I was called in, a report for the last six months took the best part of a week to prepare! We discussed their process and the reporting requirements, clearly defined a few previously vague areas and added a few additional “nice to have” features. My usual process from here is to plan the solution and produce a semi-technical “project brief” document for the client so we both have a clear understanding of what is going to be delivered. Once agreed and signed off, I get started on building the solution.
Solutions (No, not stuff dissolved in water! –Business Solutions.)
Making the resulting custom application easy to learn and use is perhaps the key requirement and is seldom specified by the client. A working solution that requires a “pilots license” or weeks of training to use is a very poor result. I put a lot of focus on the “User Interface” or screen layouts to ensure a simple and logical flow, while still providing summaries and more detailed information when needed. Further visual aids are available, with colour coding of exceptions or highlights to give feedback at a glance. Most of my clients need a database to store the information in a predefined format, but this is hidden behind the simplicity of the user interface screen layouts.
Some users, particularly engineers, prefer the familiarity of Spreadsheets. These too can be simplified and automated with the additional option to connect to databases for enhanced stability and referencing. One client had their entire parts list stored in each of hundreds of different workbooks, each around 30MB. Once we moved the parts list to a common database the workbooks size dropped to well under 1MB! And the disk that was almost full suddenly had space available. As an added bonus calculation speed increased too!
It’s the little things that make the difference, saving from just a few minutes a day to over a week as in the original example. Staff are happier not having to grind through awkward repetitive tasks and can now focus on their key tasks, networks run better and faster and storage space is freed thanks to optimised data storage and retrieval. Managers now have accurate and current information to base judgement calls on and can see trends over time.
Call ProcessIT now to discuss how we can help make your office a happier and more productive place and save you wasting wages on unproductive tasks…
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