Both “automate” and “workflow” came into being in the English language in the early 1950s at the beginning of the computer revolution. Prior to that, we could not conceive of what automation meant other than the Horn and Hardart Automat dispensing fast food via a coin-operated vending system: automatic for the people in front, but manually filled by people behind the scenes working in a kitchen.
Today, we are more automated than ever. I save phone numbers in my cell phone, tell Amazon Echo what grocery items to add to my store list that is stored on my phone, and use online ordering for take-out, groceries and general shopping.
As we enter the start of the Internet of Things (IoT) with greater connectivity through our devices in our homes, we can only hope our work environment keeps pace with our home environment.
The workplace of the future or more accurately, workspace of the future (WoF) speaks to greater mobility and flexibility for workers as they start to work without boundaries or required locations to get their jobs done. How can this be possible if we are tied to paper processes? It isn’t.
Paper Puts a Drag On Your Workflow. Operations managers used to refer to the flow of work or projects with a process flow diagram charting out a critical path for maximum efficiency. With greater emphasis on streamlining the everyday flow of work (not just projects), our organizations continue to seek better ways to work efficiently.
Digitizing content and capturing key indicators from the electronic content gives small and large businesses the opportunity to eliminate the drag in their workflow that paper causes. Plus, an electronic workflow means that documents will not be misplaced or lost indefinitely. We participate in the workflow knowing that work can be executed from any location because our content management solution operates in the cloud and with mobile capabilities.
Is this an invasion of our work/life balance? Maybe. Maybe not. While I am responsible for the workflow and have 24/7 access, I am able to keep the work/life balance. Many people have conditioned themselves to monitor news from friends and the media whenever they can, and with just one look at a city sidewalk during lunch hour, I see countless people nose down (eyes down!) focused on their cell phones.
Automating the Repetitive Tasks. The goal is to achieve operational efficiency now that we have a streamlined workflow. The automation of our workflows, especially for repetitive tasks, is only the first step toward a more productive work environment. Eliminating the paper processes and embracing automated workflows will make your staff happier with time freed-up for work that requires more innovative thought.
There is a Better Way. We are on the cusp of change in our work environment as IoT is poised to change how we work. It only makes sense that we embrace the content management technology that makes our organizations smarter and reap the maximum efficiency in all business processes. It doesn’t matter whether you are a small, mid-sized, or large business, all organizations have a desire to automate simple and complex tasks in order to reduce the manual effort that exists across all sorts of businesses. Workflow automation will enhance your days at work, and help you achieve more.
Joanne Novak is a program manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. and is responsible for program development with the company’s Business Intelligence groups, including the Intelligent Information Management (IIM) practice. Her responsibilities are to build sales and customer-facing educational and thought leadership insights as well as strategic initiatives for IIM.