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Understanding the world of office automation

Article provided by Daisy Business Solutions

Office Automation (OA) is a general term that refers to the various computer systems and software used to produce, store, alter and communicate office information. Office automation enables these processes to occur digitally and without human intervention.

The typewriter, copier, and fax machine mechanised formerly manual activities and can be considered the beginnings of office automation.

However, today’s office automation refers to digitising business processes and automated data processing. Thanks to personal computer machinery, easy-to-use software is more accessible than ever. Email replaced the fax, and scanners made copying easier and better. We can also convert hardcopy to digital, and folders have replaced filing cabinets.

But, office automation means more than simply going paperless. The most common misunderstanding made by businesses is to confuse digitisation and automation. Just because your office no longer requires a filing cabinet does not imply that you have an automated filing system.

What’s the difference between information and data?

The word “information” dates back to the 1300s with Old French and Middle English origins. It’s derived from a verb meaning “to inform.” The word “data” comes from a single Latin word ‘datum.’

Data is raw, unorganised facts or figures to be processed to become meaningful at a macro level. On the other hand, information is the same data that has been processed, organised, or given some structure to make it valid or useable.

What is office automation?

Office automation sets out to make work easier by simplifying and automating tasks such as sales, customer engagement, accounting, training, time data management, and many other administrative tasks.

Office automation makes work more accessible, increases efficiency, and accelerates repetitive business processes. Additionally, office automation is repeatable and scalable. It makes it less likely to take the strain when the volumes of transactions in the business process increase.

What is an office automation system?

In general, office automation systems perform a few core functions:

  • Management of data
  • Processing of data
  • Exchanging or moving data
  • Storing data
  • Managing access to the data.

Your computer network or LAN is the heart of office automation; it provides the required communication backbone. But, in the modern world, the LAN has begun to be replaced by the Cloud. The office automation system is a set of technology-based systems on your network or the Cloud that gather, store, process and send data.

 Managing data

There is no doubt that data is valuable and has quite literally become a commodity. Managing and placing controls around data minimises possible errors via established usage processes and policies. It builds trust in the data used to make decisions across your organisation. Companies can respond more efficiently to market changes and customer needs with reliable, up-to-date data.

Processing data

Processing of data is essentially the ‘conversion’ of data to information. Before data is processed, it is helpful to know the expected outcome for the intended information.

During the data processing process, the sensitivity of the data is considered too. Not only is this important in the context of regulatory compliance, but there is also the risk of reputational damage if the data is leaked or incorrectly interpreted.

Exchanging data (sometimes referred to as data lineage)

Data moves – fact. It can move into and out of your company and, in many instances, without your knowledge or control. Office automation requires an element of security workflow to manage this.

Storing and protecting data

It’s happened to all of us at some time or another. That valuable contract, that critical market analysis, or worse, the entire list of your customer base and their buying habits – gone!

Office automation, document management, and data storage go hand-in-hand. To have one without the others makes no sense at all. So, take time to ensure that the office automation solution you choose covers this vital aspect of data management.

Get on top of access to the data

Access control is paramount. There is simply no point in having important, well-processed data that has created valuable information only to leave it lying around for anybody to access. There are security modules in most office automation systems that protect against this.

The advantages of office automation

Office automation systems optimise office procedures by saving time, money and human effort.

Saves time and money

Businesses can save both time and money by successfully using office automation. OA streamlines and automates complex activities that formerly necessitated a dedicated resource and a considerable amount of time. In addition, and thanks to the introduction of cutting-edge computer technologies and network communications, businesses are no longer constrained by geographical boundaries. Thus, you save on both time and money spent on travel.

Another excellent example of saving is through digital storage. It eliminates the need for hard copies and saves paper and the environment.

Drives down costs

Because we all know that time saved is money saved, automating business procedures can save your company a lot of money.

As business activities become automated and we perform jobs with the help of office automation systems, we spend less money on hiring new employees.

Improves accuracy and reduces rework

Where there is doubt, there will be rework. However, well-processed and organised data will reduce doubt. We’ve already mentioned that accurate information allows better, speedier, and defendable decision-making. We also know that data is a valuable commodity, and it needs to be protected. So, be sure the automation technology you select has this built into its design and architecture.

Further still, OA also ensures the following benefits:

  • Process improvement and streamlining
  • Identifying process bottlenecks that human interaction can improve before automating the new and improved workflow
  • Reducing human error
  • Reducing the processing time of databases
  • Increasing the access speed to data
  • Obtaining improved insights into business performance
  • Increased trust in your data and, as a result, the opportunity to make better decisions.

Getting started with office automation

As discussed before, the decision to automate your office goes beyond being paperless or simply mechanising a few laborious business processes.

You will need to consider integration with other software, evaluate the level of reporting and analytics, and always bear in mind regulatory compliance.

Data management professionals have long struggled to balance data with value. Data inherently has no value. The value is in the information, which we know is processed data. Compounded with this is the exponential growth in data in modern times. Office automation systems must consider this by being scalable, reliable, and ‘relatively’ easy to use.

Are you looking for a business solution? Then why not connect with us? We don’t sell the products; we provide solutions with office automation tools.

Daisy Business Solutions is a proud Partner of the NSBC