The OfficeScope Spotlight

To Automate or Not to Automate: THAT is the Question!

It’s the age-old question that’s plagued people for many years.  It’s probably one of the most critical decisions a business will ever make.  And while it may not hold as much gravitas as Shakespeare’s age-old quandary, the decision to streamline the business infrastructure CAN mean life or death for your company.  To automate or not to automate?  Maybe that’s the REAL question!

Automation is nothing new – especially when referring to business-related content management and workflow.  Today’s content infrastructures are complex — with so many levels of routing and approvals that it only makes sense to aspire for something better.  By eliminating the need to manually route, file and store documents – business just gets done faster.   Open and shut argument in favor of automation, right?  Not so fast.

Automated workflow definitely has its place in the paperless office, but it’s not always the universal solution.  While easy tasks such as online proofing and routing pathways can be facilitated to save time and reduce errors, you don’t want to give up total control.  That’s why I prefer the term “Streamlined Workflow.”  By its very definition, streamlining means automating where you can, and simplifying process where you cannot.

As my boss says, it’s about getting employees to a model that uses “the fewest clicks possible.”  Here, we like to relate efficient content workflow to a strong golf game.  The winner is the player who takes the fewest number of swings to get the ball in the hole.  That’s what streamlined workflow is all about.

A powerful yet streamlined content management solution retains the importance of human input and intervention.  Highly repetitive tasks across all business units are automated, freeing the employee to add more value directly to the content itself.  The best workflow tool does not attempt to take away or remove the ability to contribute – and allows users to take over the process when necessary.  As a result, any individual value-added decision becomes that much more strategic.

To be effective, streamlined content management helps customers literally view the benefits of a paperless business via automated workflows in flowcharts.  If they’re working, current workflows don’t have to be changed – but they can be.  Users benefit from the power to visually track straight-lined processes, analyze project progress, and identify inefficiencies.  Workflow gaps are automatically identified so the business can then intervene – taking the right strategy for corrective action.  It’s the perfect combination of automated and manual intervention that makes the process work.

When you think about it, the decision to automate content workflow is one of the toughest calls a company can make.  The best solution allows users to automate the manual, highly repetitive tasks that drag cost efficiencies — while still leaving room for human intervention to address the most strategic issues.  Focusing on streamlined workflow processes is the only true way to unlock the power of today’s content management offerings.

To Be or Not to Be?  Tell Shakespeare perhaps the answer to that question lies somewhere in between.