Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Office Automation and Software

In the fast paced world of today, anything that can make things easier or save someone time is a must have. We have four types of office automation and three group software programs that each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

The first type is unified messaging. We utilize the conveniences of e-mail and voice mail. The main advantage of e-mail is saving money on long distance phone calls. Our company saves thousands of dollars in long distance charges because most of the time an e-mail can get the same message across that phone calls used to. One disadvantage of e-mail is it takes a little bit longer to type a message than to just call someone. Also, messages sent through e-mail may sometimes get misunderstood. Tone of voice and body language can be an indicator to the meaning of a comment, without those, it is sometimes hard to understand the person’s message. When using e-mail we need to remember that the other person cannot see or hear our thoughts.
The second type of office automation we use is facsimile. One advantage to the facsimile is that it is a time saver. Instead of mailing documents and waiting days, we use faxes to send them immediately. The obvious disadvantage is that we can only fax a copy of a document and cannot send the original. We still need mail to send originals. Another disadvantage of faxes is the lack of confidentiality. Faxes can get intercepted on either end and leave a person skeptical about using fax for anything classified.

The third type of office automation is electronic filing. Since we use computers for the majority of our work here, we need a place to save it all. We have numerous drives to save our work in and each employee has their own file to save their work. The advantage of having our own files on the hard drive is space.

There is much more space available than on CDs or floppy disks. The disadvantage of saving our data on the different drives is not being able to access that work from home or on the road. I guess this could be looked at an advantage to some people who don’t want to work from home. We also still have floppy disks to save documents on. They do not get used very much because any computer we log on to we can access the hard drives. The disadvantages to floppy disks are the space. They cannot hold as much data as a hard drive. The advantage of floppy disks is that we can take them anywhere.
The final type of office automation is image processing. Copy machines are probably used more than any other office equipment. When it comes to our aircraft paperwork and logbooks, we do not use electronic. The FAA still requires paper logbooks therefore most paperwork is copied and copied some more. The huge advantage of having copy machines is that a duplicate can be made quickly. Many times we are in a hurry to get an aircraft out the door and do not have time to enter data into our Computerized Maintenance Program so I make copies of all of the paperwork and enter it at a later time. Without copy machines our printers would get much more use than what they were made to handle. The only disadvantages I can see with copy machines are if they are jammed or broken. Sometimes I spend too much time trying to get a machine to work and end up reprinting it. In that way, I guess copy machines can be a headache to people who rely on them in a pinch.

The first of the three group collaborative software programs that we have here is Lotus Notes. Lotus Notes is our e-mail and organization software program. Besides e-mailing others, we also use it to schedule appointments, keep track of “to do” items, and organize addresses and phone numbers. I use Lotus Notes religiously.

I rarely write anything down on a paper calendar because it is so much easier to schedule things in Lotus, which will eventually remind me of them. That is one advantage to using Lotus, another is having a central location for everything. I do not use a rolodex or have numbers scattered about, they are all in one place. A disadvantage to Lotus is that it runs on the “L” drive and if it is down so is our e-mail. We can always use our own accounts like Yahoo, etc. but for people that do not have any other e-mail, it can be a pain when it is down. The second group software program is our Intranet. Our Intranet can be accessed from any computer at any site. It gives our company a good way to communicate information across all our sites. A huge advantage of the Intranet is having one place to go to find information about the company. It is all right at our fingertips. The disadvantage of the Intranet is that it is the only place to find some information so if it is down, we are left out in the cold.

The final group software program we have is our CD-ROM server. I used to work in the library so this one is near and dear to me. The CD-ROM server is a program that lets everyone see the publications we hold on CD-ROM in our library. It runs on a remote desktop so each user that logs in is seeing the same icons and data. The disadvantage to that is anyone can go on and change the settings and believe me they do. The advantage to having our CD-ROMs on a server is that the mechanics can look at the pub they want without having to go to the library and check them out.

Those are the main office automation and software programs we have that I know about and use. I am sure there are others that different departments use that I don’t know about.

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