Business musings

Articles and thoughts about information technology

10
Feb
Posted by Matt Stocker, stored in: Performance Improvement  Technology & Web  

pile-of-papersChances are, if you are anything like most businesses, you have a lot of paper to deal with in your office and in your job. The fact is, we rely to a large extent on paper: to communicate, to record, to remind, to sell. The promise of a paper free office remains a technological fantasy for many.

However, it is important to recognise the scalability issues of paper as a technology: paper can only be in one place at one time so it doesn’t work well across multiple sites; revision control is tricky; and it can be hard to back up – do you have duplicate copies of everything if worst came to the worst?

Even if we cannot remove paper entirely, there are things we can do to consign it to a supporting role rather than the main deal within a business.

Steps to creating a paperless office

1. Analysing your processes

The first idea to grasp is the fact that paper usually relates to a process or processes within your organisation. Understanding this will provide a solid foundation for beginning to deal with the paper as the processes themselves provide the structural foundation for creating a paperless office. By analysing the papers for clues about the activities the paper itself represents and following this paper through the system, you can outline your processes, giving you an accurate view of ‘now’.

2. Revising your processes

The next step is to revise your processes in order to maximise efficiency. This includes:

  • Eliminating bottle necks and their resulting backlogs
  • Removing unecessary steps within the process(es)
  • Assessing crossover and interdependency of processes within the wider organisation to ensure integration
  • And, overall, designing as lean a process as possible.

Value stream mapping may be a good tool to use at this stage. The people involved in each process within your organisation will also be a vital source of information and feedback as they are the people on the ground who are involved in the processes day-in, day-out.

3. Integrating paper and technology

Having created a coherent set of lean processes, the next challenge is to reduce the use of paper where possible. This can be done by assessing the processes to find out which parts of them can be automated and then developing an IT and technology solution that has your best practice processes inherently embedded into its system. In other words, the IT and technology solution reflects and is built around your processes, rather than the processes being built around the technology.

4. Sustainable continuous improvement

Once you have found a solution that works for your organisation as a whole and that maximises your efficiency and effectiveness, it is important to maintain the momentum of improvement. Ongoing assessment and revision will ensure that as your organisation grows and develops your processes continue to support the delivery of your organisation’s objectives. New technology is also continually emerging that may provide a solution to paper based systems where a solution did not previously exist. Staying abreast of these developments allows you to continually improve organisational performance and efficiency.

5. Reducing risk

Although it is not always possible to eliminate the use of paper completely, you should not be relying on paper for mission critical functions. However, neither should you be relying on technology without a business continuity plan in place. Whatever system and solution you are using, you should always make sure that fail-safes and redundancies are built into the process(es).

If you would like any advice or support in creating a paperless office for your organisation, please contact me or call me on 02476 100 193 – I would love to help!

26
Jan
Posted by Matt Stocker, stored in: Technology & Web  

Today is a very exciting day as it is Matt Stocker Ltd’s first birthday!

However, it is also a very special day for another reason: the Apple iSlate (or iPad, Magic Slate, iTablet, or whatever it will be called) is due to be announced!

Trawling the web for the Apple iSlate reveals much rumour and speculation as to the expected design form, price, positioning, connectivity and interface. The key area of agreement seems to settle around the idea of a 10-inch touchscreen based device with 3G connectivity. iSlate.org has catalogued many of the rumours and expectations from the marketplace, as have many other technology sites such as engadget.com, pocket-lint.com, gizmodo.com and macrumors.com.

From a product design and development perspective, the speculative design mock-ups and graphics are hugely interesting. People seem to have taken three different starting points from Apple’s existing product portfolio – the Macbook Pro, the iPhone and the iMac.

  • The Macbook Pro angle suggests a dual screen design with touchscreen keyboard running OS X (very unlikely).
  • The iPhone angle suggests what amounts to an iPhone on steroids, with enough room to display many more app icons on screen and potentially resolution independent apps (likely).
  • The iMac angle suggests a miniaturised iMac design also running a touchscreen version of OS X with either a slide out keyboard, touchscreen keyboard or an additional plugin keyboard and stand (touchscreen keyboard – very likely, additional keyboard – likely, slide out keyboard – very, very unlikely).

Whilst the speculative designs are good, the actual Apple product is likely to innovate across the whole gamut of product purpose, design, interface, application delivery and implementation.

Whatever the iSlate/iPad/Magic Slate/iTablet turns out to be, I expect it to be a product that takes elements of the above and mixes these with entirely new concepts to create a new genre/niche in the same way that the iPhone has. I for one am waiting with baited breath to find out!