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Computers Week 3 Automation
In any office environment in the current business world there is some level of office automation occurring. The most commonly used automation process is a computer system that is linked by each user into a main server so that the flow of information is accurate and simple to manage. Office automation is loosely defined as all the hardware such as computers and software used to collect, maintain and share information needed to conduct the business of a company. It is the intention of this paper to review the office automation of one company, Network Truck Insurance Services Inc (NTIS), and its advantages and disadvantages of each type of software used.
Since the purpose of automation is to make the use and sharing of data easier, NTIS has created a computer system that allows a computer at each desk to connect to a shared server where the main company data is saved. This allows each employee to have access to the necessary client information and make changes to it as needed, but also allows others to instantly see what changes have been made and ensure the accuracy of the work being done. This type of information sharing is vital in an office where there is more than one person with access to this information or with the ability to change it. The server houses the main client database where a large amount of the daily work is completed. This database holds all the client policy information as well as all the form letters that are used regularly. Each individual computer may also hold some programs that are specific to the job of the user, this writer??™s computer for example, has access to a finance company database that others do not have the password for. The server and other commonly used programs will automatically perform a weekly off site back up of itself to ensure the company that in the event that the server crashed, the client information is not compromised. This process is done off site with a virtual server as it is cost effective and prevents our office from having to find safe storage for the portable storage devices.
NTIS also does business with several insurance companies who have created web based programs in which agents can access and change policy holder information easily via the internet. This type of automation creates faster response times, efficient information processing and increase the communication abilities of all who are involved. This way of doing business has increased the efficiency with such effectiveness that the need for phone assistance has dwindled to the point that it is almost unnecessary. This also ensures that both the agent and insurance company are in contact and have the ability to see the same information no matter which entity an insured might contact. This creates a seamless service to the client and can increase the company retention; a happy well informed client who knows that his or her agent and insurance company communicate accurately is more likely to renew his or her policy.
Office automation has many positives but can also create some problems. The main issues is with all the computers being tied to the server, if the server crashes there is not one working computer in the office and customer service can suffer greatly. With the programs that are independently loaded on computers, if someone needs to take a day off, the information specific to his or her computer is not available to everyone unless passwords are provide. This can cause a security issue depending on the information available. The off site back up is great for storage problems and such, however, it is only performed once a week and in the interim time a lot of data can be lost causing untold problems for employees and clients alike. The web based programs are also great in so many ways but they also have a downside. If the internet goes down or is operating slowly, both the agent and insured are unable to have access to vital information. The web based programs also take extensive training which can be cost consuming. Many companies have to create departments to simply handle the training and IT maintenance needed for this type of endeavor.
Office automation is necessary to create an environment where information can be shared quickly and easily by all employees and customers. To ensure that it is effective, a fair amount of research and education should go into it before committing to a certain system. In the case of NTIS, the company has to be concerned not only with its own automation but also how its system will work with outside insurance companies and while it does not bear the cost of the training it must provide employees with time to learn. Each new process creates a new dynamic and can bring positive energy into the business environ. Automation has been a part of business for a long time, with new technology comes new knowledge and the world of automation continues to grow, the employees of NTIS look forward to what technology will bring its way.