WORD PROCESSING-EQUIPMENT OR CONCEPT?
Increasing administrative costs in recent years have made the production of business communications a major expense and one that will continue to rise. One way to help control the cost of business communications is to make the processing of documents more effective and efficient through the use of current technology. Word processing equipment has been around for more than twenty years. However, during the last decade it has really made an impact on the business world.
There are two major contributing factors to this increased impact. The first is technological advances made in the area of equipment manufacturing. The second, and just as important, is the acceptance of the concept of word processing as a system rather than just a piece of hardware.
Word processing first appeared in the business environment on a widely distributed basis in 1964. Since that time, the question, ?What is word processing?? has been heard all over the country. When this question is asked, it is usually aimed primarily at hardware. But word processing should not be thought of as a piece of equipment; rather it is a concept for improving the efficiency of producing business communications. Equipment is but one of several tools used in the construction of a word processing system. Word processing is now being accepted as the capability to transform ideas into written word by employing procedures, equipment, and people. These three ingredients make word processing a viable solution to increasing the efficiency and reducing the cost of producing business communications.
The next question is usually, ?How does word processing actually work?? Very simply stated, text material can be stored and retrieved later for manipulation during revision cycles. This process eliminates the need for lengthy rekeying due to errors or changes in the document. This process is ideal for long documents or any document that goes through several revision cycles. Accuracy and quality are increased because you are only rekeying changed portions of the document. Processing time is greatly reduced for all work produced on word processing equipment.
This simple explanation has discussed the benefits available through word processing. Reductions of processing or keyboarding time and increases in quality and accuracy are the most important benefits to be gained from word processing. These benefits can only be gained, however, by using the three tools discussed earlier to build your word processing system.
Procedures are the backbone of any word processing system. Automation is not a panacea in itself. However, procedures to dictate what, how, and when this equipment should be used will remove many of your administrative burdens. Procedures should be implemented whether you are employing a centralized or decentralized processing environment. There should be two sets of procedures: one for the personnel submitting work to be processed and another for the operators.
The author?s manual should include a detailed system description, along with instructions on how to submit work and what can be expected of the system. When writing these procedures, keep in mind that they are not cast in concrete. Procedures should be reviewed every six months and, as circumstances change, revised and rewritten. The following items should be considered for inclusion in the author?s manual:
Goals of the word processing system
Word flow diagrams
Special projection scheduling
Additional services; e.g., communications, telex, facsimiles
This manual is intended to inform the author or word originator how to effectively utilize the resources available. If these guidelines are followed, your authors should know what to submit, how to submit it, and what to expect in terms of output. With this accomplished, you have taken a giant stride toward ensuring the effectiveness of your word processing system.
The operator?s manual should include equipment, system, and document information as well as office standards. This manual should be a comprehensive guide outlining exactly what is expected and who is responsible. The following items should be considered for the inclusion in the operator?s manual:
Equipment maintenance instructions (on and off instructions, etc.)
Work flow diagrams
Distribution of work
Recordkeeping instructions and forms
Document and machine set-ups (include samples)
Explanation of company standards
This guide is not only informative for full-time employees, but it is especially helpful in training temporaries and part-time employees. This manual should contain information necessary to accomplish all functions of the job other than training to use the equipment.
Procedures really are the foundation that our system will be built on. The advances in technology in word processing have been phenomenal in the last ten years. Because of increases technology, it is very important to control this area, and the only way to do that is through a systematic procedural approach.
Selecting equipment for a word processing installation is without a doubt a difficult task. Technical information about hardware and software is readily available through sources like trade journals, vendors, consumer reports, consulting firms, and word processing associations. The problem arises in applying the information you have compiled to the needs of your organization. Theses needs are the foundation on which you design your system and should be the basis on which you make your equipment selection.
The first step in evaluating the type of equipment needed is to ascertain the types of work performed in your organization. You should break down by percentages the instances of short and long letters and memos, repetitive letter, reports, statistical work, forms, printing applications, and communications use. The complexity of text editing and manipulation should be determined for each of these categories. With this information, you should be able to decide on a category of equipment to fit your needs. Every organization?s needs and applications for word processing equipment are different. No single type of equipment, therefore, is the best for all situations. But one of the types available will fit into and meet your word processing needs.
Personnel is the last building block in constructing your word processing system. It is not listed last because of order of importance, however, A well-qualified staff will mean the difference between success and failure. The traditional methods of producing documents in the office have changed. The qualifications needed for a good word processor can be broken down into tangible and intangible key factors. In the tangible area there are seven basic background skills that are necessary:
Fast and accurate keyboarding
Transcription of dictation
Use of resource materials
Concepts and theory of word processing
Intangible personality traits represent a large area of qualifications that are just as necessary:
A service attitude-proffesional, businesslike, cooperative, and positive
A sense of humor
Aptitude for machines
Ability to concentrate
Good logical problem-solving skills
Responsibility, sense of pride in work
Good team attitude, respect for standard procedures
This formula is not foolproof; an individual with these qualifications still may not make a good word processing operator. However, an individual possessing these skills is certainly a well-qualified applicant for word processing positions and could be an asset to your word processing system.
The answer to the question, ?What is word processing?? is that it is a concept. This concept is based on three ingredients
Procedures dictate what, how, and when paperwork will be produced.
The equipment is the tool to accomplish the result.
Word processing personnel actually produce the result, using procedures and the equipment.
By employing all three ingredients you should be able to greatly increase the efficiency of processing paperwork in your office.
?Venice? Encyclopedia of Britannica Online. [Accessed January 3 2000]
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. World Geography Today. Austin TX: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997