Automation, Automation, Automation

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It’s Saturday afternoon and we’ve had a great day so far, gearing up now to spend the evening tucking into a nice bit of Spanish tapas with friends, so as the sky’s darken and the rain sets in and my partner puts her poor pregnant swollen ankles up before we set off, my mind starts to wander remembering days past where I was faced with providing improved business processes and the way it made me feel.

Feelings? well yes, where do you begin when faced with the challenge of automating? What are the objectives of adding automation? And why do they want more automation?

These and many more questions are what ran through my head all those years back and unfortunately at that time I could only see my immediate environment the things we did every day; the things we were trained to do…. So where do you go, what can you do and more importantly how do you do it……

In many companies there are tools of the trade, the desktop applications, the server software, and the workflow systems, in isolation they all perform the task admirably, the tasks we or our predecessors installed them for. But as the saying goes, beauty is only skin deep and all of these channels of creation have a much deeper hidden power, a power that is normally only tapped into by software solution experts, but with a little effort, a little learning and a lot of reading, you can uncover the powers and start to appreciate what it is that you can automate.

I posted a while back an example of using Photoshop actions and how people in my experience do little but ignore them, actions that can be made into droplets for easy drag and drop, so why would people want to explore the Applescript or Javascript capabilities of Photoshop…. Or any of the desktop applications for that matter…. Look at what OSX has to offer, a rich Unix OS with scripting capabilities beyond your imagination, Apple even provide a way for the end user to access this scripting in an easy to use UI, yet how many bother to explore what Automator can do for them to improve their day to day working efficiency?

Looking beyond that and into the workflow systems, it is widely believed that the technical guys come up with all the ideas and plans to improve the flow of information, this is true to a certain degree, but very short sighted, there are a whole host of people that need input into the development of a workflow, as they will inevitably go beyond just having a file input, some processing and then a file output, there maybe for instance some business intelligence that is captured along the way, information that is useful to someone, if not only to justify the workflows existence in the first place….. yes I have heard the old “why are we paying XXXX for the support on this system each year” well with out the business intelligence to say “well it processes 500,000 pdfs a year for us” for example, business decisions can be made out of the context of the operation. (there are plenty of examples I could use here)

So remember that automation for any pre-media operational step be it user, application, server or business needs to be analyzed, measured for it’s return and then pitched/promoted for it ability to save money or improve business. Never think that something simple is not worth it, if it saves time, then it saves money. And always talk to others about your ideas, no innovation on this planet was ever created by a single persons input and this is the same in pre-media, share collaborate and expand on everything you think.

Doh…. look at this, I even managed to close my laptop before the blog posted and we went off to stuff our faces, so after a nights sleep ontop of 22 tapas dishes between four people I finally post this properly!

Author: Gary George

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2 Responses to “Automation, Automation, Automation”

  1. Shirley Hicks Says:

    Actually, I’m back at school, taking computer science for this very reason. I think that workflow automation is one of the key tools for keeping the printing industry profitable. The tools are there, it’s a matter of learning to use them. Talk to me again in another nine months.

    • tele2002 Says:

      That’s great Shirley, we see automation being one of the ways companies will manage profitable growth over the coming years. Good on you for taking computer sciences it will put you in a good position for the future in or out of pre-media/pre-press/print.

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