As a child I remember reading a proverb/quote which stated that when a big or difficult job had to be completed, assign it to the laziest person because he or she would find the quickest way to accomplish it. I’ve always looked for the quickest way of accomplishing tasks, but I think of it as efficiency rather than laziness.

In 1984 I was working in the Dowling College financial aid office. One task I had was creating a list for the payroll department of work/study students and the hours they worked. Every two weeks I would alphabetize timesheets submitted and write out by hand the student names, the number of hours worked, and their rate of pay. Needless to say, this was a monotonous task. After completing a Basic programming course I had the brainstorm of automating the payroll. Keep in mind this was back in the day before personal computer, Macs, Windows, spreadsheets, and other business software. The program reduced the amount of time required to generate the payroll from six hours to two. Thus began my foray into and thirst for automating manual tasks.

Being receptive to change and improvements in processes is the first step in automation. Automation involves the following:

  • work flow analysis to determine if there is a better way of performing tasks

  • reducing and eliminating redundant manual tasks

Benefits of automation include

  • time and money savings resulting from increased productivity and greater accuracy of information