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Role of personal computer as a tool in office automation.

Every Manager engages in some information - handling activities which contributes to an important objective, but which in themselves are:

* Unchallenging

* Repetitive

* Irritating

* Boring

* Tedious

Such activities which create stress because they are time - consuming but necessary are the ones which are appropriate application of Personal Computer based tools, which I am here to address. The use of Personal Computer based tools is like riding a bicycle, easy, even second nature, once you know-how, but the learning of it wasn't effortless. You need not change your decision making style to improve on the quality of your decisions by utilising a Personal Computer, whether you make decision, quickly or you deliberate slowly or whether you use complex mathematical models or gut feel, these new tools will help you not only save, find, organise and analysed your data easily, they will help you see from new perspective, perhaps with new insight that will improve the quality of decisions without changing the style in which they are made.

The derive maximum benefits from the hours and money you will soon be investing, you want to ensure that, whatever other attributes it may have, the configuration you eventually acquires:-

1. Meet your need

2. Simple to learn

3. Pleasant to use

4. Reliable

To meet these objectives you need to - Define and specify your needs in appropriate terms to ensure that your eventual selection of software and hardware met your needs. Follows a logical evaluation/decision/action sequence for selection of software, hardware and the source to ensure that they not only meet your needs but have adequate quality and reliability.

Validate your choices of software and hardware before acquiring them, to ensure that they are pleasant and easy to use, follow the steps as I will outline in my presentation, you will have a frame work for acquiring an optional configuration in implementing your applications.

The Evaluation/Decision/Action Sequence

1. Identify your information-related activities and wants

2. Decide which high-priority activities to implement

3. Map appropriate categories of software to selected activities

4. Choose "must-have" functional characteristics within a generic category

5. Estimate capacity requirements

6. Identify special needs or preferences in hardware, operating systems, communications, or provisions for the future

7. Select specific software packages

8. Select your hardware

9. Select your source

10. Validate your selections with a benchmark test

11. Acquire, install and learn to operate your system

12. Set up your application and use it!

1. Identify your Activities: Your first step is to identify those activities and information-related needs for which micro-based tools are suitable. A checklist will aid you in scanning your activities and needs for possibilities.

2. Decide Which Activities Are to be Implemented: A brief overview of the generic categories of problem-solving software should be done so that you may begin to think of your business information needs and information-related activities and problems in the context of micro-based tools.

3. Map Appropriate Generic Categories of Software to Selected Activities. Any uncertainty can be resolved in the following step.

4. Select Functional Characteristics You Require within a Generic Category: Having identified your high-payoff activities and the possible generic categories of software which will support them. The various factors which should be considered when selecting software; then presents a detailed description of the functional characteristics of each of the generic categories of software to aid you in identifying further the proper categories, and to help you choose those functions you must have.

5. Estimate Your Capacity Requirements: The functional characteristics of software which you must have, together with your capacity requirements, will enable you to identify those packages which meet your needs.

6. Select Feasible Subset of Specific Packages or Optimal Package: One of the most important decisions you are going to make is the selection of your specific packages. If your microcomputer is to be a tool for effectiveness rather than a frustrating time waster, this choice should be made prior to that of hardware wherever possible. The vender providing the computer should put together all the elements for making a software selection: your functional requirements, capacity requirements and general criteria by which to evaluate any software satisfying the aforementioned. He should also provide charts identifying which functional characteristics are provided by each of a number of specific packages in each generic category. While these charts are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive, they will assist you in providing a framework within which you can evaluate any software that may come to your attention from whatever source.

It may not seem worth spending much time analysing various software options when off-the-shelf packages are so inexpensive; most are well under Rs. 5000 although they represent tens or hundreds of thousands in development costs. But it is not the money we are interested in saving, it is your time, the time you will spend in learning and in using the software. A poor choice can lead to much more time wasted than would have been spent up front in a more informed selection process.

Numerous would-be micro-users have rushed to buy a machine in their eagerness to get going, only to find later that the software that would have best suited them is not available for the machine they bought, or that the machine does not have adequate capacity to handle all the data they will have, or that there are other problems.

7. Identify Special Need or Preferences in Hardware, Operating Systems, Communication, or Provisions for the Future.: Although it would be premature to acquire your hardware before identifying specific software packages, you do want to constrain your ultimate choice to take into consideration any special preferences or needs you may have. Your reasons may be technical, e.g. for a specific operating system eventually to tie into a company network; or very practical, e.g. several close associates have one and with a similar expertise can be shared and mutual backup can be provided.

Your own attitude toward providing for the future may also influence your choice of hardware: Do you care whether it will be possible to expand the capacity of your system at some future time? Or do you just want to get a specific problem solved as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible?

8. Select Your Hardware: Having selected specific software, you are ready to determine which hardware best supports your application. For selecting hardware you will need an understanding of the types of devices that may comprise a hardware configuration, the kinds of functional and performance characteristics they may have, specifications for various manufacturers' products and models, and a rationale for choosing among them.

9. Select Your Source: From what source you should obtain your software, hardware and service is not a decision to be made lightly. There are numerous alternatives available, some better than others. A poor choice can cause you much irritation and lost time.

You will want to ensure that the hardware you choose fully supports your application and the software you have chosen. But you also want to be sure that the source from which you obtain service will truly support you. So before purchasing hardware, you should choose your dealer, and choose carefully. The source from which you obtain your equipment can make a very large difference later, perhaps at a critical moment in your business activities. Service, support, possibly training, and assistance vary greatly from one source to another.

In companies which have already initiated a corporate support programme for managerial computing, this key area will be simpler to deal with successfully.

10. Validate Your Choice with a Benchmark Test: An important step in a correct acquisition is the simple "try before you buy" approach. And the more closely your try-out of the configuration you have tentatively selected resembles what you will actually be doing with it, the less likely will be unpleasant surprises later.

11. Acquire, Install and Learn to Operate Your System.

12. Set Up Your Application and Use It Effectively.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Karamat, Parwaiz
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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