1. Workflow software does the jobs that human beings do not want to be bothered with or cannot logistically do on their own. Workflow software provides a way for computers to “achieve their highest potential” so that humans can address more important tasks (White, 2003). Workflow software has become so common that many people do not realize just how many tasks it does within the computer in order to make technology more applicable and easy to use. Further, workflow software enables humans to save time by “automating routines and sub routines” that a great deal of time would be spent on otherwise (White, 2003). The most obvious example is email filtering. If humans had to filter their own email they would spend more time engaging in this task and less time would be available to get on with other more important things. Email filtering allows the computer to do the filing so only the most important or desired messages can be read and the rest can be ignored. This benefits businesses in all sectors because it frees up time for employees to improve productivity by working on more pressing tasks. Another good example is data entry. Work flow software enables those entering data to reduce the amount of time they spend entering the same information into multiple forms. Medical transcriptionists are a good example of a business that benefits from workflow software with regards to data entry. A final example of workflow software is in the retail business sector because it deals with a large amount of online and phone orders. Workflow software makes these processes more efficient by automating order processing, refunds and merchandising tracking (White, 2003).
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2. There are many positive aspects of working with workflow software. The most important benefit is the time aspect described above. In addition, another benefit is the speed that messages can be spread among people in order to improve the efficiency and speed of getting things done. Workflow software is similar to the historical practice of sending messages by a messenger (Ingelsby, 1998). As technology has advanced over the years, email, faxes and instant messaging have become the avenues for getting information from one person to another (Ingelsby, 1998). As technology advances and improves the speed of getting things done, it also causes humans to discover new ways that it slows them down. To return to an example given above – as email gained in popularity it soon became apparent that filtering was a time consuming task and workflow software helped solve that problem.
Another important benefit to workflow software is the increased amount of customer or patient attention one receives. The medical field is an excellent example of a sector of society that utilizes workflow software to improve the overall care that patients receive. When doctors utilize workflow software to free up their time as well as spread information among all caregivers then patients receive faster and more high quality care (Ingelsby, 1998). Utilizing workflow software, doctors are able to “streamline patient care, manage disease prevention and handle clinical care delivery better” (Ingelsby, 1998). At the same time, workflow software can match the right people with the right jobs (Ingelsby, 1998). Workflow software makes jobs easier and speedier but it does not do the work for them. Therefore, people who do jobs associated with workflow software must understand the importance of using it to improve customer or patient care.
3. One negative to using workflow software applies directly to what was discussed at the end of the last question. The right people have to be chosen for each specific job (Ingelsby, 1998). When the wrong people are chosen for the job it can ultimately defeat the purpose of using software designed to make jobs easier and more efficient. Another negative is the lack of face to face conversation and interaction that takes place in some business sectors that use workflow software (Friedman, 2007). For example, the retail industry relies on automated systems to make ordering and delivering goods faster. While this can certainly improve customer satisfaction it can also eliminate the joy of human interaction during business transactions.
4. Despite the few negatives, I think workflow software is here to stay. At the same time, I also think that workflow software will continue to be enhanced as humans find more ways that it can free up time and make things run more smoothly. According to Friedman, workflow software has contributed to the flatness of the world by eliminating human contact (Friedman, 2007). Friedman goes on to suggest that this flattens the global playing field by eliminating much of the competition that existed before the twenty-first century (Friedman, 2007). Friedman’s main problem with the flattening of the world is that it takes away important opportunities from American citizens (Friedman, 2007). In this way, I agree that workflow software will continue to flatten the world. As more and more jobs are outsourced to other countries and more and more jobs are eliminated because of workflow software, many Americans will be forced to find a new profession or find a less prestigious job to make ends meet (Friedman, 2007). Ultimately, I think workflow software is a vital component of any business because it improves the capacity for productivity and profit. At the same time, Friedman makes some important and valid points regarding workflow software and its implications in the lives of hard working Americans. Therefore, my opinion regarding workflow software is that it is here to stay and will continue to be improved upon. American corporations have a responsibility to ensure that the workflow software that they utilize benefits American workers. I also agree with Friedman that Americans should be encouraged to receive training in fields that rely on human behavior rather than computer programming (Friedman, 2007). In order to prevent further flattening it is important that Americans can rely on certain jobs that require direct application of skills that cannot be replaced with workflow software.
Friedman, Thomas L. (2007). The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first century.
New York: Picador USA.
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