All business tends to have a level or complexity that is eased by the use of technology. For some businesses, it is not about complexity but production; workers are expected to get a certain amount of work done each and everyday. Good examples are automated processes in databases that simplify the sending of marketing literature based on user input or accounting software simplifies the entry of accounting transactions. Once a system is setup and running, the daily workflow is simplified to a certain extent and the flow of production can be greatly enhanced.
To a large extent my role as a business advisor, mentor and trainer is to help find solutions for these problems; often using the existing tools on hand. Usually a few hours for training on specific tools or features does the trick and end user learns to better leverage the software tools they have.
What my clients seek is solution to some issue and what I hope to do is migrate any of these business bottlenecks into smooth flowing processes. Ultimately, I want to save my clients both time and money. Sometimes the solution is remarkably simple. I want to focus on one such solution. Creating Templates is a very effective way of fast tracking the creation of often repeated tasks, such as presentations, email messages, marketing literature, spreadsheets, financial statements, common letters and so much more. In almost every software application that I train in there is a template feature. Outlook for example you can create a library of responses for almost anything marketing related. I now have an extensive library of responses so when I get a requests for information the process is very simple and consumes so very little time. In Excel most users including myself will create the same or similar spreadsheets all of the time. I now have a series of templates for things like financial statements for clients, tracking information, payroll slips and much more. Each of these templates not only saves me time but gives me the flexibility of only having to make minor changes to adapt them for some other purpose.
Microsoft Word comes bundled with many templates that you can easily adapt for your own purposes and re-save as a template. Of course, you can also create your own easy enough. When creating your own template in any Office program, you should save the template to the proper directory so that the program will find it when you browse for the file. Word for example will list your template in the new browse window when you want to browse for a template to base your new document on. If you don’t save it to the proper Microsoft template folder, you can still open it, but you will have to browse your PC for it.
One program that is often forgotten is PowerPoint. For those that have to use this program day in day out, it can be a lot of work to create a new presentation. There is content that needs to be organized into a flowing presentation. Then there is creating the slides that will tell that story; formatting the slides, including graphics, charts, videos, audio, recording narrations, setting up slide timings if automated and much more. For those get into the more advanced stuff, there is creating and controlling animations, transition effects, creating interactive flow and more. You can count on spending a good part of a day or two creating a new presentation. With a saved templates that has the style and layouts you need already configured, you can spend more time on the substance of the presentation knowing the frills are already taken care of. While in this article I mainly talked about MS-Office, that application of template goes behind that. I have templates in Adobe programs, audio creating/editing applications and anywhere where I am likely to be doing the same repetitive task frequently.
If you like me do many of the same tasks over again, look into templates and see how they can help you with your daily work flow.