When she showed me the steps to email-merge, I got dizzy just watching. Click this, then this, then this… Worse yet, she couldn’t get it to work. Another I.T. guy had set it up for her and it had worked for him.
Having created an email button as part of another project, I thought I would take a crack at it using Excel – if nothing else, to relieve her agony of the button-merry-go-round, or worse yet, sending each email by hand. Each thousand would take her hour and a half, which will guarantee her carpal tunnel syndrome by the time she was done.
In no time – so to speak – I got it working. The operation is simplified to just one button: Send.
Recently I have started picking up Excel VBA for a couple of projects. I’m totally amazed what can be done and the possibilities. Basically Excel macros can be made not only to do the common tasks you would be able to do with day-to-day Excel work, they can also be made to become such a user-friendly little software to automate many of the tasks in an office. Yes, it is not your full-blown software development environment, but it certainly can make repetitive and tedious office work a whole lot easier.
Nowadays most users only make use of a tiny fraction of the power of the software they already own. But with just a little effort, a software developer can design something tailored to your specific needs. It can cut the manpower required for some routine tasks by a factor of 10 or more. In fact I have written something that reduces a task of 4 hours to 15 minutes.
As the cost of manpower rises higher and higher, automation and computerization let’s you stay competitive.
Imagine doing repeated, tedious work with just the push of a button or a few key strokes. You can recoup the costs within months. Then if your work process changes in a couple of years and it is not required, since the investment has been more than paid for, you can simply retire the tool. Or, if you are ready for more features, it may be time to get a more sophisticated system custom built, using the disposable software you have as your blueprint.
That’s what I call “disposable software”.