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Start Page: Your next office upgrade: smarter staff!

July 31, 2013
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Kim BrandHow do you do more with less? Simple answer: smarter staff! Skip the next generation of hardware or software and concentrate on an upgrade strategy that always pays dividends: training.

Modern PCs are hundreds of times more powerful than those I sold 10 years ago. They are also cheaper and more reliable. Tablets and mobile phones are not just becoming more popular; PCs aren’t selling as well because the jobs they are tasked with can be easily done by the PCs you bought three years ago. The jobs most law firms do with all this technology haven’t changed much and aren’t likely to.

But we suffer from an embarrassing lack of basic PC skills, and it’s not getting any better! It is as if you bought a new car and refused to shift out of first gear. Why don’t PC users get more out of their investment in technology?

The main reason is lack of training. Few firms invest the hours needed to reform bad habits, even if their effort is ultimately rewarded with greater time saved than spent. We can preach about how the mouse is ‘evil’ ... but after trying new shortcuts, old habits kick in and most users reach for their mouse.

There are hundreds of hours of excellent training resources available online. Did you know that the second-most-used search engine on the Internet (after Google) is YouTube? Almost anything you want to learn can be found there for free. You are almost certain to find the answer to any question you have about how to use your PC, Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat or many other programs.

The mouse is evil!

The real trick to being more productive is to use the mouse less. Every time you pick up your hand, navigate the mouse to a button and click, you are wasting precious seconds. Those seconds add up. Think of how many times a day you create an email, open a document, search for a file or print. Every one of those tasks can be performed by a keyboard shortcut. The difference of five seconds, multiplied by a hundred tasks a day, amounts to nearly 40 hours a year. Your last PC upgrade may not have saved that much time; but a skills upgrade certainly can.

Microsoft has excellent free training programs for Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. It is harder to find them for older versions of Office, but they are there. Go to: Office.com, look for Support, then click the link for ‘Free video tutorials.’
startpage_box.jpg Be a shortcut ninja!

The most underutilized shortcut key is “Enter.” I watch in horror as our clients enter their password then move their hand to the mouse, take aim with the pointer, then click to get to their desktop. Arggghhh! The same could be accomplished by entering their password and pressing enter! That is a completely natural process and is 10 times faster.

The second-most underutilized shortcut keys are “Tab,” and “Shift-Tab.” When you want to move to the next field in a data entry form like a database or Web page just press tab; it will almost always take you where you want to go.

Appoint a training manager and set a budget

Many firms set IT priorities and include new PCs, printers, scanners and maybe a website upgrade. My advice is to include a budget for training and give the responsibility for spending it to a staff member. The amount you set aside will make it obvious how important you think staff development is. By giving someone the responsibility to get it done, your firm will be far more likely to resist the inevitable pressure to put it off.

Make cross training a priority. Hold frequent internal “lunch and learns” where a particular technique can be shared. Make it fun. Hold “shortcut rodeos” to drill the best shortcuts into muscle memory.

My favorite shortcut: Press the Windows key + R then enter the name of the program you want to run; ‘winword’ for Word, ‘excel’ for Excel. I save 5 seconds every time I don’t need to use the Programs menu or return to the desktop.

There are many good instructor-led training programs. We offer them, too. Get the most value by setting goals and measuring results. Whatever you pay for training, it is usually far less expensive than ignorance!•

__________

Kim Brand is a technology expert and President of Computer Experts, Inc. in Indianapolis. He is the inventor of FileSafe, the only on-premises file server priced like a cloud service. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Legal Informatics at IUPUI. Contact him at info@ComputerExpertsIndy.com or call 317-833-3000. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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