Lean Office Tip: Learn How to Dramatically Improve Document Creation Efficiency

iStock_000019661818SmallAt Gemba Academy we’re constantly trying to practice what we teach by improving the way we do our daily work.

Our Customer Service team, which is lead by Elaine Cressionnie, receives and sends hundreds of emails each week.

Many of these emails start as a template.

Minitab License Emails

For example, when someone orders a Premium Subscription to our School of Six Sigma they receive a free Minitab 16 license. This means we have to send an email with instructions on how to download Minitab 16 and activate it with a license key.

In the past these templates were stored on Google Drive so any of our Customer Service reps could access them.

Additionally, others that still work on PCs (most of us now use Macs) created MS Outlook templates that could be called up with the few clicks of a mouse.

These improvements were great and definitely made us more efficient… but nothing can beat the next improvement our team stumbled across.

Introducing TextExpander

And that improvement was our introduction to a program called TextExpander (Mac version) or TextExpander Windows (Windows version).

With TextExpander you’re able to create “snippets” that allow you to instantly call up specific templates by typing in a keyboard short cut.

For example, when one of our Customer Service reps needs to send Minitab license info all they have to do is type a shortcut such as ;m. In other words, anytime the shortcut ;m is typed the template they created will appear.

And while this is pretty cool it gets even better.

You see we still have to type the name of the person while also entering the Minitab license key in two different places. This takes time, even if you’re simply copying and pasting.

This is whenTextExpander really shines!

Easy to Use

The best way to demonstrate how this works is with a short video… if you’re reading this via RSS or email you may need to click through to the site in order to watch the video. Feel free to view it in full screen mode by clicking the icon in the lower right corner of the video player.

What do you think?

If you find yourself sending the same sort of email, or creating the same type of document (Word, etc.) again and again and don’t want to have to click through a maze in order to access a template I’d encourage you to give TextExpander a try.

Do you think a tool like this could help you improve your effectiveness? What other tips and tricks do you have that may be similar to TextExpander?

8 Comments

  1. Sid Watson

    April 2, 2013 - 4:55 pm

    First of all, love the new look on the site. Believe it or not we have used TextExpander in the past but it was an older version. We do have many situations in our QC department where this type of software could definitley increase our effectiveness so I have already downloaded the latest version and will be giving it another go

    • Ron Pereira

      April 3, 2013 - 7:46 am

      Thanks for the comment and kind words, Sid. Let us know how things go!

  2. Erin Thompson

    April 3, 2013 - 9:00 am

    This is a very nice productivity hack! I see you only have 3 of these saved. How do you plan to remember the shortcuts once u have more? Assume your reps have dozens of these saved, right?

    • Ron Pereira

      April 4, 2013 - 9:32 am

      Hi Erin, yes, this is likely the biggest challenge. We’ve started to create cheat sheets using post it notes… but we’re also trying to standardize the short cuts with the hope that we can help each other if needed. Another idea was to create a customer desktop background that has the shortcuts in the top corner meaning you’d be able to see them as long as the application you’re working in didn’t cover the full screen.

  3. Anonymous

    April 3, 2013 - 5:08 pm

    Sounds awesome, unfortunately the program isn’t offered as part of our corporate software package. For others like me that have restrictions on what can be downloaded I offer a pseudo work-around for emails.

    I use the Outlook ‘signature’ function as a quick way to send boiler-plate emails – in other words, a repetitive email that always contains the same verbiage. The signature function is not limited to business card data- it can contain text of any length. Thus far, I have not reached a limit on the number of ‘signatures’ that I can save. Hyperlinks (urls) can be embedded in the text but I have not found a way to automatically link an attachment within the signature. Although the signatures can be shared (as an email), each individual has to individually copy and save as their own. This work-around has limitations but it can save time for those that are restricted in what can be placed on their computer.

    • Ron Pereira

      April 3, 2013 - 10:36 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Anonymous… and your use of the auto signature feature is great!

      I wonder if you spoke to your manager or some of the IT folks at your company if they’d allow you to try the free version of TextExpander? It might be worth asking since, I’m confident, you will love it!

  4. Brigitta Gémes

    April 7, 2013 - 2:08 am

    Hi,

    I solved the issue with creating macros to call up the template in Outlook. After you wrote a macro or more, you can add them to the Outlook ribbon or quick access toolbar. Opening the template is just one click.

    Works perfect for me, I can only recommend it!

    • Ron Pereira

      April 8, 2013 - 8:02 am

      Hi Brigitta, would you be interested in sharing how you did this? I bet many of our readers use Outlook and would love to know how to go about this. If you’re interested let me know!

      Thanks for your comment!