Adobe Acrobat Pro – Ver 10 Coming Soon– Optimizing Workflow

by Jean Tower

I attended an Adobe briefing yesterday where they showed a roomful of customers some of the new features of Acrobat Pro version 10. Since we agreed not to disclose any details, I can’t mention any specifics. I will say that Adobe has done a great job improving the application and I can’t wait to get the new version. They have really listened to their customers and have made improvements I can use – improvements I can use immediately. So stay tuned for their announcement due around mid-October.

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During the presentation, they talked about optimizing workflow and the fact that surveys show that the number one thing that workers identify as keeping them from completing work is that they aren’t getting information they need from other people. As I reflected on this, I realized that while a great application may help us to improve our response time to colleagues, there is something deeper at work here. It seems to me that if lack of timely responses is a universal complaint, it has something to do with systems (and software), sure, but there are other factors that need to be addressed.

I know in my workplace this is also an issue and I find the reasons we fail to get back to the requester tend to fall into three categories.

ONE ~ TOO BUSY
A principal told me yesterday that she has been spending every waking moment dealing with either emergencies or almost-emergencies. She has been so swamped putting out fires that she can barely think of getting to what is a probably a bothersome and minor-sounding request for data review. The fact that I have a state-level deadline doesn’t even rise to the level of consciousness, I think. I totally understand that and often feel the same way. I can’t get out of the bull’s eye (ESSENTIAL to do) of tasks to the outer rings (IMPORTANT to do and NICE to do). b-eyeWould improved workflow really help here, or are we all overworked, under-resourced and busy, busy, busy?

TWO ~ FORGOT / LOST THE REQUEST
This happens so often to me, both as a requester of feedback and as one who needs to provide information. We lose or misplace the request. It sits in a sea of papers on our desks or among the thousands of emails in our in-boxes. We have to ask for the question (or paper or spreadsheet or link) again, and that’s if we remember it’s even out there. When the request was made, we cared about the question and wanted to provide the information; we had every intention of jumping all over this request and getting it done. Then, right at the deadline (or way past it), we start looking for the paper or email. Would improved workflow help us overcome the “lost it” circumstances? I have to think it would.

THREE ~ IMPORTANT ENOUGH
I believe there are times when we need feedback or information from others and those people feel it just isn’t important enough to ever rise to the top level of the “to do” list. We keep finding other things that are more important- not crises, not emergencies, just stuff that matters to us more. We know where the request is and we aren’t putting out fires but for some reason, it doesn’t matter enough to us to get to it. Would improved workflow help here? I don’t believe it would. Avoiding this situation requires communication and relationships. If we can better communicate why we need the information and why it is important, we may have a chance to convince our potential responders that it is “important enough.” On the other hand, stronger collegial relationships can help overcome the “not important” inertia. If we ask people for feedback, even if they feel the request does not rise to the level of important, a strong relationship of supporting each other can mean that we’ll get an answer anyway.

So, while I am very excited about the new Adobe Acrobat version, I am not fooled into thinking it will solve all these problems (nor is Adobe thinking that, I’m sure) – that requires an awesome technology AND changing the culture AND getting more resources AND . .  .

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