Information technology training and implementation highly benefit the administrative field while providing a competitive edge to administrative assistants. An administrative assistant is a key employee. Administrative assistants, secretaries, and receptionists of today are far more than clerks. In this age of technology, they are key employees, coordinating information for management, staff and clients, organizing and managing projects and generally seeing that companies are efficiently ran. Opportunities in the administrative field should be best for applicants with an extensive knowledge of software applications and information technology in general. In spite of these changes, however, the core responsibilities for secretaries and administrative assistants have remained much the same. Those core responsibilities include performing and coordinating an office’s administrative activities and storing, retrieving, and integrating information for distribution to staff and clients.
Secretaries and administrative assistants perform a variety of administrative and clerical duties necessary to run an organization efficiently. They serve as information and communication managers for an office, plan and schedule meetings and appointments, organize and maintain paper and electronic files, manage projects; conduct research, and deliver information by using the telephone, mail services, Web sites, and e-mail. They also may handle travel and guest arrangements for the members of the company.
Secretaries and administrative assistants use a multitude of office equipment, such as fax machines, photocopiers, scanners, and videoconferencing and telephone systems. In addition, secretaries and administrative assistants often use computers to do tasks previously handled by managers and professionals, such as creating spreadsheets, composing correspondence, managing databases, and creating presentations, reports, and documents using desktop publishing software and digital graphics. They also may enter into negotiations with vendors, maintain and examine leased equipment, purchase supplies, manage areas such as stockrooms or corporate libraries, and retrieve data from various sources. At the same time, managers and professionals have assumed many tasks traditionally assigned to secretaries and administrative assistants, such as keyboarding and answering the telephone. Because secretaries and administrative assistants do less dictation and word processing, they now have time to support more members of the executive staff. In a increasingly growing number of organizations, secretaries and administrative assistants work in teams to work flexibly and share their expertise and knowledge.
The biggest competition that administrative professionals face today is the information technology advantage. If you are not well versed in the latest business software, Internet technologies, and even managing databases, you may be replaced, or your work may even be outsourced to a virtual assistant. In the future, with email rapidly becoming the most common form of communication between members of a company and their suppliers, and an increasing need for an online presence for your business, virtual assistant will become increasing prevalent in the modern company. Virtual assistants are easy to acquire, and usually fairly priced. Companies like internetGirlfriday.com and OnAssist.com provides services such as email, web design, and social networking to clients.
Many secretaries and administrative assistants now provide training and orientation for new staff, conduct research on the Internet, and operate and troubleshoot new office technologies. Secretaries and office workers with information technology have better chances to compete and retain open administrative positions. Information Technology has become increasingly important in this arena. Systems and processes should be in place to train secretaries and administrative assistants even further. To continuously do business, a company needs a techno-savvy administrative assistant. Business is easier to operate when your secretary can email, manage CRM software, conduct online research, manage databases, and even provide online chat support. To continuously improve one’s administration tasks, ongoing information technology training should be provided. The risks of not providing information technology training or not recruiting a tech-savvy administrative assistant include decreased productivity for the entire company. As office automation continues to evolve, retraining and continuing education will remain integral parts of secretarial jobs.
- Applegate, Austin and McFarlan, Corporate Information Strategy and Management, Seventh Edition, Text and Cases, McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2006