Joe Paris, CEO of Xonitek, feels a bit like the conquistador, Cortez, who burned his ships so his men could not retreat from their mission. Paris has gotten rid of his last administrative staffer.

Xonitek, headquartered in Binghamton, N.Y., has an American staff of 50. Last year, the employee count included three administrative staffers. This year, there are none, following the resignation of the office manager, who was leaving the area. Paris, whose company is a reseller for Exact Software, attributes this to the Exact products he uses, particularly its online CRM package, e-Synergy, coupled with the Exact Event Manager. The company also has offices in Saratoga, N.Y., Portland, Ore., Charlotte, N.C., Poland, the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa.

Putting aside Xonitek's vested interest in promoting Exact products, Paris has taken a step that suggests how companies can operate if they implement technology fully.

All faxes are converted to PDFs and routed to the appropriate person via email. Important forms, such as purchase orders and proposals, are templated documents within eSynergy and don't need to be handled by an administrative staff member. Receipts are scanned and the online expense forms are submitted to managers electronically for approval.

Another function once handled by the administrative staff includes closing out help desk tickets. Xonitek lets the clients close out the tickets and this was once accomplished by having them contacted by a staff member--often an exercise in telephone tag. Now, the client receives an email with a link that enables the client to check off what has been done and what hasn't.

Paris himself stopped putting together sales forecasts, which he says were often based on the over-optimistic projections of sales people. Now, he gets email alerts that tell him when close dates or sales totals have changed.

Is this the wave of the future? Maybe not. It's hard to believe that many companies can shake the need for administrative personnel, if for no other reason than habit. But Xonitek's model does suggest, that it is possible to change operations in a way many organizations have not realized is possible.

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