Organizations or business entities usually split their operations into two main functions; the front and back offices. The terms give you an idea of what these functions entail. The front office is the customer-facing part of the business, comprising mainly its sales and marketing and customer support staff and activities.
Your business’s admin, accounting, HR, and IT functions are all part of its back office, the part of your business your customers don’t have contact with. These may not have a direct hand in generating sales revenue, but they are just as crucial to the life of your business.
You need to keep track of your numbers; otherwise, you will be blind to the actual viability of your business. You won’t have merchandise to sell without keeping tabs on your stock. If your staff doesn’t get paid on time, they won’t be motivated to work. And if your systems are out of whack, your front office will be flooded with customer complaints.
Most back-office processes are routine and can be time-consuming. Stocktaking is a good example. You probably have found one of the retail outlets you frequent closed for a stock-take at one point or another. The last thing you want is your customers defecting to your competition because your inventory-taking took too long.
How do you ensure this and other crucial back-office systems function efficiently and endanger customer loyalty?
Some companies look at back-office functions as a necessary evil. After all, the key focus of any enterprise should be maximizing profits. Dealing with staff recruitment, keeping inventory, and maintaining computer systems is a headache they would rather not deal with.
However, such functions are important for the company to realize its overall objectives. You can’t know if you’re making profits from all your sales if your bookkeeping is a shambles. And you need well-qualified and highly motivated people to ensure it is done to the right standards. Your IT systems are the backbone of your entire operation.
Optimizing the Back Office
Here are some steps you can take to optimize back-office processes:
One of the sure ways to experience burnout at work is to try to do it all. Many workers find themselves under a constant haze of fatigue and stress because they don’t delegate. And their inability to acknowledge their limits is not only harmful to their health; it’s detrimental to the efficiency of the business.
As the owner of a growing business, you may be tempted to try to juggle everything in the name of cutting costs. You want to be in the warehouse, ensure optimal stock levels, supervise your network equipment installation, and still meet customers. Delegating some of these tasks will help you focus on your key role – growing the business. It will also ensure your team is not afraid to make decisions when you’re not around. And your staff may have ideas that will add to back-office efficiency.
Have a Performance Management Contact or Method
Do you have a method to measure how efficient your back office systems are? Are there metrics generated daily, weekly, or monthly that you can look at and pinpoint areas for improvement in your workflows?
You not only need to establish performance monitoring systems, but you also need to institute a reporting mechanism through which inefficiencies can be reported and addressed.
Provide Coaching and Training
Effective training will ensure you can rely on your workers to get things done without you being there. This will make you more confident to delegate responsibilities to them instead of juggling everything on your own.
Implement Routine Quality Assurance Audits
Quality assurance audits go hand in hand with performance monitoring and reporting systems. Your auditor will use the output of those systems to measure your back office systems against accepted quality standards. The resulting reports will include recommendations for areas of improvement.
Use an Automated Software Solution
By now, you’re already using one or more kinds of software for your back-office tasks. You probably have a software system to handle your sales and stock accounting and another to handle your HR/payroll record keeping.
The next level of automation has tools that handle entire workflows instead of individual tasks. By combining and executing multiple tasks, these tools can increase your operational efficiency in a drastic way.
When you begin looking around for such solutions, you will realize the variety of options available. Sooner or later, you will encounter comparisons like UiPath vs Power Automate.
Back to Front Efficiency
If your back office is not functioning optimally, your customers will feel the impact. You don’t want to get to that point. Start investing in the optimization steps listed here and watch as your efficient back office boosts the productivity of your front office.