Anatomy of the Back Office: Planning for Success
The back office can be described as an organization’s engine room, all parts working together to coordinate multiple activities that keep business moving forward. To keep up with a changing business environment and meet increased demands, some companies need help adopting new technology and streamlining processes to bring their back office to current industry efficiency levels. Ensuring your back office functions effectively allows you to focus on delivering excellent results to your customers–quickly, safely, and securely.
EFFICIENT BACK OFFICE OPERATIONS
The back office is responsible for an organization’s infrastructure tasks, such as accounting, data management, IT systems and services, human resources, compliance, and legal activities. These typically fall into the categories of operational, administrative, and support functions.
While the back office does not directly generate revenue, it is essential to the success of a business. An efficient back office can help organizations reduce costs, improve customer service, and enhance their overall operations.
Implementing a combination of technology enhancements and process improvement will improve risk management and increase productivity by automating or outsourcing specific tasks through digital transformation. This can free up resources for other areas of the business, such as marketing, sales, and product development. This allows companies to reach customers and utilize the data from buying habits quicker, driving growth.
If you are looking to drive increased growth, it can be helpful to engage process improvement experts knowledgeable in back office operations to assess, recommend and implement strategies to improve efficiency.
HOW TO IMPROVE BACK OFFICE OPERATIONS
Businesses can improve efficiency and profitability by streamlining processes and ensuring each person within the back office understands their changing role in a highly functioning back office environment. Process improvement is as much about change management as it is simply tools and technologies. Put simply, the best operating back office environments combine people, process, and technology!
Here are some tips on how to improve your back office operations:
- Set Clear Goals: Establishing clear goals and objectives for your back office operations ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same outcome. This will help streamline processes and reduce waste.
- Train Employees: Providing proper training to back office employees ensures everyone is up-to-date on best practices and procedures. This will help complete tasks more quickly and accurately.
- Monitor Performance: Monitoring the performance of employees, processes, and systems will help you identify areas that need improvement. This can identify any potential problems before they become costly inefficiencies.
- Outsource Tasks: Outsourcing specific tasks, such as accounts payable and technology integration, can free up resources and reduce costs in the long run.
- Utilize Technology: Making use of the latest technology can improve the efficiency of back office operations. This includes using cloud-based software, automation tools, and analytics to monitor performance and identify areas for improvement.
At Marcum, we integrate the best technology into processes to solve back office issues and create better efficiencies. Our understanding of the key foundations of a high-functioning back office allow us to recommend robust tools like fully integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
TRANSFORMING OPERATIONS WITH RPA
RPA is the technology that automates routine business processes using software robots, machine learning, or various forms of artificial intelligence. It works by understanding the user’s intent and capturing data from existing electronic systems so that tasks that used to require manual labor can now be done with minimal human intervention. Think of RPA as the eyes, ears, arms and legs, while machine learning and artificial intelligence are the brain of automation.
RPA helps companies gain efficiency and accuracy by reducing errors and costs, as well as improving customer satisfaction and compliance in some industries. In addition, with advancements in RPA, such as cognitive automation, businesses can now easily automate complex processes across multiple systems.
At Marcum, we’ve used RPA internally and know how to integrate it across departments within a company. For example, one of our clients needed help with their building planning and permitting system. They had an extensive permit backlog, with a high volume of architectural plans submitted with technical errors requiring manual review.
This resulted in long wait times for permit review, and most of them were rejected due to errors throughout the submission. The public would wait months for an answer, only for their proposal to be rejected.
Through automation, the Marcum team automated 4 of the major review processes. As a result, the staff could review submissions within 24 hours, giving the submitter a quicker turnaround. When our clients use RPA, they can finish a task 10 to 15 times faster than they previously could and see a return on investment in as little as 6 to 12 months.
INVESTING IN THE RIGHT TOOLS AND RESOURCES
In order to improve back office operations, it’s crucial to invest in the right tools and resources. Sometimes simple solutions such as developing additional reports or troubleshooting technical issues can make all the difference. Still, knowing where to start and spend your time can be challenging without a full process assessment.
At Marcum, we go above and beyond what others offer. When you call a member of our team, you’re talking to the person actually doing the job rather than talking to someone from a large call center. We customize your plan to truly meet the needs of your company helping you overcome the learning curve that comes with a back office transformation.
As a technology firm with accounting in our DNA, it gives us a tremendous advantage over a pure technology company to help drive results for our clients. We can draw on our unique experience from the thousands of clients we have worked with. Reach out for a consultation with us today.