The back office is the unsung hero of many small businesses. Untold quantities of paper pushing and forgotten transactions work together to keep an organization humming along like a well-oiled machine.
Of course, that’s the case when a back office is operating at peak efficiency. Often the reality is a bit less organized. Scattered team members, inefficient processes, and inadequate tracking can leave a back office operating far below peak productivity.
That’s where integration comes into play.
The Benefits of a Fully Integrated Back Office
There are many software solutions that allow a new business to fully integrate its back office activity. This impacts efficiency practically overnight.
An integrated back office gives an organization greater transparency and visibility. It empowers employees and allows for more accurate measurement, scheduling, and forecasting of various business activities.
These benefits can also boost the efficiency of your organization in multiple ways throughout your business. Here are some of the biggest efficiency boosters that an integrated back office offers.
1. Fills in Gaps
Many new businesses use software in varying degrees throughout their back offices. However, this doesn’t happen in an even manner. According to payroll service provider, OnPay, in 2019, a paltry 27% of businesses had integrated HR software into their operation. This is less than half of the 60% that used payroll software at the time.
The information reveals a common struggle — unequal technological integration from one department to the next. By tying all of your back-office activity into a single integrated system, you balance your business’s software solutions. This has the effect of filling technological gaps and shortfalls wherever they may exist.
2. Provides Easy-To-Access Records
Back offices handle a tremendous amount of mundane, monotonous, and otherwise dull activities. This includes purchases, sales transactions, inventory records, invoices, receipts, and other endless paperwork.
Using software to unite these activities can introduce an unparalleled degree of organization. By using a program to collect and catalog all transactions and information, you bring everything together into a limited number of easy-to-access locations.
3. Bolsters Customer Service
Your customer service team members may be on the customer-facing side of your business. Nevertheless, it is intimately tied in with your back office. Existing data of past sales and stored customer information is often required for customer service activity.
When you integrate your back office, it can streamline the delivery of this information for your customer service reps. Customer relationship management software can keep every single iota of information in orderly files. You can then use this to provide fast and accurate customer service at any given moment.
4. Lowers Operational Costs
Inefficiency is a drain on company cash. It has lowered productivity and sapped resources ever since the beginning of civilization. One of the easiest ways to foster inefficiency is to have a diverse and unconnected internal business operation.
This is why one of the quickest and simplest improvements that come with back office integration is lowering operational costs. Software is both affordable and efficient. It also avoids the need to do a job more than once. This can lead to significant savings as your team expends less effort on each activity.
5. Improves Operational Capacity
The streamlined nature of an integrated back office has been brought up a few times now. Cost savings and organization are obvious frontline benefits that come with the deal. However, there’s another element that is easily overlooked: operational capacity.
Software reduces the number of steps and eliminates the need for human involvement in many areas of business. This frees up your employees to focus on other tasks. Thus, by integrating your back office, you also improve the capacity of your team to take on more work without the need to hire new staff. This can do wonders in boosting productivity.
6. Increases Informational Accuracy
Along with making information easy-to-access, integrating your back office also improves accuracy. When multiple departments must receive and record information on their own, it introduces the opportunity for errors to arise.
A software solution unifies this information, often into a single universal location. When that happens, it reduces the chance that information will conflict during interdepartmental interactions.
7. Gives You Greater Control
At the end of the day, back office integration gives you greater control. The effort unifies the front and back ends of an organization by tying them together throughout each transaction. When a sale takes place in the front office, the information is recorded throughout the back office’s files. When customer service interacts with a client, they can easily access needed information stored in the back office system as well. This is all done in an automated and accurate manner.
In addition, by bringing your back office operations together into an integrated whole, you improve your company’s communication. Individuals access the same files and don’t have to worry about conflicting information.
All of these factors help to give management a much greater degree of control over their entire operation. The seamless transition of information from front to back offices knits everyone together. The central collection of data eliminates misinformation and provides a single location where leaders can go to get answers. The increase in available manpower can translate into greater innovation and creativity, as well. All of this combines to deliver a powerful sense of control over the back-end operations of a company.
Back offices are often ignored in favor of splashy front-office solutions. E-commerce, marketing, and even customer service are prioritized over the run-of-the-mill activity that goes on behind the scenes.
And yet, the powerful technological solutions of the 21st century are not purely focused on the customer. They can also be integrated into back offices with dramatic effect. From filling software gaps to unifying easy-to-access records, improving accuracy, boosting productivity, lowering costs, and more, there are many benefits that are created by having an integrated back office.
While just it’s one of many ways to improve business efficiency, it’s a good idea to review your current back office situation. Are you using software to tie your organization together or are departments operating on their own? Where can you implement software solutions that bring your organization together as a unified whole? As you look for these areas of improvement, you’ll be able to tap more and more into the unparalleled benefits that come with a fully integrated back office.
This article, “7 Efficiencies Created by Having an Integrated Back Office” was first published on Small Business Trends