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Transparency, Workflow and Engagement: Pulling Back the Curtain and Improving Back Office Operations

The Wizard of Oz once implored his audience to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. While Dorothy and her crew opted to ignore that particular bit of advice, the same can’t be said for many organizations, in a metaphorical sort of way. As a result, an astounding number of businesses have no idea what’s going on in the back office – a big problem when you consider how integral back office operations are to the overall success of an organization.

As competition increases and organizations have to scrap to maintain their standing, anything less than a thorough understanding of everything that goes on in the back office as well as optimization of those processes is quickly becoming unacceptable. Especially In our age of workforce optimization solutions that essentially do a great deal of the work for you.

Back office basics

The back office, that portion of an organization that is not customer-facing, essentially takes care of the tasks that keep the company running. Operations consist of everything from administration, accounting, legal services, record keeping, regulatory compliance and IT to payroll, human resources, marketing, order management and operations support.

Traditionally it’s been said that the front office deals primarily with tasks that affect the revenue of a company, while the back office is more concerned with tasks that affect the costs. This may help explain why the performance of the front office is so often meticulously tracked while the back office is left to operate on its own terms.

Visibility issues

The problem with gaining insight into what’s going on in the back office is that there’s so much happening, organizations often don’t know where to start. There’s an entire industry dedicated to the analytics of contact centers and other customer-facing employees with a seemingly endless stream of straightforward key performance indicators: how long is being spent on customer interactions? What’s the time to resolution? What’s the churn rate? With many customer-facing employees doing similar jobs, their performance is easy to track and evaluate.

The back office, conversely, consists of a variety of employees doing a variety of tasks, few of which can be easily tied to performance indicators. This makes it difficult to gauge back office performance with any degree of accuracy. Fortunately, there are solutions for that.

Back tracking

Leading solutions designed to optimize back office operations place a tremendous emphasis on transparency. Regardless of what department employees are in or what their roles are in the company, precisely how productive they are is valuable information that has a direct effect on how successful a company ultimately is.

Using desktop analytics, back office performance solutions provide a full picture of how long each back office employee is spending on each one of their work tasks – and how much time they’re spending on non-work activities. This identifies productivity issues and efficiency issues while also highlighting star employees. Also valuable are root cause analytics, which identify knowledge gaps or process gaps that are negatively affecting back office operations.

All told, back office performance solutions provide insight into processes that need to be optimized and employees that would benefit from closer attention, feedback or added coaching while enabling better short-term and long-term capacity planning. If knowing is half the battle, as is commonly said, then consider half the battle won.

The other half of the battle

Insight without action is about as useful as a canoe without a paddle. That’s why leading back office performance solutions make it easy to schedule training and coaching sessions, ensure that schedule is being stuck to, and to measure the effect the training and coaching has on processes and productivity. While these solutions make it easy for managers to keep employees accountable, they also make it easy for managers to see which employees are excelling and deserve recognition – a point that should not be ignored.

That’s all well and good for managers, but the transparency provided by these solutions shouldn’t just empower supervisors, it should empower employees as well by putting them firmly in control of their own performance. Leading back office performance solutions will not only track each employee’s long-term progress and performance, but it will also go one step further and work to increase employee engagement through gamification for further success.

While the Wizard of Oz was no fan of the curtain being pulled back, if there were a Wizard of Back Office Optimization, he would be all about yanking down the curtain and seeing exactly what’s going on, how it could be going better, and then actually making it so.

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