The phrase ‘back office’ came about as the result of the traditional structure of offices. The people in the front-facing office space (the front office) assisted customers that walked through the door. This is mostly those in sales and customer service positions. The back office consisted of a workforce with no client interactions. Back office workers dealt mainly with tasks that were supportive and administrative in nature. These include inventory, record keeping, accounting, and tech support.
In the modern workplace, there has been a drive in recent years to automate back office tasks that rely heavily on human repetition. This is to free up employees to deal with other functions of higher value to the organization. It also helps streamline processes and increases the efficiency of communication between employees. All this culminates in an increase in overall productivity.
The checklist that should guide your company in determining which tasks need to be automated is as follows:
- It must be repetitive: These are tedious, time-consuming tasks that consume too many human resources needlessly.
- Labor intensive: The task should be one that ties up a lot of human capital to complete.
- It should be established: This means it should already be a perfect process. You can’t automate a broken process, as that will only make things worse.
- Potential return on investment (ROI): These refer to tasks that, if automated, will save the organization significant funds.
This article will list the back office tasks that are suitable for automation and the methods a company can use, such as QuickBooks and a signature generator.
1. Data Entry
Data entry is the first process that comes to mind when automation is considered. It is undeniably the most repetitive task in the back office. It is also the task most susceptible to human error. Incorporating automatic data entry software into your organization offers you a significant ROI.
Automatic data entry and project management software, such as Zoho Forms and Foxtrot RPA or robotic process automation, will provide your company with some breather to put your employees on more strategic tasks.
2. Purchase Orders
Purchase orders in inventory stock management are a time-consuming task. Back in the day, a request would have to go through multiple stakeholders to be reviewed and signed. This process was highly inefficient and often resulted in delays, slowing down production lines.
With current technologies, companies make use of inventory management software, which basically helps your company keep track of inventory from purchase to sale. It keeps track of and anticipates sales trends to ensure that there is always enough inventory to fulfill the office and customer needs without worrying about the possibility of shortages.
There are four activities in accounting that automation can take care of.
Payroll: This is the process of paying your employees. It spans three departments – HR, Payroll, and Finance. Automating it will decrease the time it takes for approval and execution, allowing your workers to get paid on time and without errors.
Bank reconciliation: This is the activity of matching the balance of your business accounting records to the corresponding numbers on your bank statement. The goal is to weed out any discrepancies.
Expense management: This is the process of recording, verifying, and refunding expenses made in the business.
Financial reporting: These are financial results that are released on a periodic basis to give stakeholders an overview of the company’s financial position.
Various accounting software solutions can take care of the above-mentioned processes. You can choose to use software specific to a certain function, such as optical character recognition or OCR. This software scans your physical documents and records their numbers. Or you can make use of a software solution that takes care of most of the processes at once, such as QuickBooks.
4. IT Tasks
The IT department commonly deals with service requests. These requests include debugging, setting up new laptops, and fixing damaged equipment. It is quite easy to automate these systems. Instead of using pen and paper, these tasks can be largely automated.
The IT desk can evolve to be proactive in resolving these issues. Instead of having tech support moving about the company, physically repairing software issues on people’s desks, it is possible to install specific help bots to resolve common issues such as password resets.
With automation, many repetitive and time-consuming activities in the back office can be left to prevalent technology to handle. This frees up employees to focus their attention on more strategic roles in the organization that require the human element to function correctly.