The back office of your business consists of employees in administrative and supportive roles. While the admin responsibilities don’t directly work with customers, they’re the engine of your ship. The back-office staff keeps everything up and running no matter what happens up front, and they need support to do so.
Workflow automation changes how the back office operates, maximizing efficiency and ensuring a more effective system overall. As powerful as workflow automation can be, implementing it is no small task.
Don’t know where to start with office automation? These examples will get your wheels turning and help you find direction.
Back offices rely on a variety of software programs to keep operations going. Keeping track of all the tools involved can lead to confusion. Workflow automation eliminates these issues by seamlessly integrating systems together.
Using iPaaS, or integration platforms as a service, you can set up your own workflow automation to tie all your programs together. For example, you can put a trigger in your project management software that will automatically download any files that your team shares to your email. This one simple step might not seem like much, but set up enough automation and you’ll be saving a ton of time.
The back office takes care of all employee management, whether they’re at the front desk or the warehouse. Hiring new employees, training and retention, and compliance are all essential aspects of business management. The more attention an organization can give to their employees, the more they will give back to the company.
Automation greatly assists in managing document-related tasks, which are the name of the game in human resource departments. Automatically generating and filing all the needed paperwork enables HR managers to spend less time at a desk and more time addressing employee needs and concerns. Workflow automation can also help with employee training for new hires or seasoned veterans who may need a refresher.
Banking and Finances
Nearly every back office has a financial team. They make sure books are lined up, invoices are sent and received, and budgets are followed. Automation helps ensure accuracy when taking care of company finances while accomplishing tasks at a quicker pace.
A simple example can be found with invoicing. Having workplace automation send and collect invoices takes a load off of your financial team so they can focus on other things. All they have to do is double-check the work and move on.
Purchasing and Inventory
Your procurement team will greatly benefit from workflow automation. Tracking inventory on its own is very time consuming, and it’s not an activity many enjoy doing. Automating inventory and subsequent purchasing will streamline the process, saving both time and money.
You can automate your inventory list to automatically update with purchases and shipments. When your inventory hits a certain level, your automation will trigger a notification to your procurement team that an order needs to be placed. While you still need the proper manpower to double-check industry counts and confirm shipments — automation helps ensure accuracy and timeliness with orders.
Right on pace with automation is the growth of data analytics in business. Data-driven decision making has shown to be more effective than relying on intuition and experience alone. Businesses generate tons of data each day, so automation is an essential requirement for making it all work together.
Workflow automation will sift through the data generated by your business to pick out relevant information for your needs. One valuable aspect of data is its potential for trend forecasting. As workflow automation picks out key pieces of data for you, you can use it to make business plans based on perceived future events.
Data analytics also helps with product development, marketing, operations, and a whole lot more. Every aspect of your business can benefit from data, so this is one of the most important workflow automation areas to focus on.
The front office consists of customer service and sales representatives who form a direct relationship with consumers. The back office, however, still has an impact on customer experience. For example, web developers work to build a site that enables customers to easily find the information and products they need, which plays a major role in the customer experience.
Developers and IT professionals know very well how beneficial automation can be. Workflow automation can siphon the data they need to make decisions that will improve the customer experience, helping them perform their jobs to a higher level. Automation also helps companies provide targeted content for customers visiting their sites. This personalizes the web experience, ensuring that every visitor finds exactly what they need.
Another vital task performed by your tech team is that of security. Keeping malware and digital attacks at bay protect your data and information and that of your customers. Breaches can be catastrophic, driving away customers and slashing revenue streams.
Workflow automation can detect potential threats automatically, no matter the type of threat or time of day. This can trigger preemptive actions to slow down attacks until a technician can fully address the problem. Automation can also send prompt notifications to further accelerate response times.
In addition to cybersecurity, workflow automation can also help with physical security. It can track employee ID scans and other forms of entry to pick up on trends that may seem suspicious and need verification.
There’s nothing worse than finding out you’re out of copy paper or need to make repairs right in the moment. With workflow automation, you can keep track of office materials and equipment to provide proper maintenance for ensuring smooth workdays.
You can set up a workflow that calculates the number of materials your company uses and determines when restocking needs to be done. You can also use these algorithms to track printer toner, air filters, and cleaning materials as well.
Filing and Organization
No one wants to spend a day filing documents, and no manager would have one of their best workers waste time doing so. Digital filing systems and storage are more efficient than their physical counterparts but still need maintenance to ensure proper documents can be readily accessed when needed.
You can set up your own organizational system using workflow automation. Tag certain files to be sent to specific locations, so you know exactly where they’ll be when you need them. You can also automatically send the documents you need directly to your inbox, avoiding the need to hunt them down.
With workflow automation, your back office will never be the same. Not only will you be increasing your company’s efficiency, but you’ll also be giving your workers a huge quality-of-life boost as well. Any team that made it through 2020 unscathed deserves a break, and workflow automation can be just that.
Image Credit: charles parker; pexels
Managing Editor at ReadWrite
Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content development.