Improving Back-Office Operations

Many of today’s business challenges can reveal a number of weaknesses throughout your back-office. You need only be aware of the signs. Market and competitive forces are driving more business executives to reevaluate their support functions such as procurement, finance, human resources and information technology. Service level agreements, complex billing requirements, poor data management and dispirit systems can waste cash and quickly demotivate your workforce.

Often times, inefficient workflow and poor data access are the root cause of bloated overhead costs and poor response times. Left unattended, these weaknesses quickly inhibit the performance of your entire organization along with your ability to service your customers. This can lead to poor customer satisfaction results, costly service penalties, employee burnout and ultimately lost business.

Whether you choose to have your back-office in-house or outsourced, you need to have the right strategy in place to increase productivity and maximize your customer experience. Unfortunately by the time companies begin addressing the back-office, they have already sustained significant setbacks. Most back-offices only hit the radar when something bad happens. This lack of attention can weaken your competitiveness and significantly limit your company’s scalability.

Many executives feel that they have to patch their way toward improvement and, in doing so, miss a golden opportunity to have their back-office become a significant contributor to the success of their business. It is common for CFOs and COOs looking to cut costs to apply a broad brush approach across their back-office infrastructures. Not managed properly, this can be a big mistake. A more productive approach is to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of each back-office function and assess the importance each has to the overall health of your business.

As you begin to assess the effectiveness of your back-office, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Where does your company store its critical data?
How quickly are you able to access your business data? It does not take long for a company to accumulate tremendous amounts of data throughout the course of routine operations. Without the appropriate data strategy, this data often resides in many silos ranging from multiple databases, to numerous employee spreadsheets. This can inflate your IT, labor and governance costs very quickly while impeding your go-to-market initiatives.

Start with an understanding of your company’s data storage requirements, both today and how you see them changing over time. Monitor your company’s file storage processes; what type of files are created, who owns them and how are they stored. This will assist you in creating a data strategy that drives business value by improving data accessibility, flexibility and cost.

2. What is your current data management strategy?
The definition of data management is a “plan that addresses all forms of recorded information, regardless of the recording method”. The lack of an efficient data management strategy can lead to inefficient work processes, and delayed business support. Companies with proper data management strategies are able to streamline decision making and engage their customers at the optimum time, thereby improving overall customer satisfaction.

Every company contains a core set of data used by many or most of the processes and information systems in the company. This is commonly referred to as Master Data. It provides information on the company’s products, materials, vendors, customers and finances. Data is critical to a company’s success, and it must be managed effectively. Ensuring that the appropriate transactional, behavioral and operational data is being captured and utilized will help ensure that you are properly managing your company throughout each business cycle.

3. How seamless is your technology to the business?
The pace at which you must operate and adapt to changing market conditions is more important than ever. Speeding up business processes and transactions requires streamlining the flow of information. Your technology platform should avoid costly hardware, maintenance and support fees, while providing employees with an instinctive user interface design. Your success in this area depends upon on how seamlessly your organization’s people, processes and technology are linked together. Be sure to consider the benefits of cloud based IT solutions and services.

4. Do you find yourself relying heavily on a few employees?
As companies operate with fewer employees there is a greater emphasis on each individual’s role. This means that the loss created by a key performer exiting or being out for an extended period can be larger than ever. To avoid business disruption, begin teaching employees how to do other jobs, or elements of other jobs, throughout the back-office. This will ensure that you have a backup plan in place when a key employee exits. You will build stronger teams; improve communication, business awareness and accountability.

5. Are your employees motivated or do they appear burned-out?
Inefficient workflow processes and difficulty in accessing critical business data can decimate a back-office. These weaknesses quickly inhibit the performance of your entire organization along with your ability to provide noteworthy customer service. Left unattended this will lead to poor client satisfaction results, costly service penalties and ultimately lost business.

It is not uncommon for many organizations to continuously run in crisis mode. This creates undue pressure on the work force and quickly leads to employee burn-out. This results in increased HR problems and difficulty recruiting top talent. Often times, these issues are the direct result of inferior technology, inept data storage and poor data management strategies.

6. How long does it take to satisfy customer requests?
Customer satisfaction is the number one priority for achieving growth and profitability. Companies that consistently deliver results in a timely manner achieve high customer retention, repeat business and greater profits.

Delays in billing your customers, generating credits or processing service related requests are significant red flags regarding your back-office. It is essential that everyone understand how the customer is using their products and services. Take the time to align your employees with your customer value proposition.

7. Does your reporting and information flow help identify business opportunities and support effective decision-making?
Regardless of how good your employees are, if your financial and business reporting is not robust you have a problem. Effective management of your business depends on a timely and accurate reporting process. Your company must excel at gathering and interpreting your data.

The importance of creating customized reports to help you drive the right business decisions is critical. Data transparency is a sure way to manage your company more effectively. Back-office resources must be able to quickly adjust forecasts using accurate, up-to-date data pulled from your financial and customer applications. By incorporating multiple turnkey reports and distribution techniques, you will ensure the right information is delivered to the appropriate resources and that critical decisions are not delayed.

Services Offered By Computer Repair Companies

Over the years we have witnessed an exceptional rise in the computer usage. Now you can hardly pick out someone who does not use computer, since the lure of this electronic devise is simply irresistible. It is being used in virtually every institution whether educational, industrial, financial or any public or private sector companies. Students and particularly businessmen cannot even stand the thought of spending a day without their PC or laptop. This definitely not only depicts our immense reliability on these computers but the reason behind our being so miserable when we encounter a computer trouble.

Like other electronic devices, computers too are prone to get broken or troubled. But the agitation we face over a troubled computer, unlike other electronic devices, is completely another story. People usually find themselves utterly depressed and confused as to where they should take their computers to, once these computers and laptops catch a disease. However, it’s a shame to be depressed about computer repair issues if you are living in Chicago, one of the biggest cities of U.S. Being in Chicago means you are surrounded by a plenty of options regarding your computer issues, since there is a plethora of Chicago computer repair companies around you. Stop being miserable first of all, as only then you can think of a solution for your troubled computer.

So, after calming your nerves down, you had better ask someone in your neighborhood, which Chicago computer repair company they usually ask for help, in case their computer or laptop suffers from a trouble. Apart from this, you can also take help of the computer repair directories, only if your computer has not suffered a bad crash because in that case you won’t be able to do even that. So, it is always suggested to keep a record of the computer repair companies in your locality even if you have not yet suffered from a bad system failure.

However, if you are lucky enough to encounter a comparatively smaller problem than a computer crash, you had better search on the internet which computer repair companies in Chicago are located near your home or office; the computer repair directories can help you a great deal in it. Once you find your desired service provider, the next step is to browse their services, call them or visit them, ask for their rates and ask for the back office support they offer. Many certified companies proclaim to have skilled and professional technicians who can repair your computers and laptops within hours, needless to say that they would be charging you a little extra but of course that will be worth it, if you are running a business. There are also many service providers in Chicago who offer cheap services, but you should better check their reputation before you opt for one.

So, whether you are sick of putting up with a slow computer or are worried about your virus or spyware-infected computer, the computer repair companies around you will remedy your woes in no time. They offer services like virus and spyware removal, data recovery, data backup, network security and firewall, LAN/WAN setup, e-mail and web hosting, remote computing and virtually what not. So, keep your computer related worries aside as long as you are in Chicago.

Private Sector Success Leads to Public Sector Insights

It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs and other business professionals to view the government in a negative light. Taxes, regulations, and mandates always seem to get in the way of free enterprise. This results in many business leaders looking at the government as an unfriendly and unwelcome organization that exists apart from their own.

The reality is a bit more nuanced. For one thing, much of what free enterprise is able to achieve is made possible thanks to government policies and tax-funded infrastructure. What’s more, there’s more cooperation between the private and public sectors than most people think. Rather than working in opposition to one another, businesses and governments work together to drive success on all fronts.

The teamwork that occurs between the private and public sectors is demonstrated by the advisory roles appointed to business leaders by government officials. For example, biotech entrepreneur Jim Plante, founder and CEO of Pathway Genomics Corporation and more recently the co-founder of Thynk Capital, was appointed by the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Health and Science Products. Through the office of Ms. Pritzker, Mr. Plante provided the President of the United States with policy advice, technical information, and recommendations regarding trade agreements related to the biotech industry.

Truth be told, the level of private sector involvement in the development of public policy is greater than most people realize. One of the most significant instances occurring in recent times happened during the writing of the bill that would eventually become the Affordable Care Act. The bill was almost entirely written with the help of the major health insurance companies operating in the United States. This, despite the fact that the political narrative at the time – presented by lawmakers who opposed the bill – portrayed insurance companies as being opposed as well.

The role of private insurance companies in the creation of the ACA makes a lot of sense when you think about it from a business perspective. The law made health insurance a requirement for every American, whereas having health insurance was optional beforehand. This essentially doubled or even tripled the number of customers for insurers. It’s safe to say just about every business in existence would be okay with a law that made it mandatory for everyone to buy their product.

With so much of the modern economy being based on consumerism, governments have a major incentive to help businesses be successful. With that said, there’s no denying the fact that the government prioritizes big business and major corporations. While seemingly concerned about the wellbeing of small businesses and aware of how these small businesses add up to a huge part of the economy, the government will go out of its way to make things easier for the big guys and seems to make it very difficult for smaller organizations to succeed.

While it’s easy for this reality to make up-and-coming entrepreneurs feel slighted by the government, the truth is their plight is at the behest of big business. Major corporations aren’t interested in giving advantages to potential competitors. Today’s cottage industry is tomorrow’s Google or Facebook. How does a big business manage to make things hard on the little guy? You guessed it: working with the government!

More Industries Turn To Back Office Outsourcing

Outsourcing of back office processes such as data entry services remains one of the easiest functions to outsource as more companies are learning, becoming a popular choice to outsource for various industries. Such type of outsourcing is now seeing increasing an adoption among different verticals including the banking and asset management sectors.

Almost a year ago, the banking industry drew attention as a report from research and consulting firm MarketsandMarkets found that US banks are outsourcing bank office processing duties at an increasing pace with growth estimates at $67.2 billion in 2015 from $38.1 billion in 2008, with IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Accenture (NYSE:ACN) dominating the bank back office outsourcing market. As we indicated in a previous article, banks such as HSBC (NYSE:HBC) have been looking into fund back office outsourcing in China while other banks, Citigroup (NYSE:C), JP Morgan (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) are also setting to outsource back office processes to India, which indicates that MarketsandMarkets estimate could be on course.

The asset management industry meanwhile is taking a lead from banks as rising regulatory costs and increasing competition among asset management firms is placing pressure on profits. In an article on the 6th of February regarding a study conducted by Accenture and RBC Dexia, the Financial Times reported that more than half of asset management companies surveyed forecast their return on equity to fall below 15% this year, down from the average 20%, which will likely push more of these companies to outsource non-core business functions.

Law firms are also looking at outsourcing back office processes, as seen by Morgan Cole’s deal with Integreon. The law firm signed a deal with legal process outsourcing company Integreon to run its library and information service. Commenting on the deal, Integreon’s head of global sales John Croft stated, “The fact that another law firm is signing up to the centre is just a sign that more firms are realizing that some parts of their support services can be provided more effectively through outsourcing. This is especially true for library and information services where it means gaining access to a wider range of material at a lower cost.”

Even other outsourcing companies are seeing the benefit of outsourcing back office processes as global document management and outsourcing company, Xerox (NYSE:XRX), undertook restructuring efforts which included outsourcing some of its back office functions. The company went ahead with its downsizing efforts as reported on the 17th of February as part of the restructuring efforts Xerox CFO Larry Zimmerman spoke of in a conference call with Wall Street Analysts last month. According to Zimmerman, Xerox is undertaking the restructuring efforts in part due to its strategy to outsource some of its back office functions to its subsidiary ACS.

Shrinking profit margins and ever increasing competition across different industries are now pushing more companies to adopt outsourcing methods, in this case, back office functions, to focus more on core business functions. Aside from these, the continued global economic recovery and changing regulations are also pushing financial institutions to mitigate risks and bring down costs by adopting outsourced models. With the recovery still in progress and the changing economic climate, it is expected that more companies will continue to adopt outsourced models, especially in the back office.

Top Advantages of Outsourcing Back Office Support Services

Back office support outsourcing is one of the major services that are being outsourced by organizations today. These tasks fall under the category of non-core business activities of an organization therefore it is better to outsource them to an expert who has the required skills in the desired field. Apart from this, there are many great advantages of using outside help for taking care of your various back office requirements.

Here are the important points:-

The Cost Benefits: The biggest reason for outsourcing any service is the amount of money that it allows them to save. The outsourcing strategy is known for delivering highly quality results in a fraction of what it would have cost the company in completing the same tasks through an in-house department. They do not have to spend money on hiring staff for the job, maintaining them, the infrastructure development and the required technology. Developing and maintaining a delivery center alone will cost a lot. Organizations can save up-to 70% by outsourcing their various tasks to external service providers.

Save Time: Setting up an infrastructure and hiring the agents to do the jobs would take a lot of time, especially when you don’t have proper knowledge about the process. Further, training the agents is a difficult task which generally takes a lot of time. Spending so much of time on a non-core business activity would result in overall depreciation of the business performance. Further, the more time it takes to get the setup functional the more money you will be losing.

Focus on Things That Matter The Most: There is no denying that back office tasks hold huge importance in the overall smooth functioning of the business. However, you cannot ignore your primary business functions in order to take care of these activities. You should focus on things that matter most to you and let the experts take care of other things. This would definitely enhance the performance of your business as all your business tasks are being done by those who have expertise in that particular field.

Quality Solutions: The vendors offering BPO services have huge experience and great expertise in various domains. Whether you need technical help desk services or simple data entry services, they can take care of all your back office tasks. Further, as these tasks fall under their core business activities therefore they are able to deliver superior services.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Services

Outsourcing is generally classified as an organization entering into a contract with another organization to manage and operate one or more of its business processes. Business process outsourcing is often classified as a back office outsourcing that involves business transactions like financing and accounting, human resources and also front office outsourcing such as customer related services like contact center services.

Technology nowadays are very innovative and so much advanced, yet most companies, businesses or even enterprises choose to outsource their business functions, partially or entirely to an external service provider. Business sectors usually outsourced include real estate, accounting processes, human resources and information technology. However, most companies prevalently outsource customer support and call center functionality such as customer service, telemarketing, web designing, web development, CAD, virtual assistance, marketing research and many others.

BPO services are equipped with highly efficient and abreast facilities that can satisfy client’s needs and expectations. New facilities are more likely to have developed of a BPO service provider like IVR, ACD, voice logging, predictive dialer software, fax on demand and soft phone.

BPO services mostly consist of three category, these categories are inbound, outbound and back office. They are supported and enforced by proficient and well-trained agents that assist, manage and provide help with the whole business transactions through abundant outbound and inbound call services. Call center agents are intellectually groomed by prolific and intelligible superiors, informing them all about phone etiquette or in proper handling of clients over the phone and in assisting calls regarding to surveys, lead generation, lead verifications, sales and collections.