All businesses must run efficiently while maintaining excellent customer service. Timeliness is also essential -- many business processes have to be completed within a specific time frame to meet requirements or expectations. If the business falls short, customers may be lost, legal problems may ensue, and a host of other problems may arise. Small to mid-sized companies often face efficiency and service challenges due to limited manpower and ineffective back office solutions. This article offers suggestions that help businesses rise to the challenge.
Outsource Back Office Processes
One way that businesses can streamline processes and save dollars is by outsourcing. Outsourcing eliminates the need for hiring additional staff and paying the expenses that are incumbent with permanent employees. Outsourcing is an excellent solution for businesses with a limited budget, plus, relying on a responsible back office services provider ensures that all business demands are met. Most companies find that it costs less to pay an outsource service than it does to hire employees to do things manually, That's because outsource services use streamlined processes to get more work done faster.
Streamline Back Office Processes
When you outsource to services company, the first thing they do is work with you to streamline your your back office processes. Back office processes like accounting, bookkeeping, HR payroll system management are often cumbersome, involving too many steps, ineffective processing, and the potential for costly mistakes. Performing these processes manually requires a large number of people to do all these processes efficiently and in a timely manner, yet leaves organizations open to incomplete transactions and lost dollars.
By streamlining back office processes, organizations benefit from reduced operational costs and capital investments. You don’t have to hire more employees and invest in new equipment. Additionally, as your employees focus more on operating the core business rather than taking on back office processes procedures, the business benefits through enhanced productivity.
When streamlining back office processes, outsource companies rely on software and automation. By incorporating the steps for every back office process into the program, they're able to monitor and track all the back office processes you need done, so processes are completed on time, with fewer errors.
Outsourcing back office services and streamlining back office processes cost-effective and easy. Business that outsource and automate control overhead expenses better than those who rely on in-house staff and manual processes. And, smaller organizations with the right business strategies, set themselves up to compete effectively with larger organizations. But, you have to be smart about every move you make.
Start Where You Are
You probably make use of various computer programs in your back office -- accounting software, MS Office and others. By using these kinds of software packages, many small and mid-sized firms consider their processes to be “automated.” But, while a computer program beats pencil and paper any day, by today’s standards, this is not automation. Moreover, simply using computer programs is a far cry from the streamlined operations that can help you compete with corporations far larger than yours.
Streamlining, Efficiency and Profits
Streamlined processes are more efficient. Greater efficiency leads to higher profits. It’s a pretty simple calculation.
Look at the costs that are associated with your back-office operations. Functions such as accounts payable, data management, reconciliation, performance measurement, fee management, and similar operations play a significant role in the efficiency of a company. At the same time, these activities contribute nothing to your company’s core competencies or profits. In fact, these activities detract from your core business and lower your profits.
The costs associated with an inefficient office don’t stop there --
For instance, even with computer-based accounting, the Institute of Finance & Management indicates that between 70 and 80% of invoices are paper-based and as much as 70% of invoice processing costs are related to document handling and manual data entry. This reliance on paper leads to slow processes, lower overall accuracy rates, and higher costs.
Paper based processes and files are high cost, not because of the cost of paper, but because of the higher “human” cost, including correcting errors, finding misplaced or misfiled documents, as well as the human “burn-out” rate that can happen with tedious, time-consuming, detail-filled jobs. Most commonly, burnout is the result of being overworked and under-appreciated, and often, employees end up with more on their plate than they can get done even by doing overtime.
Streamlining through automation can change these problems into opportunities for employees and growth for your company.
Start streamlining with transactional automation, as these will give you the fastest and highest ROI. Transactional automation simply means automating the most tedious, time-consuming, paper-laden transactions that occur in your office. Here are two broad areas that are ripe for automation:
- Mailroom: Incoming documents of all types take time to process and distribute. Remote sorting and scanning by a mailroom outsource enables all documents to arrive at their destination in digital format. The documents can be queued up and ready to go through a pre-determined set of work-steps as soon as your employees log into their workstations. Humans focus on managing the work at hand, rather than getting lost in tedious paperwork. The digital documents flow automatically as the work-steps are completed. No lost documents. Fewer errors. Happier humans.
- Ongoing Transactions: Consider all the events that take place daily in your organization. Events are referred to as transactions. A transaction is a single event that changes something. There are many different types of transactions. For example, customer orders, receipts, invoices, payments, etc. The actual processing of transactions includes the collection, editing, manipulation and storage of data. The result of processing a transaction is that the records of an organization are updated to reflect the new conditions at the time of the last processed transaction.
Each transaction requires a number of pre-determined steps in order to be completed. Keeping track of the steps required for each of the events that occur in your organization can take a Herculean effort when done with paper and a few computer programs. But, using a solution that captures and processes the detailed information necessary to update data on the fundamental operations of an organization can get the focus back on your core business.
What's Your Workflow Automation ROI?
While an inefficient back office can lead to increased operating costs that affect a firm’s profitability, the potential loss of business associated with an inefficient back office and the resulting lack of focus on your core business can be devastating. Do you know what your workflow automation ROI is? If not, then, it's time to find out!