Back office managers are the unsung heroes of the enterprise. The ability to multitask is one that many people claim, but in the role of manager, the ability to actively pursue three, four, or even more tasks at once is a given.
Of course, the back office specialist should also be pretty good at each of those individual tasks too! As well as being a natural “people-person” and motivator, the operations specialist also needs to be a number-cruncher, a spreadsheet ninja, a business planner, a recruiter and a business intelligence reporter.
And if all that wasn’t enough, these days the team leader in a service environment also needs to be a software expert – not in the sense of a programmer fluent in multiple coding languages, but rather a software and technology evaluator, planner and implementer. With robotic process automation (RPA) a key aspect of back office operations, a technologically astute mind is required.
If all that labor seems like a lot to ask, then the rewards can be self-evident: a well-oiled, smoothly functioning business or service machine, with a happy & motivated workforce who work alongside robotic systems to provide class-leading provision.
Ask any back office team leader whether this is the case in their workplace and they may well pause a moment or two before answering. You’ll hear words to the effect of, “Nearly – we’re getting there, but not quite yet.”
While technology is deployed right across service departments call, centers and customer contact hubs, there’s always the human element, and cracking the back office conundrum relies these days on getting the right balance between technological help, robots and staff interaction with customers, each other and the tech employed.
It’s refreshing therefore to learn that there is software out there specifically designed to help back office leaders streamline their departments’ operations so that peaks and troughs in workloads can be equalized, staff efficiency is maxed out and robots & humans co-exist in a positive synergy.
The problems of getting teams up-to-speed quickly, and then keeping skills honed is one that faces back offices every day. As elements of the enterprise change, both humans and tech need to change. Managing these changes is one of those reasons why team leaders pause when asked the above question, and it’s one of those things that keep them awake at night!
One of the key times of stress in the back office is the implementation of any new technology that’s designed to help staff, clients, customers or managers. There needs to be a thorough evaluation of where the organization is performing efficiently, where there are capacity and possibility for improvements, and defining which business processes need to change.
In addition (and this is one of the many hats worn by managers) is the configuration of new software: this can range from a simple time tracking app, or the installation of a full ERP that will (hopefully) revolutionize the organization.
It falls to the service department manager to assess the need for tech, work out which software is the best fit for purpose, manage its implementation, and manage the ensuing training and the keeping of systems and staff working to best practice as situations change over time.
Clearly, the assessment process needs to be carefully undertaken and be highly detailed. In order to achieve ROI on any technological investment, staff all have to be happy to use any new tech or RPA deployment, and the organization has to have proven results from its use.
If the data collation exercise before any implementation project is in some ways problematic, the (often wide-reaching) technology installation is destined for rocky progress.
Therefore, finding software that will help department both before and after software implementations is key. The challenge finding technological solutions designed specifically to help optimize the back office is a tough one. After all, the wearing of many hats may be a skill found in spades in a good manager – finding a similar broad capability in technology is the challenge!
Here are four providers of software who, we at Tech Wire Asia feel, can help organizations improve the balance between staff, software and/or robots, identify patterns in efficiency and provide customers/clients with fully optimized services. In short, these providers help back office operations managers help the organization.
Since 2005, ActiveOps has been committed to helping organizations improve their operational efficiency by helping back office managers and teams deliver their best possible performance. ActiveOps provides cloud-based software and services to meet the increasing market demand for back office workforce optimization and digital transformation.
Workware™, cloud-based software, is purpose-built for the back-office to quantify work and time, measuring productivity and efficiency by monitoring human and robotic resources in real-time. It enables capacity to be optimized, processes to be identified for automation and the agile management of the entire operations. This helps reduce costs, improve service delivery, staff well-being, and customer service levels.
The Active Operations Management (AOM™) method is a management framework in which “teams of teams” can collaborate and sustain higher productivity through a consistent method, language and shared working practice. Better communication and improved control results in higher staff engagement and reduced stress.
ActiveOps operates across the globe from offices in the UK, Australia, India, South Africa and North America. The company supports back office operations in financial services, shared service centers, government organizations and business process outsourcers (BPOs).
A back office manager will need to manage all margins closely to ensure the organization delivers consistently. Without constant, up-to-the-minute visibility of all operations, this is an uphill battle.
Nobody is going to thank the team leader that doesn’t have sufficient stock or resources available to meet demand or doesn’t have has an accurate target margin to achieve. How do you manage such a process? Using an ERP system like SAP Business One is a very good way of doing this. SAP will help the operations manager plan and manage the requirements for the stock, tech, and resources through tools such as Robotic Process (RP) Resource Planning.
Because back office specialists need a finger in every pie, an ERP solution like SAP is the great way to be able to closely monitor requirements right across the enterprise. Because the manager role is one of multi-tasking, the supporting business software systems need to reflect this situation – and SAP certainly does.
Organizations all over the world, from the micro-business right up to the global multinational all use industry-leading SAP to provide current business intelligence and systems which streamline efficiency and deliver savings, year on year.
The day-to-day nitty-gritty of work may need the manager to evaluate each supplier (or staff member or technological instance) regularly for price, consistency, and quality of the product. If necessary, he or she will seek out replacements if the current supplier isn’t performing.
It’s partly down to previous patterns mixed with workflow forecasts and competitor analysis that is the key. Managing demand without this information is very difficult especially if you are managing thousands of products or services.
In this, many turn to the broadest reaching ERP system, SAP.
Calabrio recently took a survey of over a thousand contact center employees across the UK and US and found that 60 percent think their company has left them ill-equipped to handle their customers, as their facilities’ technology was not up to scratch.
Calabrio’s ONE helps keep agents more active & energized, the company claims. What’s clear is the level of returns available by implementing the right tech: a small 5% increase in employee engagement in the contact center can drive 3% gains in terms of revenue.
Careful management of call center staff can be achieved in real-time with Calabrio’s offerings (which can be cloud-based, in-house or a hybrid). Agents can view evaluations as they are completed by supervising staff and thus make real-time adjustments to their performance.
Technology is strategically placed to use the masses of data used to retain customers. Buried in the millions of calls, emails, texts, Tweets, and chats are the veins of truth that the savvy call center or service facility operators can use to best effect.
Calabrio’s mixed topology is fully protected, giving contact center managers the tools to detect fraud, conduct investigations and mitigate specific security risks for customers.
Compliance and security extend to individual conversations, too: script compliance trends often make alarming reading, but Calabrio’s software allows alerts to be sent when agents say something they shouldn’t, or indeed when customers threaten escalation or litigation.
Aspect gives consumers in contact with call/service centers personalized dialogues across channels as disparate as interactive voice response (IVR) systems, SMS messaging, Chatbots and both informational and transactional interaction. The company’s offering can hand communications from one medium to another, like when moving from self-service to live agent.
Today, many of us like to achieve what we need to in our interactions with certain services using automated systems, emanating either from apps or from the web. The self-service product offered by the company is Aspect CXP Pro, which allows two-way comms via mobile web and text, and includes Facebook Messenger, Twitter, SMS, and USSD (text to application) capabilities.
IT managers have a choice of implementation models with Aspect’s solutions, including an ever-popular SaaS system. Aspect Via is the moniker of the company’s cloud offering, which includes
contact center management, workforce optimization, and self-service capabilities. One user interface brings together the entire customer engagement package into one place – ideal for effective management.
Based natively on SIP technology, the Prophecy package is a standards-based VoiceXML and CCXML platform for IVR and telephony applications. Prophecy allows both inbound and outbound IVR call support, with built-in conferencing and call recording, audio prompts and text-to-speech support.
Additionally, there’s an API for further provisioning, and the system can be extended with scalable SIP-based telephony; integrating voice and automated services into one provider’s packages.