This article was written by Paul O’Hara.
Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) recently published a new white paper entitled “The Pitfalls of Overlooking the Back Office.” This is a subject I have also explored in a recent article I wrote about connecting the back office to the front office in a more seamless way and trying to design what HfS Research has started calling a “Digital OneOffice.”
The HBRAS paper explores some of the most important steps that companies need to undertake to pivot to a new type of internal organization. We have all heard about tools such as robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics. However, the critical point is to define a clear path for exactly how these technologies can streamline your processes. You need a plan.
The initial focus needs to be on automation. How can repetitive processes be automated throughout your business to improve productivity? The HBRAS paper suggests a few areas worth exploring, such as:
- Intelligent business process automation
- Automatic access to business intelligence
- AI focused on improving individual work styles for employees
- Tech-driven learning opportunities such as gamification
- Greater use of personal assistants and bots
These are all great examples of business areas where automation can be applied. If the focus is on helping employees, then the application of these automation technologies can dramatically improve productivity.
But that’s just the start. The biggest problem most companies have is silos. Collaboration and workflows break down when corporate departments are disconnected. Silos are probably the number one hurdle in connecting the back office to the front office and improving workflows more generally.
The HBRAS research lists some of the top reasons why collaboration efforts fail. The top five are:
- Silos between departments or lines of business
- Too many tools, creating complexity or confusion
- Lack of interoperability between tools or platforms
- Poorly implemented technologies
- Legacy technology
The list goes on. But, the bottom line is that efforts to improve workflows can fall over many different hurdles. If you get past the legacy technology, then your new tools may not connect with each other. It’s not easy to create the ideal situation where processes can be optimized, but it is possible with the right approach.
HBRAS lists some key steps for companies that want to do this successfully:
- Know what you are trying to achieve and make sure your leadership is aligned: If your management team believes that things are mostly okay, then there will never be the right senior support for change or transformation.
- Plan for how new technologies will impact the workforce: Consider how you can use these technologies to support workers and improve productivity.
- Have backup plans: Make sure you have ideas on how to operate if your new processes fail; you will have some problems along the way.
- Upskill managers and workers: Back-office works suddenly supported by bots may need new skills to get the best from the new work processes.
- Choose the right external partner: Find a partner that has designed and executed the kind of workflow you want to create and listen to their experience and ideas.
As I mentioned in my earlier article, streamlining business processes is not just about reducing costs. Automating repetitive tasks can dramatically improve service to your customers and enhance employee engagement. This strategy optimizes how your business operates, boosts customer experience, and also reduces cost. As companies recover from the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, now is the time to explore how you can strengthen your business processes. It’s time to look once again at your back office with fresh insights.
Please click here to download the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services white paper, “The Pitfalls of Overlooking the Back Office.”
About the author: Paul O’Hara is Senior Vice President, Business Development at Teleperformance, and joined the Group in 2007. With 20-years’ experience in the CX Management industry, Paul is passionate about helping organizations deliver a superior customer experience. Covering the EMEA region primarily Paul works with Senior Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Insight, and Transformation Executives, who have overall responsibility for multiple territories and regions. He helps organizations address Customer Experience Management challenges within the complex European mosaic of markets, cultures and languages.
Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash