The often-neglected back office represents a vast and largely untapped reservoir for performance improvement that the front office has enjoyed for years. Responsible for an array of administrative processes that are fundamental to the smooth running of an organisation, the back office is the engine that drives a company’s performance. Technology is of course extremely effective in driving operational efficiencies, particularly in larger organisations. However, as companies continue to spend an increasing amount of time and money on technology rather than the people behind it, the company’s true assets – the front line management team and its employees – are being overlooked.
People are fundamental
It’s the people who are at the heart of customer interactions and it’s the people who are fundamental to most business processes. Despite the increase of technology in the workplace, people will remain at the core of businesses for generations to come – so failing to treat your employees as a valuable asset or getting the people/technology balance wrong can have devastating consequences, from disengaged employees to a lack of customer empathy. All too often technology-led capacity and workforce management initiatives such as rules-based workflows and planning systems take responsibility away from team leaders.
Rather than relying on technology alone to improve operational efficiency, businesses should be putting in place systems that give front line managers the information they need to engage with, inspire and motivate their teams. The workforce is made up of people, and rather than looking for a one-size-fits-all approach, organisations need to look for a bespoke solution.
In our opinion in any business, the majority of staff will perform well if given the opportunity and clarity on what good looks like – and generating such opportunities relies on team leaders creating the conditions for success just as much as it relies on the ability and willingness of individual staff members.
Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage.
The key to achieving sustainable performance improvement
Focusing on developing the skills of front line managers rather than just on technology is therefore key to achieving sustained performance improvement and delivering operational excellence. In order to drive operational efficiency, you need to combine the right software with the right people management practices, and any strategy to create a more productive workforce needs to strike a balance between the two.
A key to achieving success is a strong and stable management team.
Training front line managers as well as investing in technology delivers a number of benefits for businesses:
– Creating a sustainable platform to build from
– Improving control over their environment
– Reducing time spent firefighting
– Releasing internal capacity to focus on strategy and sustainability
– Enabling businesses to benefit from investment programmes
– Greater levels of strategic choice for competitive advantage
Spending large amounts of money on workforce management and optimisation technology without investing in people training is not likely to deliver true sustainability. Technology alone is not enough; it is the people behind it who drive results and in order to motivate them, technology has to be aligned to a company’s practice and principles. Rather than just being ordered to do something different, people need to understand why it is so important to make these changes and how it will benefit them – and by instilling these values of change within them and encouraging them to develop their skills, companies are more likely to outperform their competition.