There’s a big difference between front and back office computing that becomes clearer to me every year. Back office processes deal with what is known or knowable. How much money did we make? How many units did we ship? What raw materials should we buy? And questions like them are largely quantifiable and even when we don’t know a precise answer we can make an assumption and proceed from there.
Front office processes are much different. The front office has a side exposed to the customer and to unpredictable reality that the back office may easily appreciate but it’s simply not the same.
A philosopher (forget who) once showed that some infinities are greater than others. For example, although the set of whole numbers is infinite and the set of fractions is also infinite, nevertheless the set of fractions is a larger infinity. In the same way the number of business processes in the back office is great but it is not as great as the potential set of processes of the front office. Extending the analogy, Cloud Computing will mean more for CRM over time than it will for ERP because there’s more software to be built for the front office.
With no small amount of difficulty, companies manage to support their back-end business processes using the software products of one or a small number of providers. The object is to minimize the interfaces that need to be built and maintained to better control the integrity of the limited number of processes under management.
The front office on the other hand has so many specialized business processes that companies routinely bring in multiple vendors to manage it all. Often even that isn’t enough. Individual applications can be expensive or they can be a nightmare to integrate and many users rely on spreadsheets and desktop application development tools to support their processes. You know the drill — it can be a mess.
At last I’ve come across somebody who recognizes the difference between front and back office processes. I shouldn’t be surprised because Denis talks a lot of sense, but this exciting.
Back Office is about efficiency and accuracy – plain and simple old fashioned book keeping (or bean counting if you prefer).
Front Office is about personality – the ability to project the culture of the business to those outsiders in customer and supply chain organisations.
We built Front Office Box in the way we did for precisely the reasons explained in this article.
We may have a different concept of the solution but Beagle Research and Front Office Box have a near identical understanding of the problem.
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.
Related articles by Zemanta
- The Front Office Process – First Call to Referral (frontofficebox.com)