Why Can’t Business Streamline Front & Back Office Operations?


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The latest McKinsey Quarterly reports new data that should upset those designing organizations and managing operations in O/S (office/service) settings. While manufacturing managed to reduce its expense-to-sales ratio by 2.7% over the past year, despite 90& 0f cost-cutting initiatives failing to last beyond 3 years, the SG&A (sales, general % administration – which is basically front and back offices) remained flat. And these outcomes defy reason, because office “bloat” is virtually endemic to business and is rarely addressed, while most manufacturing operations had already been streamlined to some degree by year 2000, the starting line for data aggregating.

A quick and spurious retort might be, “Hey, we’re just taking better care of customers.” Wrong. When redesigning office organizations and process Outside-In (starting with customer needs), we routinely find clients can – and should – reduce overall office FTE count by 20%, and often more. All these extra people are standing in the way of delivering what customers want most, second only to quality products backed by quality service – dealing with well-trained, empowered employees. Also, the more hands touching work without adding value the greater the number of “fumbles.”

But those are just the facts (and the McKinsey data is corroborated by heaps of empirical evidence). Whose responsibility is it to streamline O/S workplaces? And considering at least some efforts are underway, why aren’t they improving the overall numbers, which empirical evidence also supports?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Hi Dick Again the conversation is coming round to the “how” – the what (outside-in) and the why (customer centricity) seem to be almost a given, for lots of folks I meet anyway. The problem is that it all sounds so simple and so common sense but then so was HR & accountancy before they were structured into clearly delineated areas of competence, with their own defined skills, structure, authority levels and language. We’re not there yet and I believe language is key. As the chinese say “calling things by their right name is the beginning of wisdom.” Enter the Clienteer ?


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