The term “back office” refers to a company’s administrative activities that are relatively unrelated to the customer care activities of the front office, or the "face" of the office. Back office activities include human resources, accounting, bookkeeping and inventory. In most modern companies, back office administration also includes tech support and database management. Back office management is the coordination and supervision of the team of individuals who are responsible for the variety of back office tasks.
The activities that are involved in back office management vary from industry to industry. For example, investment companies have back offices that focus on record keeping, trade, research and government compliance. A bank’s back office tasks include database and account management. In sales firms, the back office might include some nontraditional back office activities, such as customer support and marketing.
The back office manager coordinates the diverse activities of the entire back office management system. Depending on the size of the company, the back office might consist of a handful of administrative workers or as many as thousands of employees split up into job specific teams. To keep massive systems organized, back office team members usually report to a team leader, or department head, who in turn reports to the back office management supervisor.
Back office workers also need to communicate between departments. For example, bookkeepers need information from researchers and accounts. Everyone is likely to need to contact someone from tech support at some point. This communication is often enabled through the use of a company intranet, which is a computer network that allows exclusive employee access. In many cases, back office management also is responsible for the creation, administration and maintenance of the company's intranet.
The main goal of most back office management is to facilitate the business’s day-to-day operations. The back office can end up supporting any task that is not directly for the public or for the customer. Back office workers should be prepared to take on the unfamiliar tasks that occasionally become assigned to back office support.
Advances in information technology and virtual offices have made it so that back office support doesn’t have to be located in the company headquarters. Some companies have remote back offices, and other businesses choose to outsource their back office jobs to administrative firms. Another back office management trend involves outsourcing back office duties to administrative firms located overseas. Outsourcing back office management helps businesses cut costs, but the risk is that the contracted back office support team might not work as hard to control operations or manage administrative activities.