Retailers need to be wary of non-specialists offering make-shift back office solutions which do not meet their requirements, according to software company EG Solutions.
Elizabeth Gooch, CEO of EG Solutions, argues that the market for systems which manage front end systems (the customer facing side of the businesses) is becoming saturated, whereas technology tracking and managing work, people and processes in the back office is still an area for growth.
According to research conducted by workforce optimisation market (WFM) experts DMG Consulting, the back office optimisation market is expected to be three to seven times greater than other business software sectors, such as the contact centre market, in years to come.
Speaking at the EG Solutions showcase earlier this year, President of DMG Donna Fluss, said: “The most significant trend altering the WFM landscape is that organizations are awakening to the needs of the back office.
“The growing interest in back-office WFM solutions has a number of contact centre WFM vendors claiming to provide this functionality.”
EG Solutions has been working with companies for over 20 years to optimise their back office systems and typically delivers cost savings of 20 to 50 per cent in this area by measuring and managing processes.
Gooch is concerned however that many providers which primarily deal with front office WFM, are now switching their attention to back office solutions.
According to Gooch these companies often try and adapt their existing systems to this new environment even though they are ill-suited, which can mean EG Solutions need to be called in to add extra layers of functionality later.
“There is quite a lot of difference between the algorithms needed to calculate these forecasts and schedules, as they tend to be far more complicated in the back office then they are in the front office,” Gooch commented.
“One of our clients, which tried to use a mixture of services found it needed the detail from our software to be able to mirror the workflow, how it arrives, how it flows through the process and fall-off rates at different stages, which the front office solution could not cope with at all.
“Companies can either buy twice or buy it from us in the first place.”
The Co-operative Group is one of EG Solutions major clients and Gooch says that its system is perfectly suited to dealing with the myriad of financial transactions and HR processes of each side of the mutual’s business.
Fluss warned that many front office specialists do not offer the functionality needed to deal with the multiple channels involved in back office operations, and praised Gooch’s business by saying: “EG has the most complete purpose built solutions for the back office.”
With margins and cash tight for many retailers right now, it is clearly prudent to investigate in ways to save money through streamlining processes but it seems some back office solutions may not be able to deliver all that they promise.