Most enterprises invest in front and back-office applications ignoring the middle office. Sales, service, finance, HR, and other organizations enjoy the latest systems from salesforce, SAP, etc. However, middle office processes like customer onboarding, out-of-the-lane support issue managment, transaction clearing, social media engagement, and vendor management often depend on email, spreadsheets, and old fashioned elbow grease.
Middle office processes are different at every company, but are critical for business success. One example is a large insurance company I work with. Once they sell a policy to a large business, they must manage the process of getting every employee an insurance card. In their case, they used to rely on email and manual processes to accomplish this task and their track record sucked (only 20% of the members had a card on the day coverage started). Once they invested in a system to orchestrate this middle office process, their success rate rocketed to the high nineties. This particular process has significant revenue and cost implications. On the revenue side, they achieve higher customer satisfaction when the policy starts and renewal rates subsequently increased. On the expense side, having a proper system to manage the process resulted in fewer penalties and required fewer resources to accomplish. There are middle office processes in every company.
The irony is many of these middle office processes don’t require a huge investment in business process management or other expensive systems. Simple workflow, collaboration, and reporting are usually sufficient for most processes falling into this area. They require attention and limited investment to improve. Depending on the company and gap size between the front and back-office, improving the middle office can dramatically improve overall performance by shrinking or eliminating the gap.