Six Sigma Quality and the Back Office

By Tamara Wilhite posted 08-24-2020 12:45:23 PM


How can you improve the quality of the services performed in the back office, such as new user set ups, data entry by Human Resources and IT tickets for account management? There are several solutions for improving the quality of service delivered by the back office.


Standardized Processes


Standardization of any and all processes improves their quality overall. No one is left wondering how something is done unless they are in need of training or the situation is a significant exception from standard procedure. Having a standard documented process means that everyone knows the appropriate and approved method of doing so, as well as a procedure to refer to when they are not sure.

Standardized processes at the start should be one page or screen length, with references as to whom to contact when problems or exceptions arise. Don’t try to integrate every exception into the standard process or the procedure will be more confusing and lead to more errors as people try to figure out which path to follow when delivering a service.

You can standardize the information collected by using checklists and forms. Standardizing message delivery ranges from using a template for the messages to be sent to sending messages to specific groups.


Automated Onboarding Tools


Onboarding processes tend to be highly complicated due to human nature – and the process of selecting many different check boxes in the HR system, setting up the new user in a dozen different systems and handling all of a new employee's questions. You can simplify your onboarding process by adopting an automated onboarding tool.

Information is entered during the onboarding process such as the person's name, birth date and job title. Information is automatically fed to the Human Resources database, eliminating data entry errors as people copy information between systems or omitted fields. Access requests can be sent automatically to various parties for permission to add someone to specific access groups, while account creation requests are generated and sent to IT to set up new users in various software applications. Automating the intermediate steps and information transfers eliminates data entry errors and minimizes the risk of missed steps. 

The data automatically recorded by the automated onboarding software gives you the information you need to make improvements. Is the onboarding staff not correctly assigning job titles and work groups? Do you need to speed up the authorization process before granting someone access by sending messages to a whole group of mangers instead of a single point of contact? Can you adopt digital signatures as proof someone has permission to be added as a payroll administrator or configuration manager? Using onboarding tools that gather all the information in one place and let you correct it once and be done avoids the problem of having misspelled names or differing user IDs in different locations.


Back Office Services


Moving your IT services to the cloud can dramatically improve the quality of service of your information technology department. You don't have to install every software application a user needs on each new user's desktop or laptop. Simply deliver the computing device they will use, set up their network account with the list of access groups and application permissions they need, and they'll see the software tools and network locations they need to do their job. And they'll gain access to the same software tools and files no matter which device they access the company cloud through.

Another benefit of moving to the cloud is higher reliability of service delivery. When you use cloud services, your uptime approaches that of the best UNIX servers – without worrying that your IT service level is dependent on that one UNIX guru whose retirement puts your whole IT department out of commission. You gain Six Sigma level uptime by moving your IT functions to a high quality IT services provider using the cloud.

And by moving to the cloud, your IT staff can administer accounts and support users whether they are in the office or logging in from the road. You can improve service even more by outsourcing various IT functions from server administration to website management to the entire IT function to a third party. You gain greater levels of IT security when the system management is handled by professionals who do this for a living, installing security patches and software updates as soon as they are ready for production. They are also obligated to thoroughly test the various software pieces with the computing infrastructure before rolling it out, so you don't have to worry if the latest security patch will interfere with any other element.

Outsourcing IT functions does not mean sacrificing quality or losing control.  However, you need to have clear processes in place for handing off tasks to them or the quality of service will be less than ideal.