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Front office software is a critical part of daily operations in most businesses. There are many different types of front office software, though not all offices will share the same software needs. Frequently used software programs in a front office may include word processing, graphic design, and scheduling programs. Other important types of front office software are machine-related programs, cash registry programs, and reservation software.
Word processing programs are one of the most basic and widely used types of front office software. These programs allow the creation and storage of text-based documents, and may include additional features such as spreadsheet programs or the creation of company letterhead and business cards. While almost all computers come with a built-in word processor, some offices may prefer to install a different program, or download a free word processor for the Internet. In addition to a basic word processor, front offices also use programs that allow the creation of portable document files, or PDFs. These are special files that can be read on nearly any computer, even if it does not share the same word processor.
Graphic design programs are used in the front office for the creation of images. Designing menus, brochures, logos, or other graphic-based items can all be done in-house with graphics software. Advanced graphics programs allow the creation of detailed, artistic images, with hundreds of options to customize and enhance the design. Basic graphics programs, some of which can be downloaded for free online, are great for photo editing and the creation of simple graphic images.
Scheduling software helps the front office keep the day running smoothly. This type of software is extremely useful in medical offices, or in any organization in which most daily activity is based around a series of meetings or appointments. Users can input information about the time and date of an appointment, as well as information about the client or customer and the person he or she will be meeting. Using a scheduling software program can help ensure that every person knows where he or she is supposed to be throughout the day, and can help cope with cancellations or changes efficiently.
Machine-related front office software helps users hook up their computer to external devices. This may include software for scanners, printers, faxes, and even phone systems. Most external devices will come with their own software, and machines may only be compatible with computers that have the included software installed.
Many stores and retail facilities now use computer-based cash registry systems, which require specific software. In a front office, cash registry software can be useful if office workers are expected to deal with cash and credit transactions on a regular basis. Hotel front offices, for instance, frequently handle payment for rooms and services during check in. Since most entry-level workers are not familiar with cash-registry software, good training programs are necessary to help them get up to speed and reduce mistakes.
Hotels, restaurants, and rental services also may use front office software that specializes in the management of reservations. This type of software can improve efficiency by making sure that nothing is double-booked and that customers enter and exit in an orderly flow. As with cash-registry software, reservation software may take a few weeks to learn, especially for new employees.
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