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A back office manager is a professional responsible for overseeing the work performed by individuals in departments such as human resources (HR), accounting, and information technology (IT). The term "back office" describes all of the functions that support an operation, but which do not relate directly to customer service, even if they have a great impact on customer relations. These managers are employed in a number of different fields, such as the medical industry, manufacturing, and finance, so their duties vary, depending on the field in which he or she works.
In most cases, a back office manager is expected to have a background in a field such as mathematics, accounting, or engineering. In some industries, however, he or she will train in more specialized fields. One in the financial industry, for instance, probably has educational and work experience overseeing financial services. Likewise, a medical back office professional might have experience in a field such as hospital administration.
When professionals refer to the back office, they might be referring to one of a number of different functions. A manager who specializes in human resources, for example, might be responsible for seeing that employee records are correctly filed and accurate. Those who oversee IT operations, on the other hand, might design networks and perform upgrades that allow software to run more smoothly. An accounting manager often performs duties such as overseeing auditing processes to ensure that they follow company guidelines and are compliant with regulations.
While front office professionals are responsible for dealing directly with clients, back office professionals perform much of the work that affects customer services. A back office manager in the medical field might record and retrieve patient records. In the manufacturing industry, the manager can be responsible for placing orders and making budgets for projects that result in the production of items that are sold to clients.
Back office managers often have great communication skills. They might consult managers from the front office and executives to discuss strategies, goals, and expectations. It also is common for one to act as a supervisor for certain departments. An IT manager, for instance, aside from overseeing computer and telecommunication processes, might train and delegate tasks to IT employees. In some instances, he or she will communicate with clients who are unhappy or who have problems that front office representatives cannot solve.
@NathanG - I think communication is the greatest skill you can develop if you aspire to office management work. In many cases this is what separates engineers from their managers.
Sometimes the engineers will surpass their superiors in terms of expertise, but they may not have communications skills, and that’s such a vital part of management. In our company we have a manager who is also a data warehouse architect.
She not only understands the technology but also conducts training sessions at our annual conferences. She knows her stuff, but she knows how to deliver presentations too. The only downside is that she seems to be constantly in meetings. Some people thrive on that but I wouldn’t like it too much.
Degrees are certainly common for office manager jobs, but they are by no means required from my experience. When I worked in the telecommunications industry I knew of a couple of back office managers who had no degrees.
One guy had a couple of years of college under his belt and then quit to start a part time business. I don’t know about the other guy. But they both had telecom experience and they knew how to deal with people.
They were effective as far as I was concerned. Still, it’s kind of weird if your subordinates have more credentials than you do.