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Back office processing is the act of processing documents so orders go through or the documents go into effect. Except for rare instances, all processing is technically back office. The term "back office processing" is a general term that involves processing nearly any document; there is payroll processing, invoice processing and database processing, among others. While most companies will perform this processing in their own back offices, some outsource to other companies that perform back office services. Processing a document can be done manually, automatically or with a mix of the two; most processing in the early 21st century is a mix.
When a form or file is filled out, either by a consumer or an employee, it has to be processed so the form can take effect. Back office employees — workers who support the company but are not seen by customers — perform this processing. Sometimes a front office employee will perform processing, such as a bank representative processing a form in front of a customer to determine whether he or she is eligible for a credit card, but most processing is back office processing. This allows the front office to interact with the customer, without the customer sitting around waiting for a form to be entered into the computer.
The documents handled in back office processing vary. Back office employees can process payroll requests, invoices from vendors, customer billing, verification documents and many other files and forms. If a company has a form or file, it will usually pass through this back office department at some point.
If back office processing is required, it can be done either in-house or by another company. Most companies use an in-house back office, because the company can directly oversee the back office worker. This helps to ensure a lower chance that sensitive documents will be stolen or tampered with. Companies also can commission back office services through independent businesses to perform the same tasks.
Documents can be processed manually, automatically or by using a combination of the two. Manual back office processing does not involve a computer; instead, the back office employee just writes the information in a book. Automatic processing is done entirely by a computer, without human interaction. Most processing involves both methods; the back office employee will enter information into a computer, and the computer will add the document to a database and perform any other processing steps required.