Harnessing the Power of Front Office Automation in Manufacturing


Harnessing the Power of Front Office Automation in manufacturing

In today’s rapidly evolving manufacturing landscape, the pressure to streamline operations, reduce costs, and enhance productivity has never been greater for small to midsize enterprises (SMEs). The. While much attention has been given to automating the shop floor, a significant opportunity for operational optimization lies within the front office. Harnessing the power of front office automation can be a game-changer for manufacturing executives striving to lead their businesses into a future of efficiency, profitability, and growth.

The Unexplored Frontier of Operational Efficiency

Traditionally, the manufacturing sector has focused on automating the production line. Robotics, specialized equipment, and material handling systems have revolutionized the shop floor. However, the front office, where a sizable portion of the workforce operates, often remains an underutilized area for automation. This oversight overlooks the substantial benefits of front office automation to manufacturing businesses.

In an era where many manufacturers boast highly automated production processes, turning attention to the front office represents the next frontier in achieving operational excellence. Unlike shop floor operations, which can scale up or down based on demand, many front office roles are more stable, with employees deeply embedded in the business’s core functions. Yet,  their tasks are frequently less automated, presenting a ripe opportunity for efficiency gains.

Transformative Benefits of Front Office Automation

Extending automation to front office operations can yield measurable improvements across the business. For instance, automating customer pricing within an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can drastically reduce update times from weeks to hours. This boosts employee productivity and enhances customer satisfaction by ensuring fair and transparent pricing. Additionally, aligning raw material costs with product pricing can significantly improve profitability.

At the heart of front office automation are several key concepts:

  1. Accessibility of Information: Having crucial data at your fingertips ensures decision-making is informed, swift, and effective.
  2. Automated Calculations and Reporting: Automating front office tasks minimizes human error and frees staff to focus on strategic activities.
  3. Digital Data Utilization: Transitioning from paper-based to digital information systems enhances the security, accessibility, and usability of data.
  4. Automated Workflows and Alerts: These tools streamline processes and ensure critical actions are taken promptly, improving responsiveness and efficiency.

Real-World Applications and Impacts

  • Optimizing Electronic Sales Orders
    Consider a sales order that arrives electronically. An integrated ERP system can automatically register demand, assess inventory, and, if necessary, initiate production planning with minimal human intervention. This process significantly reduces the manual workload, allowing staff to concentrate on higher-level tasks.
  • Enhancing Phone Sales Orders
    Even when orders are received via phone, front office automation enables real-time inventory checks and order processing. Automated systems quickly identify resource constraints and offer solutions for addressing them in real time, enhancing customer service and operational agility.
  • Managing Production Constraints
    Automated scheduling and what-if analysis can help address production bottlenecks swiftly, minimizing disruptions and optimizing production schedules. This level of agility is critical for maintaining a competitive advantage and meeting customer demands efficiently.
  • Improving Inventory Optimization
    Automated inventory control systems precisely track goods flow, enabling accurate modeling of inventory requirements. This reduces the need for manual audits and expedited deliveries, cutting costs and improving cash flow management.
  • Strengthening KPI Management
    Automation enhances key performance indicator (KPI) monitoring by utilizing dashboards to provide real-time insights into critical metrics like inventory levels, order intake, and financial health. By automating this process, manufacturers can ensure continuous performance improvement without the traditional overhead of manual reporting.


The potential of front office automation goes beyond just saving costs. It’s all about making things easier and better for everyone. By bringing in front office automation, small and medium-sized manufacturers can become more efficient, flexible, and ready for growth. This is not just about surviving; it’s about thriving in the competitive manufacturing world of tomorrow.

Learn the values of an ERP system and how it can provide greater visibility of manufacturing costs.

Steve Bieszczat, DELMIAworks (IQMS) Chief Marketing Officer, is responsible for all aspects of DELMIAworks' (IQMS) brand management, demand generation, and product marketing. Prior to DELMIAworks (IQMS), Steve held senior marketing roles at ERP companies Epicor, Activant and CCI-Triad. Steve holds an engineering degree from the University of Kansas and an MBA from Rockhurst University.