Here we are in 2012. It’s about the time of year that we wonder where 2011 went. Some of us may also be taking issue with the “should have” and “would have gotten that done last year” clause. However, busy, successful people always want to do more than was done. This is why it’s a terrific time to see what tools we can take advantage of this year so that we can be talking a different talk in 2013.Let’s take a look at the wonder of software. Regardless of what solution you are working with for your staffing and recruiting software, you can be sure that there are opportunities that were left on the table in 2011. Although this is a painful thought to ponder, the important thing is coming up with a plan in order to capture business more effectively in the brand new year. Oddly, many of your answers are in the back office.Most of us focus on what marketing and sales could be doing better. Obviously, this is more fun than number crunching some of the sales statistics that are found in the back office. However, front and back are directly related and this happens as a result of business figures funneled through to back office. Sales results are a back office thing. Sales information is procured via the production of invoices and paychecks. It is only by tackling the output of sales that we can identify front office areas that need to be tackled. What reports are available to you from your back office software solution?First, check out the reports from last year. What was done well and what was lacking? Which goals were not met? Unless there is factual information available in order to assess, it will be difficult to address last year’s performance issues. Generally speaking, reporting should be produced and analyzed on a weekly basis. If this has not been done, this is a good point to add to your 2012 planning list.One of the key areas to look at is customer revenue and profitability. How much profit has that “high maintenance” client brought in? Who are the top revenue and profitability accounts? Revenue may be high but what about profitability? This makes a big difference. Once you have figured this out, target marketing can be planned in order to focus on the most profitable customers. Check out your client billing reports for such information.Another interesting statistic is “type of business” vs. profitability. What kinds of customers are the most profitable? Is it accounting? What about light industrial? In order to even begin to suggest what area has been the most successful, costs directly related to the type of client have to be calculated and accounted for in order to see what the true bottom-line looks like. Reports by line of business directly relate to profits broken out by business type. These details will allow you to focus the organization on procuring more business in highly profitable areas. Are there additional groups that should be joined to meet more such prospects? Can they be identified within your database quickly and easily? How can you get more of such prospects into your database? Can you structure a specific call campaign that will yield better sales results by sharing the information with front office people?Reports can be extremely handy, but in order to produce such reporting, you must account for the details in your front office system. Orders need to be coded by branch, line of business, location, etc. Then front office reporting will let you know what is being filled and/or left unfilled. Back office reporting will take charge and indicate what the profitability situation looks like. You can also tell who is filling the orders and who your most profitable internal people are in sales, recruiting, orders taken and of course order filling. Without various viewpoints for analysis as a map, it is difficult to structure a front office campaign to increase profitability and you will never be able to realize your organization’s full potential.Once you know where you want to go, there are various ways that you can utilize the front office. Social media connections, job boards, your website, client and candidate portals all can be integrated directly to your software. Also extremely popular is messaging in batch which can be done as a text message or email. But even when using these tools it is best to go back to the basics of documenting where your clients and prospects are coming from, the industry that they are in and the skills that they have and look for. The good news is that technology today can perform a good deal of this documenting for you.Let’s take a look at a tool such as candidate onboarding. Candidates can fill out a detailed application on your website complete with forms, and the information can flow directly into your database forms and all. The time saved by such a process allows your consultants to focus on marketing and placement activities.It is also a good time to look at basic staffing responsibilities. Some candidates in your database are overlooked simply because they were not coded properly or consultants are not familiar with how to search the database effectively. One of the best ways to search is via the use of consistent codes that are allocated to clients, candidates and job orders. Text searches on resumes are effective but a lot can be missed. Using codes and text can be more effective. Take a look at how you are identifying your clients and candidates within the database. The coding system may have been created many years ago and you may want to re-work it to make searching more valuable.Software in place today is feature-rich yet in many cases less than 20% of front office features available are actually in use. You may have a couple of power users in the office but is everyone trained to use the system? What follow-up training is in place? Do users periodically get advanced training so that everyone is aware of what the software can do? Are users performing manual functions that can easily be taken care of within the software? Worse yet, is documentation being kept out of your database in manual spreadsheets or other software? Are you utilizing several disconnected software products?The beginning of the year is an excellent time to check out your software operations. Visit your vendor’s social media offerings or blog for more information on software use. Make a list of questions for your vendor and ask them to suggest ways that you can utilize the software to its full potential. You may want to consult with on-line help or an on-line user manual to get more information. Ask users what they are doing. Sometimes assumptions on software use are made, yet users are using the software differently than planned or recommended. Just using software in the way it was intended can offer significant improvements.Make 2012 an outstanding year – it can all start with the back office reporting software!