What are the main Functions of an Office?

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The efficiency of an office should be judged by the degree of promptness in supplying correct information. The information dealt with by an office will be on accounts, orders, prices, complaints, personal matters, etc.

It will go to the credit of the manager, if his office gives out needed information at a moment’s notice. George R. Terry says, “The act of collecting, processing, storing and distributing information comprise functions of the office.”

Modern business is complex. A business organization today is faced with the ever- changing conditions. The present decade is the decade of change and challenge. With the developments and advances in the field of science and technology, the manufacturing techniques have undergone a rapid change.

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The ever-widening markets also pose a challenge by themselves. All the problems can be satisfactorily tackled only when adequate information is available. Thus man’s greatest tool today is information. To identify new markets, to design new products, to make decisions, to keep people informed and to keep abreast of knowledge, requires information.

It is not only man’s greatest tool, but it is also one of the greatest needs. Information is required by all members of enterprise and one of the problems in its management is to determine the nature of the information required, by whom, and in what form.

Information is to help; it should assist its recipient in performing his assigned job. In short, the acts of controlling, processing, storing, striving and distributing information comprise the function of the OFFICE.

The functions of a modern office can be divided into the following categories; and they are:

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1. Basic or routine functions.

2. Administrative management functions or ancillary functions.

The following are the basic functions of an office:

1. To receive or collect information.

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2. To prepare a record of such information.

3. To process and arrange such information.

4. To supply readymade information to the authorities when asked for.

1. To receive or collect information:

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The primary function of the office is to receive information from the various departments of the organization or from outside through enquiries, reports, orders, circulars, complaints, messages etc. If the information received is not complete, the office tries to collect information by sending out enquiries of clarifications.

There may be different types of meeting within or outside the organization and pieces of information will be helpful to the management and therefore the office has to collect it.

2. To prepare records of information:

Information is usually received in the form of letters, enquiries, phone calls etc. and this information has to be converted into other forms, which can easily be followed by the management. These are orders, quotations, price-lists, replies to enquiries and complaints, account books, etc., within the organization. All these records will be retained for further reference.

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According to the nature of the information, the record may be retained for many years or they may be safely kept for a few years, after which they can be destroyed. The records of information prepared in the office must be preserved safely, made available to the management within no time and must be easy to understand.

These records maintained by the office will be reference for further dealings. Moreover, every business has to keep up- to-date books of accounts which are required to record all business transactions.

The books like cash-book, purchase book, sales-book, goods returns book, productive expense and other ledgers are to be kept by every office. Besides the account-books, other books will have to be maintained by the office in order to have a smooth function of the organization.

3. To process and arrange information:

The information received by the office may be lengthy and the same in its original form may not be much useful to the management. Therefore, after collecting such information, it will be processed, categorized, arranged and systematically kept for readymade information.

Certain letters will have to be converted into charts, statements etc. by doing calculations or analysis over such information. For instance, orders have been received every day and complied. The orders themselves will not serve any purpose to the departmental head because the orders may be in the form of letters.

Therefore, it will be most useful to the Sales Manager, if these have been shown in a compact form, say sales week wise. This can be done through charts, statements etc. Then the sales manager is at ease to understand the position of the sales by looking at the statements or charts and come to a decision within no time.

Thus it is possible for all the departments or the management to understand the position easily and quickly and come to certain conclusion. If the information is not properly analyzed or arranged, much time will have to be spent.

An efficient office supplies readymade information to departments or managers who take proper decisions on the basis of such information supplied. Therefore, a good office is the foundation of a business organization.

4. To supply readymade information to the authorities:

An office is a machine which receives raw materials (scattered information) and produces various items through processes (compiled and tillable). The office receives information through letters, phones, meetings, complaints, business transactions, etc.

These pieces of information are further recorded in proper books processed and thus converted into charts, graphs, statements, and diagrams etc. which show the complete picture of one type of dealings. The processed information is ready made information and is easy to understand at a glance.

Usually, the office supplies information relating to estimates, statements of accounts, progress report, book debts, sales, castings etc.

The information kept by the office must be complete and accurate and supplied to the authorities as and when required, without wasting time. If the supply of information is also kept in such place where it is easily visible and available at any time, it is a great advantage.

Administrative and Management Functions:

1. Management function:

The most important administrative functions of the manager include planning, organizing, staffing, directing, communicating, controlling, co­ordinating and motivating. The office manager must organize the office on modern lines for the efficient and effective performance.

2. Development of office systems and procedures:

All the jobs in the office are interrelated and interdependent. As such an office must provide better services to interrelated departments. For a smooth flow of work, development of office system and procedures is essential.

3. Form designing and control:

Forms are the basic tools for all types of office work. There are many operations which can be systematized with the use of printed forms. Besides, the use of the forms saves time and energy at every operation. Information can be collected, recorded or processed systematically and effectively with the help of office forms. Therefore, it is the task of the management to design and to control the forms.

4. Selection and purchase of office appliances:

The office manager must purchase the appropriate machines, equipment or furniture for the office. Office work requires adequate equipment, machines and furniture and they must be maintained properly for the efficient working order. Appliances must be selected for full and proper uses.

They must be suitable for the purpose. They must be simple in operation and maintenance. They must be flexible and adaptable to different uses. The cost and benefit must be compared when the appliances are purchased.

5. Personnel functions:

The personnel function is performed by the personnel department. It is assisted by the office. It recruits and selects the personnel. It places them in different jobs in the office. For the efficient performance of the basic functions of the office, provision of adequate and trained staff is necessary. The staff must get reasonable salary. Staff must be properly motivated to achieve the best performance.

6. Controlling office costs:

Office costs may be controlled by using machines in the office, using labour-saving devices and adopting improved methods of management.

7. Maintenance of records:

This is a secondary function of an office. Copies of all the correspondence must be retained for further reference. From a business firm, a number of letters go out daily and a number of replies are received, and if the copies of the original letters against which the replies have been received, are not available, the decision cannot be taken wisely.

Therefore all the records must be maintained through proper filing system and preserved for number of years. Certain documents need not be kept for more than a year while certain documents have to be kept for a number of years.

8. Planning schemes and policies:

In the present stage, production is always in anticipation of demand. Therefore for a manufacturing concern, it has become essential to plan the activities of the concern for the future period.

One cannot take a decision or plan unless one goes into the previous records and relevant statistical data, studies the present market trends, and takes decisions on basis of all information of the past period.

When a proper plan has been chalked out, it will be adopted as a policy. Planning and policies will be good, when they have been drawn out carefully with the help of the office, through collecting and processing information.

9. Safeguarding the assets:

The job of an office is not only extended from the receipt of information to the supply of processed information, but also to take care of various assets. To keep the record of customers (debtors) and keep the management to be informed of about the doubtful debts so that necessary steps may be taken to prevent the occurrence of bad debts.

Books of accounts of all types (personal, real and nominal) are to be kept regularly. Among them the most important are fixed assets plant, machinery, fixtures, buildings and current assets goods, stationery, debtors, bills receivable, cash in hand, cash at bank, etc.

All these are the properties of the concern and the office must arrange to protect and safeguard the assets against destruction, damage, loss by theft, fire etc. The management must be informed of all types of misappropriation matters so that its occurrence will be prevented in future through investigations.

10. Public relations:

Public relations signify the relations of a business organization with the general public, usually through the distribution of information. Public relations guide business enterprise. Public relations are guided by public opinions.

The functions of Public Relations are:

(a) To inform managers of the current status and the changes in the opinions of public. The public can be divided into two-internal and external. The internal public is key policy makers, supervisory personnel; employees and shareholders. The external publics are customers, suppliers and the general public.

(b) To suggest purposeful relations with the public and to warn unfavorable reactions.

(c) To communicate to the public the company’s policies and actions. Public interest is an essential element for any good public relations. Office is the eyes and ears of a business. It is the hand which makes friends for a company.

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