By Paul Molinari 
Every restaurant can have two kinds of back offices. There's the one we all try to avoid - you know, the prototypical restaurant manager’s back office that's so uncomfortably crowded it barely fits the manager, a desk and a copy of this month’s Nation’s Restaurant News. Then, there's the virtual back office – this is the restaurant software system that literally creates the playbook and task lists  for the manager on a daily basis.
When the physical and virtual collide, they combine into something very special: Bigger Profit Margins.
There's no doubt that a physical back office is a necessity. A manager needs a private, secure place for myriad reasons. But, there's a reason why floor planners design them to be so small – they cost the business valuable square-footage where more tables and paying customers could occupy.
The virtual back office , however, is SaaS  (Software as a Service) which means it is a web-based application and has a "zero-footprint". SaaS ensures a low cost of ownership and a high degree of scalability for your growing business. Operating a "zero-footprint" back office software system means your business requires no local components to download or install. There's no additional hardware or software needed from what you already own, assuming the restaurant already has a computer with access to the Internet and a web browser to get there.
While not all systems are equal in terms of their depth and breadth of problem solving, most will work with just about any existing POS system, even if you have multiple types of POS throughout your enterprise.
Ideally, to ensure maximum efficiency, a restaurant's back office system should include all the modules - inventory , labor , supply chain , production planning , order/receiving , forecasting,  etc. - within the solution. This makes training, roll-out and operation faster and less of a resource burden. Consolidating your virtual back office functions into a streamlined workflow is just as important as ensuring that your physical back office is clean, clutter-free, and well-organized. Because there's no additional hardware that needs to take up even more space and all systems integrate together with a back office seamlessly, there’s a streamlining effect that makes that tiny back room feel a lot more spacious.
This is all great, but do these things add dollars to the bottom line? A typical industry rule of thumb is that a well-designed back office solution will generate between a 2-to-5% reduction of costs  shortly after their implementation. For example, $10m in annual sales multiplied by a conservative 2% cost savings will generate $200k per year to the bottom line.
There is one other trait that both physical and virtual back offices share: corporate headquarters want neither to dominate a store manager's valuable time. They want managers out in the front of the house and making each of their guest's experience a spectacular one. After all, they were hired because they’re restaurant people, not accountants.
If you or someone on your team would like to learn more about restaurant software like back office solutions, business intelligence tools or team and vendor management solutions reach out here.