The term “front office” is used to distinguish this department from behind-the-scenes IT personnel who have little or no direct contact with system users or company customers.
Information Technology (IT) employees are responsible for managing the collection, transmission and storage of data on computers and telecommunications devices. An IT front office deals directly with members of the public or employees of a specific company. The term “front office” is used to distinguish this department from IT personnel who are involved in programming and maintaining systems, but who have little or no direct contact with the system’s users or the company’s customers.
Many large companies have an IT front office and some companies may have an office at each workplace the company operates in. Employees at large companies often need access to computer systems, telephones, fax machines, and other telecommunications devices. If a system or software breaks down, employees may find themselves unable to complete their basic job functions. In such cases, affected employees contact the IT front office and an IT representative creates a case file and attempts to discover the cause of the problem.
Frontline IT representatives often make contact with company employees or customers by phone or email. Some issues are related to user errors and can be easily resolved by providing the user with simple instructions. If an issue cannot be resolved easily, an IT representative may have to physically inspect the computer terminal or telephone system that is not working properly. IT employees are trained to perform minor mechanical repairs, such as securing lost wires or replacing damaged components, but when faced with major mechanical problems, IT representatives often have to send the equipment to the manufacturer to have the problems fixed.
Large companies sometimes have to face network-wide computer viruses or software issues that can seriously affect productivity. While frontline IT representatives are not always equipped to resolve these issues, these representatives act as first responders and diagnose issues so a distinction can be made between a localized issue and a major network issue. IT representatives often act as intermediaries between system users and backstage IT administrators when key issues are being investigated.
In addition to providing internal support to company employees, an IT front office can also handle external customers. Satellite television providers and Internet companies are among the companies that employ full-time IT support technicians. These employees answer customer calls and try to resolve minor issues over the phone. IT support technicians can hire outside contractors to visit customers’ homes and resolve mechanical issues. In complex cases, front office IT staff escalates issues to programmers and technical consultants who do not have direct interactions with customers.