headshot of Jeffrey Forrest

Jeff Forrest

Vice President, Consulting Services

Running a front office in a federal agency is a demanding job that calls on a wide range of skills. Add to that the fact that many federal programs are so large, they rival some Fortune 500 companies in breadth and complexity. 

If you are in such a position, you know that you must address internal challenges (running the business) and the challenges of their customers (supporting the mission) in a manner that accomplishes both efficiently and effectively. 

A common front-office challenge

Within federal programs, the front office supports administrative functions including budget, human resources, information technology, procurement and so on. The front office interfaces with the enterprise, which often is a complicated web of different enterprise organizations, systems, contacts policies, and processes. Resource constraints make it challenging for the enterprise to support each front office’s mission. 

There are often gaps in supporting the mission’s strategic priorities, the organization’s specific structure and the level of program-specific detail required for each front office. The front office must provide that support in order to effectively support their customers in the mission. A lack of centralization leads to the creation of time-consuming manual processes which can mire even senior government managers in routine tasks. 

Untying the knots

In today’s world, the federal enterprise technology provider offers access to the cloud and platforms that offer virtually all relevant cloud tools. Accessing those tools allows for a range of data capture, workflow, automation, analytics, communication, and artificial intelligence. With all of these capabilities, there is a natural temptation for each line of business within the front office to pursue separate strategies. 

It is wiser to resist that impetus, however. Centralizing front-office functions – both internal and external – through a consolidated business portal enhances customer (and staff) experience and creates economies of scale. Those economies of scale coupled with cloud efficiencies has driven the cost of the investment in a business portal and cloud platforms to a level that is affordable by even small organization resources. 

With the cloud capabilities housed under a single business portal, offline, manual processes like tracking data in spreadsheets or using email for approvals and communication are no longer needed. This saves staff time, allowing for staff to engage in higher level tasks, and captures and retains data for transparency and analytics that improves customer experience. 

Under this approach staff and customers engage with the front office through a single web page. All of the information that they need is potentially available at their fingertips. 

Other benefits: Data and AI

Quite simply, the consolidated business portal enables artificial intelligence within an agency. Central to AI is access to data and AI tools. When you take processes offline, you lose valuable data and miss opportunities to train, customize and take advantage of AI. Implementing a consolidated business portal providing full access to the cloud platforms that are housed within the portal, enables data retention, access to cloud-based AI tools and amplifies the transformative capabilities of the front office.

How CGI can help

CGI’s approach to business consulting is client centric. That means we work to directly address our clients’ specific challenges while charting a course for the future of their business. In other words, we don’t wield a hammer looking for a nail, we bring the right tools that are needed for our clients’ specific situation.

While each client business is unique, there are fundamental similarities between them. Working across federal agencies, CGI has developed a broad perspective into those similarities, and we have identified industry best practices. 

CGI’s consultants are experts in technology, business transformation, and organizational change management. CGI’s consolidated business portal for the front office is a transformative offering for your organization. 

About this author

headshot of Jeffrey Forrest

Jeff Forrest

Vice President, Consulting Services

Jeffrey Forrest leads the business consulting sector of CGI Federal's International Affairs (IAF) business unit. Jeff has supported federal clients since 2009, and currently advises a large federal department on industry best practices regarding customer center technology, operations and organizational solutions. His consultative approach focuses ...