The GRAAL project (is.cs.utwente.nl/GRAAL)
6 December 2004
There are very few alignment patterns to be found at the business level. Nevertheless, one pattern can be widely observed, not because it is a fact of nature that will emerge in any case, but because it is a pattern consciously strived for by many businesses. This is the front-office/mid-office/back-office pattern, or the FMO pattern for short. The following diagram gives an example from the insurance business.
In the back-office, operational excellence is obtained by managing large volumes of cases under white label products that could be supplied as services to various insurance businesses. The front-office by contrast, presents branded products to its customers and focuses on customer intimacy. (See Treacy and Wiersema (1997) for a discussion of the differences between operational excellence and customer intimacy.). The mid-office acts as an interface between the two and takes care of workflow, quality assurance, and other process-related matters.