Centralization And Decentralization Of Office Services: Meaning, Advantages And Disadvantages

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Centralization
  • Office Services That May Be Centralized
  • Factors That Make For Centralization Of Office Service
  • Advantages Of Centralization Of Office Services
  • Disadvantages Of Centralization Of Office Services
  • Meaning Of Decentralization
  • The Advantages Of Decentralization
  • The Disadvantages Of Decentralization

Meaning Of Centralization Of Office Services

Centralization of office services means that office services that are common to all the functional departments are concentrated in one servicing unit called the “General Office”. Office Services that are centralized are brought under the unified control and supervision of an office manager or administrator.

The general office has the responsibility of providing such common clerical services required in any of the other functional departments.

Office Services That May Be Centralized

Office services that may be centralized include:

1. Mailing/correspondence services.

2. Telephone/reception services.

3. Duplicating and filing services.

4. Accounting services.

5. Purchasing services, etc.

6. Data processing.

7. Photocopying.

8. Attendance Records.

Factors That Make For Centralization Of Office Services

The following factors account for modern business undertakings adopting the centralization of office services:

1. The increasing size of business organizations.

2. Complexity of the business organization.

3. The development of technology and wide-spread use of computers.

4. Conformity to standardized processes.

The Merits Of Centralization Of Office Services

1. Economic (Personal And Equipment)

There is economy in the use of personnel and equipment. When office services are centralized, there is no need to have separate departmental managers, supervisors and administrative support staff.

Office machines and equipment are not duplicated. The same staff, equipment and machines are used to serve all the departments. Staff and equipment are fully utilized thereby justifying the expenditure on them.

2. Uniformity

Centralization makes for uniformity and standardization of systems, procedures and methods of office functions. Thus, standard of performance can be set and measured for uniformity throughout the organization. It is easier to achieve total integration of system and consistent procedures in centralized arrangement.

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3. Easy Handling Of Peak Tasks

Centralization makes for equitable distribution of workload. The total volume of work can be distributed properly to ensure that no member of staff in the central office is overworked or underutilized.

When office services are decentralized, periods of peak tasks may put a lot of pressure on the staff; whereas under a centralized, arrangement can be scheduled and peak loads easily handled. Staff absences can be handled conveniently with less effect on the workload.

4. More Efficient

Centralization helps specialization. Each worker performs the same type of work which makes him to be specialized and thus increase his competence and efficiency on the job. Expert management advise is placed at the disposal of all the units in the system.

Centralization can result in the greater (or the same) output of work with lesser number of workers. Comprehensive training can be arranged and ths can make workers more efficient.

5. Administrative Control

Supervision of work is improved when office services are centralized. Supervision of staff and servicess is easier and less costly. Staff absence can be easily handled, because there is greater flexibility in th use of centralized staff and rotation is more easily arranged.

Effective administrative control of office functions or services is maintained when such services are concentrated in one place.

6. Facilitates The Training And Recruitment Of Staff

The training staff is facilitated because personnel are employed and deployed to where their particular skills or services are most required in the organization.

7. Centralization makes the best use of the talents of competent office manager.

Disadvantages/Demerits Of Centralization Of Office Services

1. Delay In The Flow Of Information And Documents

Delays occur as a result of too may departments being served by the central servicing unit or the general office. This can result in communication flow problems and slow response to management directives.

2. Also the technicalities and peculiar nature of the functions of operating departments may not be appreciated by the central office staff. Thus correspondences or directives from the other departments may have to be referred back for clarification or further details. This can cause delays and loss of valuable time.

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3. Administration Tends To Become Remote And Out Of Touch With Working Levels

Under centralized arrangement, administrative decision are taken at a remote centre away from the functional departments affected by such decisions. Such distant central control makes it difficult for the staff to identify with the management.

Sometimes central administrative decisions fail to take into consideration the particular condition of other working levels and this can affect the morale of the staff or dampen their initiative.

4. Work Done In Order Of Receipt Rather Than In Order Of Importance

Priority attention may not be given to deserving service required by particular departments. Once the principle of first-come-first-served is adopted in a centralized office service, then urgent and important issues may be left unattended to.

For instance in a centralized typing service where a typing pool is maintained, the supervisor in charge of the pool may insist on typing jobs from other departments on the order of receipt rather than in the order of importance. Such rigid procedure can be frustrating.

5. It Does Not Foster Departmental Loyalty

Centralized office workers have to deal with work of all the operating departments and so may not have any attachment or loyalty to any one department.

6. Staff may become frustrated because they are out of touch with corporate objectives and the work of the departments.

7. Centralization gives little for local managers and supervisors to exercise their own initiative.

8. Centralization office services can lead to narrow specialization by office staff and specialization in the long run makes work rather repetive, monotonous and unchallenging.

Meaning Of Decentralization Of Office Services

Decentralization means that each division or department in an organization is in control of the running of all the functions and of all the office services required to enable it operate.

The Advantages/Merits Of Decentralization

The advantages of decentralization are:

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1. Supervision of departmental office is easier. This is because, the department is a small unit. It is more manageable in terms of personnel supervision.

2. Departmental staff are knowledgeable regarding the operation of the department and so are in a better position to perform their duties faster than centralized staff. This saves time.

3. Office workers in a particular department get quite familiar with the nature and peculiar activities of the department and so can perform the function more efficiently. Greater efficiency results in greater productivity.

4. There is greater opportunity of maintaining business secrets if a department does not want to disclose such secrets.

5. Departmental loyalty is fostered especially in long-serving members of staff. They develop attachment and personal interest in the general prospects of the department.

The Disadvantages/Demerits Of Decentralization

The disadvantages of Decentralization of office services are:

1. The total work load of the business is unevenly distributed among the workers of the various departments. The problem of peak loads may wear down one department while other department staff are idle or doing much less.

2. Functions, personnel, machines and equipment are duplicated throughout the organization.

3. Standardization of methods, procedures and machine is not possible as the needs of the various departments may not coincide.

4. It increases the cost of management because of the increased number of workers and machines required by the different department.

It should be noted that complete centralization or decentralization of office services is not quite possible or desirable. Rather a combination of the two arrangements that will best serve the business organization should be adopted.

That is to say that each department should be given staff and equipment to perform those office services which cannot be centralized, while routine services which are common to all departmental offices may be centralized.

However, the increasing use of computers has tended to favour the centralization of many operations with significant measure of standardization.

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