Every organisation needs a good administrative department.

The administrative department is the one that keeps the lights working, because the bills have been paid. Meetings are effective, because the room has been booked, the audio-visual equipment is up to date and working, and because the receptionist has met the visitors and directed them to the right place. All of these functions are the responsibility of the administrative manager.

In many organisations, the role of administrative manager is combined with finance or the traditional company secretary role. Whatever the job title, however, the objectives are the same.

To facilitate day-to-day communication

The administrative manager is usually responsible for the efficient running of the reception, post room, and switchboard staff.

He manages the staff, perhaps through an office manager, and ensures that equipment is purchased and maintained. He agrees quality standards with staff (for example, that the phone is picked up before it has rung three times) and ensures that they are met.

To maintain an optimum working environment

The administrative manager looks after the building and facilities, to ensure that office space is used efficiently and to support the organisation's culture and way of working.

He appoints suppliers to look after the organisation's power, water, and cleaning needs. In some places he has oversight of the IT function. His objective is to ensure that there are no technical or environmental barriers to effective working.

To devise efficient systems

From filing and archiving to organising the pool of lease cars for the sales team, the administrative manager minimises the amount of time that people have to spend looking for paperwork or checking that people have the right insurance. This objective is particularly important in international organisations where people do a lot of travelling.

To manage within a budget

The administrative department is a cost centre. Although it is important to the smooth running of the organisation, it doesn't actually bring in any money itself. The administrative manager therefore has to stay within the agreed budget, making sure that there is no overspend, but that resources and equipment are adequate.

Every organisation has to deal with licences for software, copyright issues and insurance policies. Various reports have to be filed on time, and contracts have to be drawn up with suppliers, partners, and clients. If there is an in-house legal department, it usually reports to the administrative manager. If not, he will manage the relationship with the organisation's legal advisers.