Business process re-engineering (BPR) sounds esoteric at best, and maybe a little pretentious. Wouldn’t it be simpler to say business process change?
Most people understand what a business process is but when you combine it with re-engineering, it suddenly sounds vague.
Business Process Reengineering involves the radical redesign of core business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in productivity, cycle times and quality. In Business Process Reengineering, companies start with a blank sheet of paper and rethink existing processes to deliver more value to the customer.
Today’s business environment changes rapidly – change in business is continuous and has been happening quicker and quicker. The gap between an organization’s business infrastructure (the people, processes, and technology, etc.) necessary to compete and thrive in the competitive environment and an organization’s status quo (the old way they do things) continues to widen until transformation occurs.
BPR is about proactively working with an organization to change their business infrastructure to not only survive, but to thrive in today’s rapidly changing business space.
Transformation occurs regardless of how an organization chooses to transform – that can happen either proactively or re-actively. The decision to maintain the same is an extremely high-risk decision. While you wait the competition is getting ahead.
The ProSci-sponsored BPR Online Learning Center calls a business process “a set of activities that transform a set of inputs into a set of outputs (goods or services) for another person or process using people and tools.”
It is simple. The way we interpret that is:
- there are many ways of doing business
- when one of those ways does not work or is considered to be ineffective it has to be improved, certain elements are introduced to make it better (“inputs”),
- those elements translate into a better product or service,
- that product or service is supposed to serve another person (a customer, a supplier, a partner)
That’s elementary enough, but why do business processes have to be re-engineered?
It’s All About the Customer (and Competition)
The philosophy behind business process re-engineering is to please the customer. By delighting the customers, we get to keep them. We don’t want to take action when its far too late. If we do not change and innovate with technology and the demands of our customers, we will find ourselves “being late to the party”. This is what happens when we lag behind. We then find that our competition is already well ahead of us and ‘popping champagne’, with our (former) customers lining up for a glass.
Rivals have a sneaky way of snatching customers away from us. It’s not because this world is full of sly and evil people. It’s because we tend to sit on our bottoms and think that we’ve finally got it made. We become lax. You don’t want to be caught “being late to the party”. That is why you should be thinking of ways today to differentiate and accelerate your process improvement and re-engineering efforts today.
This is perfectly represented in the case of Blockbuster and Netflix. Because Blockbuster relied on an antiquated business process, Netflix was able to cater to what the customers wanted, at home convenience with no risk of late fees. With Netflix able to better cater the customer while Blockbuster sat on old processes, Blockbuster went out of business.
Business process improvement, according to ProSci, is not be confused with business process re-engineering. Instead of improving on current processes, the re-engineering concept says that because the technique is no longer viable, it has to be replaced, abandoned. There’s a need to establish a clean slate and implement a radical change of core business processes. This is a pressing reality that all businesses must try to avoid by resisting latency.
Business process re-engineering, just like the DMAIC (a data-driven improvement cycle) in Six Sigma, supposes a series of stages: Stage 1 involves a definition of the project – its rationale, objectives and scope. Stage 2 covers the entire learning process wherein we obtain as much information as we can about our employees, customers, suppliers and competitors – including non-competitors and align that new information with technology. Armed with this knowledge, the next stage – stage 3 – is to set up our mission. Others call it a vision of the future. This requires a new set of business processes. Once we’ve determined the desired outcome of this transition, we move on to the next stage which calls for a plan of action that allows us to measure the gap between our company’s present state and where we want it to go.
When we get to this stage, solutions logically follow.
BPR stages can be redefined and changed to reflect the use of modern technologies like process mining.
Process intelligence can be used to go beyond simple process mining to monitor and control processes and ensure positive outcomes promoting tranformative, enterprise-wide change.
If you’re still wondering what distinguishes business process improvement from business process re-engineering, think of the starting point: are you starting from an existing process and want to improve on it, or do you want to start from scratch? Are you prepared to make changes to stay relevant and competitive in today’s business climate?
Ask yourself these questions:
- How often are your organization’s operational/business processes reviewed?
- How do you currently see where steps in your processes are being skipped or done out of order? Can everyone in your organization?
- Do you have alerts when people don’t follow proper procedures or protocols? What about when people end up skipping a step? How do you rectify this before its too late?
- Do you know and understand exactly how your business processes are executed?
- Can you actively analyze, monitor, and control your processes in real time?
- Do you often find out about problems and mistakes within your organization’s processes far too late to remedy the issue, or when a SLA or compliance procedure was missed or broken?
- How many people in your organization have some sort of impact on your customer focused processes? Can you see who has the greatest impact?
Don’t focus on making a bad process faster through efficiency improvements, RPA, or other automation efforts. If your process needs to be updated or your customer needs have changed, perhaps you should consider starting fresh so you can implement real transformative change in your organization.
Today’s rapidly changing and globally competitive business environment favors scalable, high-performing organizations capable of delivering ever increasing levels of customer satisfaction and business value.
Can you say that this is your organization?
Meeting this challenge often requires transformative change – and sustainable on-going improvement with continuous optimization in business processes, organization culture and supporting technologies.
How are you effectively managing these challenges?Are you dipping and dodging, or are you tackling these challenges and implementing real transformative change?
Combine Six Sigma DMAIC approach and use innovative technology to benefit from comprehensive analysis of current process execution and enable process understanding like never before to improve processes in both the short- and long-term.
You can Ensure Continuous Improvement and Transformative Change Following These Steps:
- Define Objectives and Project Framework
- Define and Analyze Current Process (As-Is)
- Define the Best Practice (To-Be)
- Planning the Improvement Actions
- Redesign Implementation
- Control the Implemented Actions