January 22, 2020

Business Process Reengineering: Tips & Techniques

Process Improvement
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Businesses are continually looking for ways to cut costs and increase outputs. With the rapid progression of technology, the adoption of new technology within companies is a constant need. As such, these changes could necessitate the need for business process improvement. But, there’s a broader and more dynamic approach to enhancing current business processes, namely business process re-engineering (BPR). Naturally, in today’s day and age, this will include technology, but there’s more to it than only using technology for change. BPR helps businesses reduce costs and maximise outputs. 

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As a leader within your organisation, implementing new solutions within your business is a challenge, especially the ones that have never before been considered. As such, we will take a look at what exactly business process re-engineering means, as well as steps to accomplish this strategic rehaul of the status quo. 

Coming Up

1. What is Business Process Reengineering? 

2. Benefits of Business Process Reengineering 

3. How to Conduct Business Process Reengineering 

4. Gap Analysis: “As Is” vs. “To Be” Process 

5. Important Considerations for BPR

6. The Bottom Line 

What is Business Process Reengineering? 

Business process re-engineering is a business management strategy that was developed in the 1990s. Also known as business process redesign, business process change management or business transformation. The main goal is to help organisations improve their outputs and decrease costs. Sounds a lot like business process improvement, right? 

Well, the significant difference is that business process re-engineering doesn’t look to improve current processes; it seems to reimagine them sometimes entirely. It requires business leaders to take a holistic and strategic approach to evaluate current operations. Then, business leaders can completely rethink how things are done and come up with totally new strategies. Business process re-engineering redesigns how processes work to achieve optimisation. One of the most valuable ways to re-engineer processes for effectiveness is to use data automation tools. Automation software can streamline your business’ processes and alleviate manual errors. The best types of automation software augment human capabilities to reduce their repetitive tasks so that they can focus on high-level tasks. 

Think about it like this - in running if your goal is to beat your quickest mile time, then business process improvement would take a look at your training regime. Delving deeper, business process re-engineering would look at your training schedule, rethink your diet choices, assess the time of day you run, how much sleep you get and more. 

Business process re-engineering happens at a high-level, where management’s perspective is the primary outlook at which to evaluate current systems. Since the changes have to happen fundamentally and will affect an organisation at full-scale, it is highly essential to get the steps right. 

Benefits of Business Process Reengineering 

There are immense benefits that businesses reap when completing business process re-engineering, including:

  • Increased Productivity: There’s no doubt that many operations run with waste, whether it’s in terms of tangible products or human resources. BPR can help locate such processes and redefine how they work to decrease waste and therefore increase productivity. 
  • Decreased Costs: You may be able to automate a process that manually functions as of now. This could reduce the need for employees and thus, decrease payroll. Instead, that investment can go into automation tools and technology that can scale. 
  • Increased Customer Service: Rather than focusing on tasks on a micro level, your processes are redesigned to focus on output. This means that irrelevant methods can be nixed and instead, your operations can focus on the customer. Offering better customer service and satisfying your current customer base will help you gain a competitive edge, always. 
  • Technological Adoption: Business process re-engineering is a defined way to change business processes such that when new technology is introduced within a business, employees are aware of the change. These decreases overwhelm and can aid in successful change management. 
  • Competitive Advantage: Markets are always changing, and new incumbents enter the field. As such, the quicker you’re able to keep up and implement changes, the more competitive you can remain. BPR is a tried and true way to stay competitive in dynamic business environments. 


How to Conduct Business Process Reengineering 

Now you know the benefits of BPR. The big step is making it happen. If the mere thought of redesigning a business process sounds overwhelming, you’re not alone. 

The good news is that you can break down the seemingly gargantuan task into the following steps to make it work! 

1. Identify the Need for Change: 

Depending on the size of your business and current analytics, this could be easy as cake or a challenge to overcome. For example, if you’re in a start-up, the need for process redesign is likely constant, and the team is small enough to make an easy decision. Things get more complicated when businesses are larger. 

However, if a particular process is not working, the buy-in will be there. If, on the other hand, everything seems to be working well, then it will take a little more research to locate places for improvement. This can be done through data analytics and the use of reports and dashboards to assess opportunities to make something better. 

2. Establish The Right Team: 

As important as finding the right process to redesign is pulling together the right team. For process re-engineering, the team will likely consist of:

  • Senior Manager: A key decision-maker has to be involved so that you can avoid bottlenecks. With a senior manager heading the team, then the changes can be made with no hold-ups. Also, the senior manager will play a key role in organisation, communication and execution. 
  • Operational Manager: Obviously, you’ll need someone who knows the process you’re redesigning extensively. The operational manager will be able to share knowledge on how the process currently works, where the problems occur and the ideas they have to improve the outcome. 
  • Reengineers: Reengineers are the hands-on type of people on the team. This could be IT experts, manufacturers, or the like. 

3. Identify Processes and Define KPIs: 

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed.” Before you go ahead and make changes to any process, you need to define your KPIs, or key performance indicators, for a said process. This is the way by which you can assess if your changes are pushing you closer to your goals or not. 

  • Analyse Business Processes: Once you ensure that your data and models are accurate, then you can analyse how your current processes are working. You can use data automation tools to asses and analyse how things are working currently. They can provide you with data and reporting that offer insight into business processes. 
  • Identify and Analyse Improvement Opportunities: Through analysis, you will find where inefficiencies exist. Here is your place for business process re-engineering. You’ll have to validate how a change will improve the current workings before implementing full-scale changes. You can do this with the help of software and models. 
  • Design Future State Processes: This is one of the biggest keys in BPR. With strategy and logic, you have to come up with how the new process will work. This also involves proper communication to the relevant parties, so they know how to implement the new process and follow procedures. With a software solution, this can simply be done because you can define the model or process to run consistently throughout an organisation so that the new process is automated. This can decrease human errors. 
  • Implement Changes: Make sure that with project management, performance management and change management, the new process is in place and working as designed. 

4. Assess KPIs: 

Take another look at the KPIs you had previously defined from the old process to assess efficiency. You can use reports and dashboards to monitor if the new process is optimising your business. If not, then you have to modify it again. If all is working well, then, congratulations! You have successfully re-engineered a business process.


Gap Analysis: “As Is” vs. “To Be” Process 

The whole approach of business process re-engineering takes an “as is” process and transforms it into a “to be” process. The difference between the two is known as a gap. By conducting gap analysis, you can assess whether or not business process improvement is needed to make the change, or if a broader business process re-engineering is the key to achieving your goals.  

Important Considerations for BPR

As a manager or business leader, when you’re considering conducting BPR, you’ll want to keep in mind the following broad-scale assessments: 

  • Refocus on customer or company needs
  • Reenvision core processes
  • Consider the reorganisation of teams and key personnel 
  • Take a look at your employees and their current issues 
  • Review business processes across every department 

The Bottom Line 

At some point in a business’ lifecycle, business leaders will either implement business process improvement and/or business process re-engineering. Knowing which strategy is necessary for your current state will come down to firstly having clearly defined business goals, and then using accurate data and analytics to assess the gap between your “as is” processes and “to be” processes.  

If you realise that business process re-engineering is currently needed within your business, then the above steps will help you to optimise operations by increasing output and decreasing costs. With the right team in place, you can use BPR to improve your organisation. Furthermore, with the addition or enhancement of automation technology, you can maximise efficiency. 

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