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Business Process Reengineering

What is Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)?

Business Process Reengineering (BPR) relies on a mind set that is somewhat apposed to the ideals of those used in continuous process improvement methods. To highlight this if look at the BPR practice as it literal extreme, reengineering assumes the current process is inappropriate, the process is failing - it's broke, get rid of it. Simply start over from scratch. The 'clean slate' perspective enables the designers of business processes to disassociate themselves from current process, and focus on designing a new process. It is a conceptual discipline; it involves projecting yourself into the future and asking yourself: what should the process look like? What do my customers want it to look like? What do other employees want it to look like? How do best-in-class companies do it? What might we be able to do with new technology?

The process begins with defining the scope and objectives of your process re-engineering project, then a learning process untaken (with your customers, your employees, your competitors and non-competitors, and with new technology). Once this knowledge base is developed, you can create a vision for the future and design/model the new business processes. Given the definition of the "to be" state, you can then create a plan of action based on the gap between your current processes, technologies and structures, and where you want to go. It is then a matter of implementing your solution.

In summary, the extreme contrast between continuous process improvement and business process reengineering lies in where you start (with current process, or with a clean slate), and with the magnitude and rate of resulting changes.


What processes are targets for re engineering?

Customer service is the most frequently reengineered process, as it had been in studies conducted from 1997, but by an ever decreasing margin. Information Technology & Computer services nearly doubled in frequency, moving it from the fifth to the second most targeted business process for re-mapping and re-engineering.


Why are they being targeted?

In every study since 97, the need to reduce cost/expense was the most frequently cited business driver for business process reengineering projects. In 2002, 65% of participants stated that expense reduction was the primary driver. The other three business drivers were:

* Competitive pressure
* Poor customer satisfaction
* Poor quality of products and services

What are the most critical project activities?

In studies the participants extensively indicated that the planning stage where scope and roles were set was the most important phase in the project.

Other steps cited as critical to project success included a high-level review of the business as usual or "as is" state of the organization (although teams cautioned against spending too much time with this activity) and gaining support and sponsorship ('buy-in') from executive management.


The most important step was the planning and design phase, which formed the cornerstone and set milestones for the project.

Over 75% of participants in current study were required to submit a business case for the business process reengineering project, that included the projected ROI for the project to secure funding. The project had to generate a significantly positive ROI and show results within a specified timeframe in order to be given the seal of approval.


What makes teams successful?

Participants cited a number of factors that contributed to their team's success. The top-three factors were:

1. Team members demonstrated a dedication to the project.
2. Team had strong commitment and support from top management.
3. Team shared a clear vision of the objectives and goals and had a common focus and understanding of project success.

The amount of time that team members are able to commit to the project (full-time vs. part-time) is steadily decreasing since 1997. At the same time, studies concluded that a lack of focus on the project, caused by preoccupation with regular duties, inhibited the team's success.


Does using consultants justify costs?

Teams used consultants for the following three reasons:

1. To act as the team leader or key facilitator within the process reengineering team.
2. To provide and/or coordinate the training of team members.
3. To provide specific and detailed IT or technical systems advice and expertise.

In studies more than 75% of businesses that used consultants rated the consultants' effectiveness excellent or very good, and more than three-quarters of organizations cited the consultants' influence as critical or very critical to the project's success.