Business Process Re-engineering

Business process re-engineering is the analysis and re-designing of workflows and business processes within a firm. Business process re-engineering is also known as business process redesign, business process change management, or business transformation. Typically Business process re-engineering happens in 4 sequential steps , in a firm, as described below.

  1. Typically, the first step for a BPR is planning for the same. First of all the deliverable of the process under scanner needs to be clarified. Then it is important to define the scope of the project. Often it is seen that projects fail to have a well defined deliverable and scope, and this creates major management problems. Then within the project, identifying the critical mini-projects and their major drivers is crucial for success of a business process re-engineering operation. After the major drivers are identified, then the focus should be to identify the slack resources, which are less utilized and possible bottle-necks in existing processes.
  2. In the next step, a deeper study of the existing business processes is required. In this stage, normally the focus remains on gathering internal information about the processes, map existing capabilities with resources and more important map processes with under-utilized resources and slack variables. This often helps to determine the bottle neck in the operation of the macro process. Then a mapping needs to be done of the IT capabilities of the process with the process stages and internal capabilities (of the work force)
  3. In the third step, major process issues need to be identified. Often it may appear that there are multiple optimal solutions. Process gaps need to be identified and areas of major restructuring needs to be identified. Also focus should be to identify and nullify slack resources at every stage.
  4. Then a cost benefit analysis of all the possible optimal solutions needs to be conducted thoroughly. While analyzing optimal solutions, it is extremely crucial to investigate inter-process and intra-process linkages which may get disrupted during the implementation of the business process re-engineering plan. Finally a road-map or a blue-print for the implementation of the best business process re-engineering plan needs to be chalked out. Then a case study is developed in the last stage to set tangible targets during the business process re-engineering process implementation.

The processes for a successful BPR has been described thoroughly pictorially in the diagram below.

After a business process re-engineering project is completed, a major challenge that the management faces is that of change management. Organizations have a culture and an identity of their own. After major changes happen through the implementation of a business process re-engineering plan,major disruption of the culture and organizational harmony is likely to happen if substantial measures are not taken for managing the change. Substantial effort has to be taken by the top management to drive home the change, without coercion. Extra efforts on training the work-force and regular intervention of the top management to facilitate the process will create a major impact on the success of a business process re-engineering process. Efficient change management is the biggest factor which causes a business process re-engineering exercise to be significantly successful.

Finally, it is important not to forget the main goals for which the business process re-engineering was conducted in the first place. The project needs to be managed and metrics should be driven in place to ensure the proper management of the project post re-engineering. Also it is important to remember that performing BPR as a one-off exercise with limited strategy alignment and long-term perspective is unlikely to deliver any real benefits for the firm.

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Author: Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science for business management domains. Professionally a professor (IIT, IIM) and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a Regular Contributor of Business Fundas and a blogging addict. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.