Business Process Redesign (BPR): have you thought about everything?
Business Process Redesign or Reengineering (BPR) which has, for many years, been used to achieve performance optimization, cost reduction and task automation, is at the core of today’s business analysis practices. It is a task that needs to be carried out systematically by the customer prior to any IT system implementation project to ensure that the system will meet the business processes requirements.
Today, however, it seems that the use of BPR techniques, methods and tools remains fairly limited or underutilized; indeed, brainstorming sessions and uncertain assumptions seem to be the only times when BPR is routinely carried out.
Based on that observation and as part of my Master’s Degree, I decided to develop a BPR Best Practice toolkit aimed at Public Sector professionals – although most of the practices listed in the guide will likely apply to the Private Sector as well.
The toolkit is outlined below. The first column represents the various aspects of the organization (i.e.: its structure, management, resources etc.) that the client might wish to improve. The second one shows the BPR Best Practices for each dimension while the third lists the associated benefits that can derive from their implementation. Finally, the last column is used to provide additional information on the potential impacts that the given practices can have on the existing process.
|Aspects of the Organization||BPR
|Benefits||Potential Impacts on the Existing Process|
|Organizational Structure||Can employees be entrusted to perform as many file processing steps as possible (task bundles)?||Reduction in familiarization time||. For each activity, the resource is selected among a pool of suitable employees who have previously worked on the file – if applicable
. Employee who is familiar with the file= less familiarization time. Possible increase in service quality
|Increase in quality|
|Can resources be assigned so as to preserve optimal flexibility in the short term? (i.e.: pool of files)||Reduction in waiting time||. Reduction in overall waiting time- file processing less likely to be delayed due to specific resources’ availability
. Additional benefit: the most specialized agents might eventually be able to handle most of the work which could lead to an increase in quality. Option when priorities are difficult to determine
|Increase in quality|
|Is there a way to get geographically dispersed resources to work as if they were close?||Better use of resources||. Resources who can be involved in a more flexible way
. Practice harmonization issue when covering several time zones
. Adequate and efficient technologies needed
|(Possible) reduction in throughput time|
|Can overlapping responsibilities be avoided for staff working in different operating units?||Increase in quality||. Better quality of task execution achieved through reduction in overlapping responsibilities
. Enhanced work proactivity: the beneficiaries are served faster. Through processes, it is possible to see who does what and when, which can have a positive impact on the atmosphere in the workplace
. Greater responsibility and accountability
|Increase in responsiveness|
|Resources (Employees)||Do we require resources to be trained to become more specialized or more generalized? (Need the right ratio of each)||Increase in quality||. The specialist builds the routine faster and can have a more in-depth knowledge than the generalist -> he works faster and delivers work that is of higher quality
. Generalist availabilities add more flexibility to the process and can lead to better use of resources; generalists are more versatile. More generalists = less risks when staff are leaving
|Can employees be granted maximum decision-making authority and can middle management be reduced?||Reduction in throughput time
|. Employees with autonomous decision-making power – smoother operations with shorter throughput times
. Reduction in the number of intermediaries lowers the cost of labor time spent on file processing. Increase in employee engagement due to increase in responsibilities
|Increase in efficiency|
|Has training been considered for specific activities?||Increase in quality||. Training costs
. Development of employee skills
|Reduction in processing time|
|Is there a way to promote employee engagement for those involved in the process?||Increase in quality||. Motivation issue – employee engagement needed
. Can be achieved indirectly via document parameters, required quality, audits and reviews
. Process understanding and communication are essential as they motivate employees
|Reduction in throughput time|
|Management||Can the number of approval levels be reduced?||Reduction in throughput time||. Specific cases might be dealt with incorrectly
. Should be fine if controls are performed on a regular basis
|Can some hierarchical levels be cut out?||Reduction in throughput time
|. More staff involved in file processing tasks as opposed to management|
|Has the process owner be identified?||Increase in quality||. Responsibility – accountability
. Avoids conflicts (there should only be one process owner)
|Have measurement indicators been identified for each process?||Increase in quality
Increase in beneficiary satisfaction
Increase in efficiency
|. Performance evaluation
. Measurement indicators will be difficult to apply (new tools needed, additional costs)
This toolkit seeks to help business analysis practitioners optimize the organizational processes that have previously been targeted for review. If some of the Best Practices outlined in this document are already well known and established, others are less so, but deserve equal attention. Working through these practices will not only make sure that you have “thought about everything” but it might also help you explore new scenarios. To be used without restraint!