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What is business process reengineering?

Process re-engineering is an important aspect of process analysis that can help streamline operations, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. Process re-engineering involves analyzing existing processes and making significant changes to optimize them. This can include streamlining processes, eliminating unnecessary steps, and introducing automation technologies.

What exactly is process re-engineering?

Business process reengineering (BPR) is a strategy to redesign core business processes. BPR can optimize end-to-end business processes, identify ineffective tasks, and help teams reach specific business goals. 

BPR can make radical improvements in aspects like quality, cost, or speed compared to incremental business process improvement (BPI). However, BPR can also disrupt workflows and can fundamentally change business operations. So before you redesign your business processes, make sure everyone understands the status quo they are changing and their key goals. 

Why are you redesigning your business processes? 

Why are you thinking about BPR right now? Why not conduct it in six months or even a year? 

A quick look at the current macro environment will give you plenty of reasons. War, a pandemic, and restrictions on the free movement of goods have thrust the world into a new era of de-globalization. 

Rising energy prices, weak supply chains, trade bans, and labor shortages are the upshot. Companies can survive these issues with processes best suited to the changing business landscape. Simply put, BPR can be a radical solution when external disruptions threaten key operations. 

Advantages of BPR 

Business processes were conducted in individual and often forgotten silos for many years. Now, as technology makes it easier to integrate information and departments, many organizations still have not reached a unified digital vision. 

But experts can introduce new technology and automated workflows to improve every aspect of the business. Business process reengineering is a chance for strategists to analyze many business areas such as customer experience and supply chains, etc. BPR also gives teams from various departments a chance to come together and pinpoint any processes needing improvement to develop new business goals. 

Benefits of business process reengineering: 

Clarity of purpose

Most organizations don’t document their processes end-to-end and likely can’t describe them, either. So before doing anything else, ensure you understand every aspect of your business inside and out, from your mission statement to your customer base. 

Streamlined operations 

BPR can cut unnecessary processes and offer streamline business operations flows and a clear sense of execution. The path between the start and end of a project becomes much shorter. Simple and effective work methods increase employee productivity and satisfaction.  

Increased efficiency

Increased efficiency speeds up daily activities and removes red tape to make work more meaningful. Improved processes give employees more time to improve products and services. Simply put, BPR brings out the best in everyone.  

Bigger profits

Implementing efficient working styles and smoother workflows means more informed employees focusing on maximizing profits and increasing productivity.

5 steps of business process reengineering planning

Step one: map your current business processes 

Gather information on all resources, from software tools to stakeholders, to understand your current process performance with process mapping

Step two: identify errors in current processes 

Before improving your processes, you must identify and analyze current errors and delays in process flows. Check all the details that can be found in the respective steps to help stakeholders make quick and easy decisions. 

Step three: check the necessity of opportunities 

Identify the steps and judge their necessity. Unnecessary steps can be removed or automated. For example, an employee can waste time manually writing and sending follow-up emails. Automating small tasks can save organizations a lot of time and money.   

Step four: design future processes 

Now that you’ve identified the good and bad processes, it’s time to create a new process map with new goals. During this stage, it’s vital to measure process steps with KPIs. 

Step five: Inform and update employees 

Educate teams about the new processes and keep everyone updated and aligned along the way. Continue to monitor this process with KPIs. 

BPR steps to success 

Educate employees about long-term changes 

BPR is not a one-time exercise that magically cuts costs and makes everything more efficient. In fact, cost reduction is a byproduct of efficient processes that need to be continuously analyzed, communicated, and understood. Employees need to be trained in new working methods for a business to thrive. 

Leave no department behind

Organizations might evaluate the processes of one department while leaving others to carry on as normal. This is a bad idea. Every department is connected, so every process must be evaluated.

Build a BPR team

A BPR team is a group of decision-makers capable of recommending changes and communicating BPR benefits. A typical BPR team involves top management, tech groups, finance experts, and process user groups. Make sure you keep the size of your BPR team small enough to manage. Too many cooks spoil the broth. 

Get inspiration from competitors 

Many organizations only look into their own processes. However, they should also see what their competitors are up to and stay updated with industry trends. You can even build your benchmarks around your competitor’s best practices.

Ford: An example of successful BPR

One famous example of successful business process redesign comes from the Ford Motor Company. Ford once had an ineffective accounts payable process, which required the attention of around 500 people. 

However, Mazda, Ford’s competitor, had a much better system in place. This system inspired Ford to analyze its ineffective accounts payable process, which caused bottlenecks and required the attention of many workers.   

At the beginning of the process, the purchasing department wrote the purchase order before manually sending a copy to accounts payable. 

Then, the person in charge of resource allocation would receive the goods needed to send a copy of the related document to accounts payable. 

Finally, the vendor sent a receipt for the goods to accounts payable. 

The flowchart below illustrates Ford’s old accounts payable process.

an example of Ford's ineffective accounts payable process
Ford's old accounts payable process

With new technology, Ford adopted an invoiceless process. Now the company has a more efficient process conducted by around 100 employees. Payments are made automatically, and less time is wasted waiting for vendor invoices. 

The flowchart below illustrates Ford’s current simplified accounts payable process. 

An example of a flowchart after business process re engineering
Successful BPR flowchart

The Bottom Line 

Business process reengineering can dramatically improve organizational processes, employee productivity, return on investment, and employee satisfaction. 

A business process reengineering plan needs to be effective to make the business process implementation phase a success. The procedure requires planning, communication, and dedication. You can learn more about business process implementation here.

Written by

Josef Konderla

Content Marketing Manager

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