Business Process Re-engineering / BPR
As expectations rise and competitive targeting intensifies, Local Authorities need to be able to deliver services demonstrating continuously improving
performance. To do this, the need is for agility - moving to processes and systems that are flexible and adaptable to better meet changing demands.
Business Process Re-engineering brings together customers, employees, partners and IT applications into unified and integrated flows.
Over time, departments and sometimes functions within departments, erect barriers. Documents, materials and information that needs to flow between departments is delayed in passing from in-tray to out-tray to in-tray again.
Characteristic defensive behaviour, such as date stamping and countersigning emerges as one department blames another for a mistake or delay. Procedures emerge. Paper work and meetings grow in an attempt to counteract these difficulties to an extent where it is actually very difficult to co-ordinate activities and get things done. It is at this point that the objectives can actually be in conflict with the organisation and procedures.
Europartnership brings many years of experience and considerable application skills in BPR.
Business Process Re-engineering (also known as "BPR", "Business Process Re-design" or "Organisational Redesign"). BPR generally approaches the problem from the point of view of the customer and of the process. Customer views are required to ensure that the eventual design actually satisfies them. Process views are required to try to remove the in-tray problem, and to focus activity within it on the goal of the process not the function, so that unneeded or irrelevant activity is removed. However the functional organisation has strengths too in critical mass, and flexibility. These need to be considered.
There are a number of Stages to BPR:
- Define objectives / goals (of the process)
-Strategic Benchmarking (Is this a sensible objective?)
- Data Collection of the "as-is" situation (taking into account dynamism and variability in the business)
- Analysis of the "as-is"
- Blue sky (if anything were possible) design
- Trade off's and prioritisation
- Concept design
- Detail design
- Steady State
BPR can begin with the strategic view - to avoid simply making a low level activity or function more efficient (sub-optimising). However, work has to be carried out to a clearly defined scope in order to achieve anything in a satisfactory time-scale, budget and risk.
Experience of large scale BPR suggests that it is a great revenue earner for large consultancies, and can cause chaos in implementation (High risk but
without the opportunities presented by IT can be sub-optimal).
Experience of small scale BPR at a department level can be making a function efficient doing unnecessary things when viewed from a higher level (Small effect).
Experience of BPR without IT makes for effective but often inefficient operation. It can also lead to not exploiting IT to do something that is
otherwise impossible (Solving the wrong problem).
Experience of BPR in conjunction with major IT change has resulted in catastrophic short-term effects, with large projects often in major over-run but
usually with the best long-term outcome. (Very high risk, very high benefit).
Experience of software implementation is that organisational and procedural matters are often forgotten resulting in automating an ineffective process, or applying an inappropriate technique, or layering the new software processes on top of the old ones duplicating the work, and eventually failing. (Low risk, little or no benefit).
- A process is a sequence of logically related activities, tasks, or procedures with a goal and leading to an outcome.
- A function is a collection of activities relating to a skill-set, person or institution.
- A procedure is a series of actions carried out in a certain order or manner
- A project is a series of related and loosely related one-off tasks designed to produce a one-off or small volume output. Implied in project work is the co-ordination of different specialisms, in large-scale longer-term undertakings.
- A process can cover a number of people in different functions. In fact it is independent of function. An example would be that accounts (function)
do credit checking on a new customer, as a part of the sales process.
There are a further two schools of thought on resources for BPR projects. The best people should be assigned to the project on a full time basis for
the duration of the project, (and usually given the plum jobs in the redesigned business). This may give short-term difficulties since these people are the main people running your business today, but gives the best results and simple project management.
Part time and sub-contract resources are used to undertake the project. This keeps your business running but usually the project management is difficult. In smaller businesses this may be the only way it can be done, but the results are generally not so satisfactory.
It will be difficult to overcome inter-function disputes, and remove the politics from the process unless the project is managed by a senior person, and
is representative of all the stakeholders with local knowledge.
Regular project management reviews by senior executives should prevent terms of reference drift, as well as control project quality, cost and time-scales. We cover this in our workshop.
Tools and Techniques
The full range of BPR tools, from which we select the most appropriate for
our clients, include:
- Purpose analysis (To identify the objectives.)
- Flowcharting (To identify current or future information, material, or document flows.)
- Waste analysis (To identify waste in the current process.)
- Ownership Analysis (To identify changes of ownership of material, information or documents during their life.)
- Benchmarking (To identify alternative strategies, organisation, processes, procedures and methods.)
- Resource Domination Analysis (To identify what products or services consume what resources.)
- Product life cycle analysis (To identify whether investment in particular products and processes are worthwhile.)
- Force field analysis (To identify cultural constraints)
- Pareto Analysis (To sort the wheat from the chaff, in products, processes, value, space utilisation etc.)
- Segmentation (A method of virtually or actually segmenting the business or processes.)
- Input / Process / Output diagrams (A method of defining a process)
- Control Systems Design (A method of identifying appropriate control systems techniques for the new situation.)
- Measures of Performance Design (A method of identifying how the new process will be measured.)
- Culture Development (A method of identifying cultural development needs.)
- Supplier development (A method of identifying and developing a suppliers ability to support the redesigned process.)
- Postponement and Mass Customisation (A method of improving flexibility, and reducing lead times.)
- Impact / Ease Analysis (A method of identifying the appropriate things to develop and how to control their development.)
- Risk analysis, SWOT, and FMEA (Methods of identifying which aspects of the process or development are risky and which need close monitoring
or preventative measures to avoid problems.)