Why Business Process Redesign Still Matters

In our initial blog entry we examined the correlation between project success and people. In this entry, we will explore the impact of analyzing and changing an organization’s business processes on a project’s success. In researching this blog entry, we looked beyond traditional sources using more an unconventional source as a barometer of interest on the topic – amazon.com. Searching “business process” in Books, we received 21,486 recommendations, noting 161 business process-related books had been published in just the last 30 days. The point you might ask? We were wondering specifically if Business Process Redesign (BPR) had really become another out of fashion trend simply no longer in favor with management gurus and academia. While you may not find a BPR tome on the New York Times Best Seller list – the volume of new printed and digital material with continued research analyst focus tells us the interest in and need for BPR has never been greater.

Many organizations frequently skip BPR and proceed directly to project execution. This practice seems to be particularly prevalent with Information Technology (IT) projects. Even when executed well, IT implementations can be a daunting task for organizations. Many times the organization is not properly set up for a smooth transition once the new software has been introduced. Utilizing BPR before the start of IT project helps an organization prepare to transition stakeholders to new processes and roles. By examining and redesigning existing processes properly, the net effect is an increase in efficiency and effectiveness.

As with any organization change, there will be an organizational learning curve of course. However, after the implementation has taken place, the organization will see quicker and greater improvement in organizational performance. Of course training and organizational change management are also key elements in a success IT project roll out. Combined with BPR, the resultant increase in organizational performance is attributable to stakeholders being more comfortable with pre-defined roles and having been prepared for what to expect upon implementation. Without BPR, there is a much longer learning curve and stakeholders will have a more difficult time adjusting, rather than having their defined roles and supporting processes already in place.

BPR can be applied to larger efforts extending far beyond software implementations in both commercial and government enterprises. There are numerous examples of how impactful BPR can be. One of the more celebrated BPR efforts was conducted by CIGNA. Their efforts to conduct a major BPR effort netted operational savings of over $100 million[1] by redesigning their customer service processes and reducing operating expenses. In government, BPR can also result in better service to citizens and provide operational cost savings. A good example of successful government BPR is the City of San Diego. Implementing a BPR program in 2006, the City by 2008 had utilized BPR across 23 functions and departments. The result was annual savings of over $40 million and a $6.1 million in cost avoidance directly resulting from improved effectiveness[2].

Business Process Redesign provides value for all types of organizations by taking an in-depth look at the processes currently set in place. By baselining current processes and performing analysis to understand where the organization can improve from the inside out, new processes can be put into place. This allows organizations can get the most value out of their resources. At Brookey & Company, we embrace a comprehensive methodology when approaching the assessment of business in projects. Every organization wants to be more operationally efficient and profitable, so can you really afford not to consider Business Process Redesign?

Next installment we’ll discuss how organizational analysis and alignment, when combined with BPR, can help your enterprise become even more effective and efficient.

 

[1]  Caron JR, Jarvenpaa SL, Stoddard DB. Business reengineering at Cigna Corporation:

Experiences and lessons learned from the first five years. MIS Quarterly 1994;18:233-

250.

[2] City of San Diego, Adopted Budget, 2013, Reengineering and Competitive Government