“Castles in the air find place on ground, visions come alive, strategies materialize, and organisations excel. There is but one disclaimer. All of these come true if, and only if, backed by effective processes.”
Processes determine outcome. Business processes determine a business’ performance. Any improvements made to process efficiency and compliance improves an organsation’s performance multifold. Here lies the success of Business Process Reengineering (BPR).
WHAT IS BPR?
BPR involves analysis and re-design of workflows and processes within an organisation that are done with view to dramatically improve all-round business performance. Typically a BPR intervention involves the following steps:
1.Identify BPR opportunities in the organisation,
2.Understand the existing/ as-is process,
3.Design the to-be process,
4.Develop the implementation strategy and
5.Execute the implementation strategy.
Although the list above reads simple, BPR interventions are hardly so.
- BPR is a complex organisation-wide exercise that cuts across multiple functions involving multiple initiatives to be executed and managed in parallel.
- Along with multiple functions, multiple layers of people are involved. Hence a number of people issues creep in giving rise to ego clashes and internal politics.
- Processes need to be developed that align with the organisation’s vision, goals and structure. This requires high level of thought clarity, management acumen and strategy.
- BPRs are extremely resource intensive and demand high time, money, technology and effort to be invested. Higher the investment; better is the impact.
Battling the inherent challenges of BPR on own can be overwhelming and tough. This is why most organisations prefer to hire consultants to play the role of a guide, a project manager, a facilitator and a communications specialist. Unlike internal experts, consultants come with an independent, impartial view. They are not involved or influenced by internal politics. Owing to previous experience, they have the required expertise and are not overwhelmed by the large scale and complex nature of BPR assignments. They have high exposure to methodologies and global best practices that aid in addressing bottlenecks. Their expertise also helps in channelizing the effort of the invested resources to extract maximum impact.
The following case study may be considered to understand the impact of a successful BPR intervention on an organisation’s performance.
A SUCCESS STORY
A fast-growing FMCG Company with 26 branches in India was dealing with national distribution of a heterogeneous range of diverse perishable consumables. Like every business the company looked to increase revenues by increasing average volume of stock distributed per day. But the company did not want to either invest on more employees to quicken the loading or on more vehicles to cover more trips.
- The client did not have a dedicated internal team to do analysis and problem solving.
- It was a large scale operation that involved 26 locations across India. And they did not have prior experience or wherewithal of managing such large scale initiatives.
A study was undertaken on the inventory processes to identify and overcome loopholes in the current system that can speed up the loading and transportation process thereby enabling more distribution per day. They hired a consulting firm to partner them in this humungous task.
PITFALLS TO BE WARY OF
Despite hearing several inspiring success stories, one cannot overlook the fact that failure rate of BPR interventions is considerably high. Although BPR as a concept is not faulty, the strategy and people behind it can go wrong. There are some common pitfalls that if avoided can maximize the possibility of a successful BPR.
- Most companies resort to BPR while on declining profitability to be helped out of disaster and put back on their upward journey. They look at it as a quick-fix solution. However, it rarely works that way. BPR is a continuous improvement exercise. The managements should take a long-term view and strategise their BPR initiative accordingly.
- 2.The need for constant top management involvement in BPR is inevitable. Beyond physical and financial involvement, it calls for a major attitude shift. The management needs to ruthlessly get away from the traditional way of doing things into the new revived ways and lead by example. This helps build confidence in the rest of the team for the newly reengineered system.
- While involved in BPR, the focus is often only on the process and not on the people who execute it. Even the best conceived processes if not executed well cannot bring about any positive change. The people involved need to be amply motivated and equipped to adapt to the new processes.
- It is often observed that companies invest hugely on resources to develop world class SOPs. But most often than not, these SOPs are not implemented. There is a definite need for an effective audit mechanism to ensure compliance.
- Many a times, the management gets overly absorbed in BPR losing focus on innovation and external competition. However, these are equally important in a company’s performance and deserve consistent attention.
- The results for BPR are never immediate. It is a long-term solution. It is a capital cost and one needs to wait patiently to start reaping the benefits.