Lean Manufacturing via Business Process Reengineering 



Phase 2: Diagnosis

Key activities in this phase include scoping and modeling the current process and activities, and establishing targets for the new process. Some of the questions answered in this phase are: what is the process all about; what does it take to get the process done; what is needed from the new design; why does the current design not perform better; and what opportunities exist for redefining the output of the process.

Reengineering Training and Education

One of the areas overlooked by most companies engaged in reengineering is training the teams early in the process. Workshops have to conducted with the senior executives to create the awareness and to help them get prepared for the long journey ahead. Right level of expectations will also be set at the executive level. The reengineering teams will have to be trained on the methodology for reengineering. There is no substitute for this early learning at all levels.

Scoping the Process

Most companies must consider reengineering the core business process that has the greatest potential for deliv­ering significant competitive advantage. While prioritization of the process itself should be done in the earlier phase, the scoping of this process must be a major activity in this phase. Companies that get started with reengineering activities without fully scoping the process end up fighting scope issues through all remaining phases. The scope of the process has to be developed very carefully. First, a clear vision of the end-state has to be identified along with the definition of the value to be created. This has to be then balanced with the breadth of functions and the capacity of the organization to sustain the effort. The boundaries for selected process must be clearly defined. If process limits are not clearly defined, you can end up with analyses that are never completed, or a reengineering process that requires such far-reaching and complex changes that it simply cannot be implemented.6

Current Process Analysis

Before designing the new process, we need to understand what's wrong with the current process. The team needs to identify the value-adding steps associated with the current process and understand the problems related to perfor­mance of these activities. Current performance measure­ments have to be identified and related to inherent process limitations.

Current processes have to be examined from a customer's point of view. It is important to keep a high level perspec­tive and not get bogged down in details. One of the major mistakes in reengineering is spending far too much time on analysis of current processes. Dr. Hammer says people get stuck in up-front analysis very often, because they don't know how to proceed through a reengineering effort.1

There usually is a great deal of resistance in most companies to perform a current state analysis. This is usually perceived as a non value-added activity. Such analyses would have been done many times under various initiatives, most recently perhaps with the TQM projects. Even in such cases, one would find that the analyses performed with prior initiatives to be more narrow in scope, typically at a functional level. It will be therefore worthwhile to map the process at a high level, characterizing it from a customer's perspective.

Phase 3: Redesign

This is the phase team members seem to enjoy the most. Details of the new process are identified, tested and prototyped during this phase. Team members are usually encouraged to "think-out-of-the-box" and start the design with a blank sheet of paper. Starting from scratch, companies can plan and build the new infrastructure required to realize the new design. This new infrastructure should include programs like comprehensive training and skill-development plans, performance measurement sys­tems that track how well the organization is meeting its targets and how employees should be rewarded based on

those objectives; communication programs that help em­ployees understand why and how their behavior must change; IT development plans that capture the benefits of new technology; and finally, pilots that test and redefine the redesign as well as its implementation.7

To be Continued


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