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Lean Manufacturing via Business Process Reengineering 


PART IV. 

 

The Reengineering Team

The reengineering team takes on a very significant role during this phase. The team must be led by the business community members, not outsiders, who have the business savvy, organizational skills, knowledge and clout to make changes happen. Outsiders include members from the information technology (IT) group and external consult­ants. A common mistake made by most companies is to have the reengineering efforts led and managed by the IT organization. While the IT function is a very important component, it will not have the wide influence required to make radical changes that are needed. The team must be responsible for scoping, structuring, and managing the con­struction and implementation of related systems, technolo­gies, procedures and human resource enablers from the reengineering proposal. The team must maintain the balance between the elements—people, process, and technology.6

The members from the business community, besides bring­ing all of the stated benefits, also bring a personal stake in the outcome. One of the most difficult challenges is to obtain the necessary level of involvement from these people. While these people may not be available full-time for this effort, they have to be involved more than half-time, at a minimum, during the program. There is some value in having these people removed from their current positions to be full-time on the reengineering effort to enable them to be objective in redesigning the new process. However, they need to stay in touch with the business as well. The outsiders—whether they be consultants, or IT members-play an invaluable role. They bring a fresh perspective and the creative naiveté to ask, "Why do we do things this way?" Consultants, in addition, bring the methodology, disci­pline, and requisite experience to avoid some of the com­mon pitfalls.8

The Role of Benchmarking

In order to jump start the process of "thinking-out-of-the-box," benchmarking other companies for similar processes have proved to be valuable. Typicjally, best-practices from other industries can be an eye-opener. Texas Instruments, for example, used the Pizza company process and the Airline industry models for reengineering their order ful­fillment processes for custom, semi-conductor business. In so far as it enables companies to look outside for alternative ways of designing processes, benchmarking can help to break a company's inwardly focused mind-set. Benchmarking can identify realistic performance objec­tives and target characteristics for companies to match or surpass best practices from other companies or industries.3

Information Technology as an Enabler

Conventional wisdom, among reengineering practitioners, is that process design and development should occur before commencing the design of the supporting information system solution. While this sounds logical, this approach misses the opportunity of using information technology as an enabler. Since most of the reengineered processes take advantage of current capabilities with IT such as distrib­uted or client/server computing, work-group computing etc., it has become more important to take into account the potential of IT to influence the new process design. Information is an extraordinarily powerful lever for the redesign of core processes. Changing where you deliver information, how you deliver it, and what you deliver can have a dramatic impact on performance.9 As Thomas Dav­enport says: "But IT can play an even more important role in process innovation. When we understand how compa­nies in many industries have used technology in innovative ways to improve their processes, we can better design new processes."3

A recent reengineering article cites a company failing three times to bring off a reengineering effort. The article quotes: "It spent a lot of time building castles in the air regarding process redesign without paying attention to information technology."1

To be Continued


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