Reinventing Manufacturing 



Business Process Reengineering (BPR) principles have been around for a long time, piecemeal and under other labels. In recent years they started coming together as a discipline, incorporating world class business principles and focusing on quantum improvements—not merely con­tinuous gradual improvement.

There is still a lot of confusion and controversy concerning just what BPR is. For example, some people equate BPR with downsizing and layoffs. To others it is synonymous with computer systems. It is neither. BPR concepts are still being developed and are very much in flux.

BPR is the complete or partial "reinventing" of how busi­ness processes are done, to attain major performance improvement. It questions the underlying assumptions and principles, including what, why, by whom, and even, if—things should be done.

This presentation will contribute by stating and helping to clarify a number of important principles, plus some useful insights, techniques and hints—40 in all!

Basic Concepts

1. Start with a clean sheet of paper, mission statement, vision

Some people advocate "Nuking" the old system and start­ing from scratch. To a certain extent, we concur. You need as-fresh an approach as possible, and don't want to be unduly burdened with the paradigms of the past in design of future improvements. You also need to learn from mistakes and victories of the past. In addition, the powers that be simply may not permit one to start from scratch, at least until some credibility has been established for the approach and team.

It is probably best to initially start with a high level analysis and then concentrate on a small number of pro­cesses.

We recommend a five step design approach:

• Make a list of what you like and don't like about the existing system, and what you'd like to see. Feel free to consult others- process owners, users, customers, suppliers, auditors, whatever. Then lay this aside for awhile.

• Look at alternatives, learn about what else is avail able, benchmark, etc. Read books, take seminars, courses, read reports/success stories, make pilgrim­ages to hallowed sites of success.

• Brainstorm approaches. Agree on mission, vision, and focus. Set some overall improvement targets.

• Then, construct an abbreviated ""as-is" process map to determine what is happening now, and where the

waste and delays are occurring. Use this to better understand the process, generate issues lists and target more specific improvements than from the pre­vious steps.

• Construct a "to-be" model of the proposed process, including flow diagrams, organization, forms, proce­dures, etc.

2. "Reinvent" how the business is run, don't just make incremental changes, don't automate the mess you already have

If you're not careful, the new process becomes merely an incrementally improved old process, or worse yet, an auto­mated version of the old one. If possible, come up with a whole new, much better way to run the business or perform the process.

It's really important to get a critical mass of FRESH thinking, so that the company doesn't merely take the path of least resistance back to the old ways. There is an unseen force that tries to make almost every change effort spring back to the way it was done before. Find the forces of reaction and deal with them early. Put enough people with the right beliefs, experience, and training, in key positions to help effect change. Of course, the old way might actually be the best way, but such cases are in a very small minority.

To be Continued


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