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Business Process Reengineering
Part 1 of 6 

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Increasingly companies and managers are thinking in terms of reengineering their processes. Underlying this tendency is an awareness that all firms are defined by their processes and that these processes tend to lose focus over time. This loss of focus occurs naturally as a result of internal changes (actions taken within the process) and external actions (changes in customer expectations and competitive actions). Reengineering is needed to refocus processes and to help managers "reinvent" their compa­nies. However, Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is for many managers an ill-defined and poorly structured concept. It is a process surrounded by many unanswered questions and issues. The steps needed to carry out a successful BPR analysis are not well understood. Further­more, there is the question of are we addressing the right issues or problems in our BPR project. This presentation reexamines the entire topic of BPR. Using the universal breakthrough sequence developed for Total Quality Man­agement by Juran and the experiences of the authors with BPR projects, this presentation identifies steps that can be taken to significantly enhance the success of any BPR project.

Objectives of the Presentation

Specifically, this presentation will address the following objectives:

• Discuss the forces that compel companies and manag­ers to seriously consider BPR;

• Define the concept of BPR;

• Develop a "Poka-Yoke" View of Processes;

• Present a universal breakthrough sequence for carry­ing out BPR projects;

• Identify and examine those conditions that demand a radical change in current processes (as compared to incremental changes in the current processes), and

• Identify and present guidelines aimed at the success­ful implementation of BPR.

By following through with these objectives, this presenta­tion attempts to reduce some of the confusion surrounding the whole topic of BPR. Furthermore, it tries to help managers maximize their chances of successfully taking advantage of the capabilities offered by BPR.

Why Business Process Reengineering Now?

The primary focus of BPR is the process. Why focus process? There are several important reasons for being concerned about processes. First, it is important for us to

understand that processes are central to every enterprise and every business endeavor. Firms are not defined by their products. The hamburger produced by McDonalds, for example, is not really that different from the hamburger made by one its major competitors (e.g., Wendy's or Burger King). What differentiates McDonald from its competitors is the process by which the hamburger was made and delivered to its customer. In other words, we can think of products as being bundles of attributes. These attributes which pertain to the four foundations of value: lead time, quality, cost and flexibility, are shaped by the processes designed and built into the firm. If we want to change the product, we must ultimately change the process by which the product is generated. This is the realization that led a company like Taco Bell to revise its entire process of delivering fast food in its restaurants. Another way of looking at processes and their importance is to think about Toyota's success with Just-in-Time (JIT) Manufacturing. One reason that it has been so successful can be found in its process.

Second, every firm consists of at least eight major pro­cesses: (1) the strategic management process, (2) the innovation process, (3) the customer service process, (4) the resource management process (of which procedures such as MRP and shop floor control are part), (5) supply chain management process, (6) logistics management process, (7) measurement process and (8) other supporting pro­cesses. In short, firms are bundles of processes. Nearly everything that happens within the firm is the result of a process.

Third, customers themselves are becoming aware of the importance of processes. When customers ask the firm to show the process by which orders are accepted and filled,
what they are asking is that the firm show that it under­ stands its processes and that it has these processes under control. After all, a process that is understood, documented and under control is by its very nature more predictable and reliable.

To be Continued


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