Posted in Workflow Automation

Your Guide to Business Process Reengineering (BPR): What It Is With Examples

If you want to improve your processes, it can be tempting to work through a series of incremental tweaks. 

However, sometimes these small adjustments may not do the trick. Therefore, it may be better to simply start from scratch.

Business process reengineering (BPR) is the overhauling of entire processes to implement a new, innovative solution in its place.

Read on to learn how and when to do this and what tools you should put in place to help.

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What’s Business Process Reengineering?

Business process reengineering (BPR) is the act of completely rethinking, redesigning, and reworking processes to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and flexibility.

The practice became popular after an early 90’s article by American entrepreneur Michael Hammer in the Harvard Business Review.

Promoting the benefits of complete process redesign over incremental improvements, Hammer invited businesses to “use the power of modern information technology to radically redesign our business processes in order to achieve dramatic improvements in their performance.”

Traditional business process improvement (BPI) techniques, e.g. continuous improvement, encourage businesses to iteratively spot process weaknesses and find solutions to strengthen these inefficiencies. 

In contrast, BPR suggests that incremental improvement isn’t always enough to truly overcome all the obstacles in a process — sometimes, the existing process simply isn’t correct. Instead, a radical redesign of the entire process can lead to much better results. 

A BPR project identifies the inefficient processes within your organization and finds ways to either eradicate these workflows or reengineer them completely.

By doing this, you can make a drastic improvement to your company’s output, quality, profit margin, and turnaround speed.

What Are the Benefits of BPR? 

Whether you’re using conventional process improvement techniques or a reengineering approach, there are plenty of benefits that come from streamlining processes such as:

  • Increased revenue 
  • Cost reduction
  • Improved customer service
  • Faster processing time
  • Higher quality products
benefits of BPR

However, business process reengineering allows you to throw out legacy processes and expectations to make way for a fresh perspective and innovative solutions to old problems.

Not only that, but BPR can save you time. Incremental improvements may be appropriate if you only have one optimization goal. But, when there are many ways a process needs improving, it may be faster to simply redesign that workflow from scratch.

Plus, BPR helps reduce organizational complexity. When you start to dig into your workflows, you may find that some legacy processes are overly complicated or completely unnecessary. 

Not only can BPR help you to design better workflows, but it can also be used to reshape subsystems, eradicating unnecessary workflows in the process.

This is how La Cité college managed to cut the complexity out of its registration process.

Previously, students had to register in person, requiring lots of staff to check applications for errors manually. This was very time-consuming and expensive.

To completely overhaul the process, La Cité introduced frevvo to migrate this process online and automate the workflow.

Now, students register online, and all applications are verified automatically. As a result, staff no longer have to manually check work, and applications can be submitted in minutes.

It’s important to understand that there’s a time and place for total process redesign. It’s not always appropriate to completely overhaul workflows.

For example, when there’s only one specific improvement that needs to be made, it’s usually best to tweak your existing process. But when there are a plethora of problems, sometimes it’s smart to start again from scratch.

Likewise, if you’re reacting to feedback further up the chain, it’s often more appropriate to address the root cause of that negative feedback. However, if you want to work on innovative solutions proactively, you may consider a whole new approach to the way you work.

Business Process Reengineering Steps

If you’re considering a business process redesign, you’ll need to know how to make this radical change without interrupting other workflows too much.

Follow these steps when you’re looking to implement a reengineering initiative.

1. Identify the Need for Change

Start by identifying recurring problems that seem to shape the poor feedback in your organization.

Are you experiencing dwindling profits? Is there low output in your pipelines? Are you producing poor-quality end products? 

Communicate the persistent issues to your superiors and stress the need for change. Give examples of previous tweaks you’ve made to the current process that haven’t worked.

2. Create a BPR team

Once you get the go-ahead to rework the process, you need to put together a team that can devise an innovative solution, implement that change, and track its performance. 

Create a diverse team that brings different perspectives to the table. It’s wise to involve frontline staff who work with these processes, as they have a boots-on-the-ground view of what doesn’t work and what could be implemented. 

3. Analyze the Poor Processes

Dig deep into the existing workflows to find out what doesn’t work.

Use business process modeling software like frevvo to map each workflow so you can clearly see all the steps involved. This will help you to pinpoint the bottlenecks.

If you’ve made tweaks in the past and haven’t delivered performance improvement, several facets are likely contributing to each bottleneck.

Try using a Fishbone Diagram to perform a root cause analysis on each of the inefficiencies you can see to try and figure out what’s causing them.

fishbone diagram showing how to explore bottlenecks

Look at the 6 M’s:

  • Manpower: What problems are due to issues with staff and labor?
  • Mother Nature: How does the working environment affect the process?
  • Measure: Are the performance tracking mechanisms ideal?
  • Machine: Is the equipment suitable, up-to-date, and freely available?
  • Material: Are there enough resources available to complete the job?
  • Method: Is the process carried out in the most efficient and effective way?

4. Pinpoint Process Metrics

Next, you need to agree on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will show you whether you’ve managed to tackle those bottlenecks.

KPIs and metrics for process performance

Measure existing processes before making any changes.

5. Design and Test the Reengineered Process

Redesign the entire process from the ground up. Try to think of innovative solutions that can completely eradicate the issues that existed in previous iterations of the workflow.

For example, imagine that the last workflow was slow and costly due to repeated paperwork errors being made due to manual data entry. Rather than introducing a quality control check to validate manual data entry, you’d implement business process automation software like frevvo.

That way, you could automatically populate data fields to eliminate the manual data entry and automatically validate data so that no incorrect information slips through the net.

Once you’ve redesigned the process, implement this on a small scale to see how it works. There’s no use in rolling out a large solution without testing it first in case it has severely negative knock-on effects.

6. Track the Progress and Scale-Up

Track the progress of your new process using your pre-selected KPIs. Make sure that your BPR effort is making a significant difference before scaling the solution.

Once you’re sure that the updated process performs better than its predecessor, roll it out on a larger scale.

Business Process Reengineering Examples in Action

If you’re having trouble picturing what a BPR initiative looks like, check out these business process reengineering examples.

1. Activ8

Activ8 business process reengineering case study

Solar energy company Activ8 found that the sales and installation team were experiencing slow sales cycles due to complex manual workflows.

The existing process required sales reps to make a home visit to measure up for a quote. These measurements were taken back to the office, where a sales quote was drawn up and sent to the client for approval.

Not only was there lots of manual paperwork, but the paper trail and data entry mechanisms were also prone to error. The whole cycle took a very long time. The lengthy workflow gave customers lots of time to change their minds, reducing deal closures.

Activ8 reinvented the whole process with frevvo to eradicate the back-and-forth steps between the sales reps, office, and clients while cutting out manual paperwork.

Now, sales reps use an on-the-spot quotation calculator to give a price there and then. 

They just fill out some digital forms that auto-populate to reduce data entry and automatically validate to prevent errors. Copies of the documents are sent directly to the office and the customers. Then, they are automatically uploaded to the record-keeping system.

Customers can then use digital payments to complete the transaction right away.

As a result, Activ8 experiences faster sales cycles, the customer experience is far more streamlined, and the conversion rate is higher.

2. Initial Saudi Group

The contract process for Initial Saudi Group took between 7 and 10 days to complete as multiple parties had to approve contracts manually.

Not only was the process slow, but it often resulted in misplaced contracts and errors in the paperwork.

Rather than find incremental tweaks to speed up the process and cut errors, Initial Saudi Group overhauled the whole workflow with frevvo. 

Migrating to a digital platform, contracts are now completed using automatically validating digital forms that route to the correct approver to sign electronically. In addition, approvers are notified when contracts need to be signed to cut out delays.

Now, the whole contract process takes just six hours to complete, making it 92% faster than before.

3. Bushcare

Bushcare business process reengineering case study

Forestry firm Bushcare was struggling to manage the coordination of its daily workload.

Not only were they finding it tough to communicate tasks to the distributed workers, but the company was also experiencing compliance issues as important herbicide-related paperwork wasn’t getting filled in.

On top of that, the procedure for recording completed work was clunky, making it difficult for staff to create work updates for the payments department.

Bushcare decided to put a completely new system in place by using frevvo.

Now, a digital maintenance record is updated online. It automatically routes to the correct staff, only showing the relevant tasks for their workload.

Herbicide paperwork has also been migrated to the digital platform. Staff members are sent automatic reminders to complete the digital forms on time.

Lastly, staff can update their work records online using frevvo’s forms workflow software. These forms are automatically validated and routed to the finance department for processing.

Thanks to frevvo, Bushcare benefits from easier communication, higher levels of compliance, and simpler invoicing.

Need a Tool to Help Your BPR Effort? What to Look For 

While specific BPR tools don’t exist, business process management (BPM) software can be extremely useful in helping you plan and automate your new processes.

Here’s what to look for.

1. Planning capabilities

You’ll need to map out your new process to make sure there are no obvious bottlenecks. 

HR onboarding process map on frevvo

Look for a tool with mapping capabilities to get a visual representation of the steps throughout your workflow.

You may also want to map out the people involved and any conditions that could occur.

2. Easy to learn

Overhauling an entire process is already stressful. Don’t make it even harder for your staff by introducing a new tool that’s complex to use.

Look for a tool that’s easy to learn and provides straightforward training resources for your team.

A simple software should be intuitive to use so that everyone can get going with the process as soon as it’s implemented.

3. No code

If your process software needs coding skills to make it function, you limit the number of people who will be able to design and operate your workflows.

Consider a tool like frevvo, a low-code BPM software that allows you to build and improve new processes without learning any coding.

4. Automation 

To streamline processes, it’s time to cut out clunky manual steps by introducing automation.

Look for a tool that makes it easy to create digital forms, records, and requests that can automatically route to the right departments and approvers.

business rules for automation on frevvo

Tools like frevvo that automatically populate these forms will speed up data entry, while automatic validation functionalities prevent errors.

Automatic notifications will also reduce delays, while automatic record-keeping capabilities will ensure all records are up to date.

5. Performance tracking

The only way to make sure that your new processes are functioning better than their predecessors is to track performance.

Find a tool that has an analytics dashboard that showcases workflow performance in an easy-to-read manner so that you can compare improvements over time.

Conclusion

Tweaking processes isn’t always the most effective way to improve processes. Sometimes, it’s far more efficient to overhaul the entire system and reengineer your workflows.

Not only does business process reengineering enable you to make drastic improvements in one fell swoop, but a fresh perspective can also lead to more innovative solutions to solve inefficiencies.

If you’re reengineering processes to streamline your systems, it makes sense to switch from manual operations to automation. frevvo is your ideal business reengineering solution for a seamless transition to automated processes — sign up for the free trial now.

Author:

Ashish Deshpande has worked in the process automation space for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in successfully deploying frevvo’s software at hundreds of organizations such as HBO, New York University, and Boston Public Schools. Ashish has contributed to leading publications such as Forbes, business.com and readwrite.com. Ashish received a PhD in Computer Science from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India.