Definition – What is Business Process Engineering?

POST on Process Improvement by Sonia Pearson

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Business process engineering refers to the study of business processes so that they can be improved and streamlined for optimum efficiency in terms of both performance and cost.

If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.Albert Einstein

This term scares some people so badly that they hire external business process engineers to act as consultants. These people then follow and get to know business processes, looking for ways in which they can be improved.

However, if you’ve ever created business processes or tweaked the way work is done to get better results, you have done business process engineering, even if only in a relatively basic form. Since you have all the inside knowledge of your business at your fingertips, an open mind and a willingness to consider all options could be all you need. Your goal is to ensure that you engineer business processes that contribute to your overall goals in every detail.

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Begins With Data

Unless you are creating an all-new business process that has never been done before, there will always be data to inform the business process engineering effort. If you are starting a new enterprise, you can look at the ways in which other businesses perform similar processes. If you’re hoping to improve current processes, you can analyze data you have already accumulated.

Some experts say that you should start with a blank slate when you embark on business process engineering, and if you’re designing a new business process, that’s all you have to get started with anyway. However, if you are looking at existing processes, it may not be necessary to chuck out everything you’ve been doing to date.

As the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” your data will indicate where the problem areas are, and from there, you can track the problem to its source. Of course, that means that you need not only the correct data but a correct interpretation of the data.

Remember, a problem may not be the fault of the particular part of the process where it manifests itself but may have originated earlier on in a process, or even in a process that only contributes to the one you’re looking at. Once again, your data is key to finding out where each piece of the process puzzle fits.

Don’t be Afraid to Start From Scratch

It can almost be easier to engineer business processes from the perspective of a brand-new enterprise. There are no entrenched habits, no processes that have become bogged down in complex steps that there were good reasons for, even though nobody remembers what they were, and no resistance to change.

Sometimes, mature organizations find that it is best to start from scratch. If a process is wasteful and dysfunctional from start to finish, that’s a sure sign you need to rethink absolutely everything. At other times, a process runs smoothly up to a point and then gets bogged down. If the earlier steps created the situation, then they must either go or face radical adjustment.

Starting over when you’ve always worked in a particular way can be difficult. The need for a paradigm shift is perhaps one of the reasons why businesses choose external business process engineering consultants. They look at business processes from a fresh perspective, but they will need a lot of information and much of your and your employees’ time to get the full picture. And, at the end of it all, your business remains accountable for any changes made and will pay the price if the business process engineering initiative fails.

This having been said, data, supplemented with the input of the people who manage and perform processes, are extremely powerful tools – but only if your data is complete and in a format that you can interpret.

What Makes Business Process Engineering a Success?

Whether you call in a consultancy firm or embark on business process engineering yourself, there are factors that will contribute to, or detract from your chances of success.

  • Your business process engineering team must be highly motivated, well-informed, and ready to think out of the box.
  • Know what business needs you seek to address. Do you hope to deliver an excellent customer experience? Are you seeking more cost-effective ways to get things done? Your goals inform the way in which you engineer your processes for efficiency.
  • Have the IT infrastructure you need. With business process engineering, IT infrastructure provides the tools and data that are needed.
  • Effective change management strategies help to get all the affected parties working together towards common goals.
  • Commitment to continuous improvement is a must. Whether you are setting up processes that will run for the first time or are streamlining, changing or revising existing systems, the actual results you achieve will point towards areas for further improvement.

Watch Out for These Pitfalls

Just going through a business engineering process is no guarantee of success. Be aware of the following pitfalls:

  • Tunnel vision: Only analyzing the consequences of changes from one department’s perspective.
  • Lack of adequate follow-up: Not allocating sufficient time to follow up on results and take corrective action.
  • Mistaken identity: Failing to recognize the source or extent of issues.
  • Lack of capacity: Failing to provide adequate tools and training to address problems.
  • Unnecessary complexity: Overcomplicating processes so that they become overly cumbersome.
  • Not getting everyone on board: A lack of commitment on every level of the organization.

How Tallyfy Helps to Make Business Process Engineering a Success

Having the right tools and data at your disposal are key to successful business process engineering. Firstly, the process must be clearly mapped, and the interfaces between individuals and the department can be indicated clearly.

Tallyfy provides a means of capturing and organizing workflows, automatically allocates tasks based on the process you engineered, and not only provides but analyses the data that shows how the process is working in real time.

During reviews following initial implementation, you will need accurate data to see how your business is performing at ground zero and in all the areas that might be impacted by changes. Since learning curves can be costly, careful monitoring helps to optimize implementation and pick up problems with areas that may have looked good on paper, but aren’t working well in practice.

Thus, you don’t have to wait for a business process engineering error to impact your bottom line before realizing that you need to tweak it. You’ll also know exactly where any hang-ups or tangles occurred, helping you to identify causes and formulate solutions.

Best of all, you can implement any changes you need to make instantly, without the need to call meetings, get everyone on board and informed, and then relaunch the process in its new format. Are you in need of a business process engineering tool? Looking for low code BPM to help? Allow us to demonstrate how Tallyfy would work in your business context for free!

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