Business Process Redesign
The technique of redesigning a process to effect a performance improvement is well established and when done properly and well can have long term sustainable impacts on an organisation. Processes can always be improved and on a day to day basis this is what staff and management should be aiming to do. In many organisations the manager or supervisor might bring the staff together to discuss yesterday's performance and ask for suggestions for improvement today. However at some point it becomes apparent that a small daily improvement is not going to be enough typically when:
- New statutory demands arise;
- New or additional Customer requirements are realised;
- There is an urgent need to reduce cost;
- Structural changes are proposed such as sharing services, merging with another organisation or in the event of an acquisition;
- Opportunities for long term investment are taken such as the introduction of new IT, enterprise wide solutions or call centres.
As and when any of these circumstances arise the need is redesign your processes not simply improve them. This implies wholesale change and looking at things in a different way. There are other labels that get applied to this technique, Lean or Systems Thinking for example but the principle is the same and the question being asked is identical. How can we do better for our customers?
To make the most of this opportunity some structure is recommended to any redesign programme and at ValueAdding.com we use five key steps:
1. Define your objectives: This is all about allowing management to create a vision, to set out what the future looks like and to compare it to the current situation. Importantly your objectives for the redesign will set the tone for the whole series of events to follow. We see many organisations go past this point or pay scant attention to it; only to have to return later to ask what the objective really is.
2. Agree the "As Is": Now that you know broadly what you are trying to achieve ask do you understand the start point. Vitally do you realise why things are done as they are now and what the consequences of that are? Do you appreciate the potential for improvement that already exists? It is crucial to undertake this step so that the mistakes of the past are not introduced into the future but again we see too many organisations try to by-pass this point.
3. Define the "To Be": This is the time for creativity. How can we do things better? Really focus on the actual not the perceived needs of your customers and design something that meets them. Anything that does not meet the customer needs must be regarded as superfluous to requirements.
4. Implement: Having spent all this effort designing something new, why do many organisations fail to implement? The key here is to realise from the outset that implementation is going happen and to plan for it from day one. When defining your objectives, one of them might be the implementation date. Set your expectations early. Try pilot runs to build confidence and involve those staff members who are going to be affected at all stages. Test things out, reject those that do not work, accelerate those that do. Create a programme of events and stick to it. This demonstrates to all that you are serious about the need for the change.
5. Continuous Improvement: Once things are implemented recognise that this is not the end. In effect you are back at the start with daily meetings to assess yesterday's performance and decide on today's improvements. Processes can always be improved and change is a constant.
Underpinning our approach are three rules for process redesign.
a) The Golden Rule: Always redesign from the customer's point of view not your own.
b) The Silver Rule: Always redesign processes before designing or procuring your IT.
c) The Bronze Rule: Always redesign your processes before redesigning your organisational structure.
At ValueAdding.com we help you to get this right.