Your operations strategy is not set in stone. In fact, you must change it from time to time to stay ahead of the competition and meet business goals. Business process reengineering ensures that all employees and processes use the right information to work toward the correct goals.

What is Business Process Reengineering (BPR)?

Business process reengineering (BPR) is a strategy used to analyze and improve workflows and business processes within an organization. It strives to minimize errors and costs. In most cases, BPR is triggered by the need for streamlined operations, increased efficiency, improved services or products, and increased profitability. 

BPR is a fairly lengthy process that consists of several steps. These steps revolve around analyzing current processes, identifying opportunities for improvement, communicating the need for change, and explaining the planned improvements. It includes the design of a future-state process map and implementation of those future-state changes. By following all of these steps, an organization can meet (or even exceed) its business goals.

BPR vs. BPM: What's the difference between business process management and business process reengineering?

While BPR and business process management (BPM) are sometimes used interchangeably, there are a few important differences between them. BPM is an ongoing effort aimed at improving efficiency and effectiveness. It’s a long-term strategy for creating and maintaining processes that support your employees, partners, and customers. Current processes are effective but may need to be tweaked and optimized. BPM may make sense if your organization has processes that work but could use some improvement over time. 

BPR, on the other hand, redesigns existing processes from the ground up to achieve desired results. BPR is a better solution if your processes are no longer effective, your goals have changed, or you’d like to focus on drastic improvements within a specified period of time. If you pursue BPR, you’ll also need to implement BPM on an ongoing basis to have the best chance of success. 

The 7 Steps of Business Process Reengineering

1. Identify the need

Before your organization begins BPR, senior management needs to determine why it’s necessary. Document and clarify the situation, the mission statement, customer base, competition, and opportunities. Clearly outline what you hope to achieve. 

If leaders don’t take the time to identify the need, there may be faulty assumptions that will do nothing but add confusion and undermine the process. This step will inspire the most important people in your organization to think out-of-the-box and make significant changes to what’s currently perceived as “normal.”

2. Build a team of experts

The team of experts you select for BPR must consist of enthusiastic, motivated individuals with various skills and viewpoints. A cross-functional team is necessary because you may not be able to diagnose problems and create solutions without one accurately. The risk of failure may increase if everyone has the same expertise or background. Figure out how many people will be on the team; too few or too many can do more harm than good. The size of your organization and your business goals will help you come to this number.

Select a well-versed manager in the ins and outs of the current processes—someone who can serve as the go-to individual and lead other team members from various business units such as accounts payable, marketing, and IT. After you finalize your team, meet with them and clearly define the organizational goals so that everyone is on the same page.

3. Identify and analyze your current business processes

Once you’ve established a competent team, it’s time to define and analyze your current processes. If you have many processes, prioritize the inefficient, cross-functional ones or have the most significant impact on your organization. You can always return to the other processes eventually.

Document the steps of each process, so all team members have a thorough understanding of how it works. Ask the team to pinpoint each process's strengths and weaknesses so you can uncover the ones that really need to be changed. Studying your existing processes will provide a solid base for the new processes you’ll design down the road.

4. Identify improvement opportunities

Next, focus on opportunities for improvement and define key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are quantifiable measures that demonstrate how effectively your organization is meeting its objectives. 

For example, if the goal is to improve an IT process, KPIs may be the average time it takes to repair software, the number of tickets closed by the support team, or the time it takes to recover after a cybersecurity attack. 

Consider what types of improvements will support your goals and steer your organization in the right direction. Ensure your company has the budget, talent, and time to implement these changes within the project timeframe. 

5. Communicate the planned changes throughout the organization

It is essential to communicate your planned changes throughout your organization. Employees at every level should be aware of why the changes are needed and the negative effects of adopting them. Depending on your company's size, you may want to hold a company-wide meeting or ask managers to share the information with their teams.

No matter how you disclose the planned changes to your employees, use clear and direct language. Take the time to answer questions thoroughly and address concerns right away. Most business process reengineering changes require the cooperation of employees in every business unit; failure to properly communicate process changes can make implementation a challenge and threaten the project's success.

6. Design/develop a future-state process map

A future-state process map shows the ultimate goal of business process reengineering toward which all employees can work. Think of it as a shared vision that your entire organization hopes to achieve. To design a future-state process map, identify the critical steps in BPR and the best way(s) to accomplish them. 

Streamline the process. This may involve reducing, eliminating, or outsourcing certain steps or activities. Using technology to automate repetitive tasks, cross-train employees to consolidate steps, and limit the number of supplies, procedures, or people when possible. 

7. Implement the future state changes

Now that you’ve completed the heavy lifting of BPR, you’ll want to roll out the future state changes. Perform a small test and compare its outcomes to your KPIs. In this way, you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your future state changes.

A test allows you to make any changes to the process before implementing it at an organizational level. When you implement the future state changes company-wide, analyze them continually so you’re aware of all successes and failures. If you notice any failures, work with your team to develop a game plan for how you can address or prevent them.

A famous example of BPR: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a famous example of a big brand that used BPR to transform its accounts payable department. Ford Motor Company discovered that while it had 500 people in accounts payable, its competitor, Mazda, had only five people, revealing serious inefficiencies in Ford’s accounts payable processes. The automaker used BPR to reduce the number of accounts payable clerks by a couple hundred. 

Ford identified the problems with its current account payable process: excessive salary spends, the need for multiple documents, human error, confusion, and delays in raw material purchases. Ford implemented its future state changes and reduced its accounts payable workforce by 75%, becoming far more productive and cost-efficient. 

Standardize and automate business process management with Pipefy

To ensure the success of the new processes you implement during BPR, ongoing BPM is vital. Because the ideal way to optimize a process is to automate as much as possible, a solution like Pipefy is invaluable. 

Pipefy enables employees to use a no-code platform to automate any workflows on their own. It’s the ultimate way to handle tedious and repetitive tasks. A BPM platform like Pipefy also simplifies modeling by providing pre-built templates for various common processes. 

Intrigued? Start managing reliable, efficient processes today with a free trial of Pipefy.

BPR redesigns existing processes from the ground up to achieve desired results. BPR is a better solution if your processes are no longer effective, your goals have changed, or you’d like to focus on drastic improvements within a specified period of time.