Business Process Redesign: BPR Explained

Julia Lopes
business process redesign

Business success depends on the quality of business processes. That’s the truth that drives the work of business process redesign. Whether the challenge is achieving greater operational efficiency, overcoming collaboration or data silos, or generating additional revenue, the only way to achieve the goal is by evaluating and redesigning processes. 

This article illustrates how business process redesign works and how to know when it’s right for your business.

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What is process redesign?

Process redesign begins with the understanding that business needs change over time. As a result, processes will need to be evaluated and reengineered if they are to remain relevant and efficient. Process redesign involves altering methods, approaches, and activities in order to improve overall process performance. Process redesign relies on benchmarks to measure progress and determine success. 

Process redesign is an effort that’s usually thought of as a business function, but you can also find examples in everyday life. For instance, someone with a goal of building muscle mass may need to adjust their morning routine to have more time for lifting weights. This person may also need to adjust their meal preparation process to add more protein to their diet or modify the type and frequency of their workouts in response to recovery and endurance requirements.

However, unlike changing a gym routine, business process redesign often involves overhauling complex tasks and workflows in pursuit in order to attain significant process improvements.

What is business process redesign (BPR)?

Business process redesign — or business process reengineering — is a strategy for building better businesses by optimizing the processes that help the business achieve its goals. It does not assume that incremental changes are ideal. In fact, BPR challenges process engineers and managers to break away from conventional or familiar processes, if doing so will help them achieve better results. 

The concept of BPR can be traced to Michael Hammer’s 1990 article Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate. In this paper, Hammer argues that modest, incremental changes to processes can’t deliver the kind of competitive advantages that businesses need to differentiate themselves.

Instead, Hammer writes that what business should do instead is scrap ineffective processes, rethink the goal of the process, and then build a new process from scratch. In other words, Hammer says that businesses need to stop playing it safe and start thinking outside the box. 

BPR can be applied to any process in any area of the business. For example, consider a payroll process that is prone to errors, delays, and is dragging down employee satisfaction. In this example, creating meaningful change will take more than just changing the day paychecks are distributed. To fix all of the problems, the finance team may need to create a new process map, or even hire a third-party service to handle the record keeping, calculations, and payments.

Business process reengineering is one strategy companies use to achieve operational excellence

Differences between process redesign and process improvement

Process redesign involves fundamental and sometimes dramatic modifications to achieve results. Process improvement, on the other hand, relies on incremental changes to perfect results that are considered acceptable but not ideal. Process improvement is appropriate when big changes aren’t possible, or when the results very nearly meet targets. Process redesign is appropriate when results fall very short of goals or when many changes are needed at once. 

Difference between business process redesign and reengineering

Business business process redesign and business process reengineering are similar concepts. The terms are often used interchangeably to describe dramatic changes meant to improve performance, quality, profitability, efficiency, or results.

Both processes involve assessing current operations, coming up with changes, and establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the reengineered processes. Both redesign and reengineering focus on these outcomes instead of tasks. This is different from the task-focused approach needed for process improvement.

Difference between business process redesign and change

Business process change refers to any alteration that a company makes to their operations. It covers both minor improvements and major redesigns. It is possible to make a distinction based on the level of change.

  • Business process improvement involves subtle changes to existing activities.
  • Business process redesign and reengineering involve significant changes to operations, such as adopting a completely new way of performing a specific task.

In other words, business process change can also include redesign, but it also includes more modest alterations.

How does business process redesign work?

Business process redesign requires specific steps. You perform these steps regardless of the process that you intend to change.

1. Assess the current process

The first step in any process redesign is to assess the current process. This will allow you to decide if a major overhaul is needed or if you can simply make incremental improvements to get the desired result. During this step, it can pay to get insights from the people involved in the process, company managers and stakeholders, and other departments who are affected by the results of the process.

2. Identify issues with current activities

After you understand the structure of the existing process, find the optimization opportunities. These include issues such as delays, errors, quality problems, inconsistent outputs, or unnecessary expenses. These areas can become your targets for redesign.

3. Define the necessary process changes

Now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. You already have a list of problems with your current process. Now you have to devise the solutions to those problems. In business process redesign, this means building an entirely new version of the process.

4. Define KPIs

At some point you will need to understand how the new process is performing compared to the previous version. How well is it meeting its goals? Can the improvements be quantified? To do this, you’ll need to define your KPIs.

These might include shorter timeframes for a process, lower costs, improvements in sales numbers or marketing conversions, or better customer satisfaction ratings. KPIs should always be objective, not subjective. Most process management software include features that can help you track these KPIs. 

5. Implement the changes

The final step is to put the redesigned process into motion. When the time for implementation comes, be prepared for any contingencies or unexpected incidentals that arise. Have a plan in place to identify, assess, and address these contingencies on the spot. 

When should you consider process redesign?

Business process redesign is not always the best solution. In some cases, minor tweaks are enough to bring about the desired results. In other instances, it might be better to keep things as they are or focus your efforts on other processes.

Here are four examples of situations where business process redesign is the best solution.

Overall process inefficiency

Inefficiencies hurt businesses by eating revenue, creating unnecessary work, consuming resources, and driving up costs. In these situations, the process is likely not achieving its target consistently, if at all. If this sounds like the process you’re evaluating, it’s probably a good candidate for process redesign.

Delayed SLAs

Service-level agreements define the service a company has to deliver to a client. These can sometimes be overly complicated. A process redesign can involve renegotiating the agreement or changing operations so that your company can deliver the same results more efficiently.

Too much manual work

In some cases, the entire process is lengthened and more complicated than necessary because employees need to perform tasks manually. Examples could include entering data by hand, sending out marketing emails individually, or responding to customer service queries. In today’s business world, automation allows computers to replace employees performing manual tasks. Workers can then focus on higher-level tasks, which can ultimately increase efficiency and productivity.

High error rate

An assessment of current business operations could reveal excessive errors. These could be caused by unqualified employees, poor equipment, a lack of training, or outdated systems. The goal of a process redesign can include improving training or hiring or automating processes to reduce instances of human error.

Pipefy can streamline your business process redesign

Pipefy’s low-code process management software supports process redesign efforts. Users with no coding experience can build, modify, and automate any type of process or workflow using a visual interface. Pipefy enables business teams to take a co-creative problem solving role that conserves developer resources and builds stronger partnerships with IT.

See why more companies trust Pipefy to optimize and automate all their processesPipefy BPA

Written by
Julia Lopes
Senior Marketing Analyst @ Pipefy. Passionate about sharing valuable and informative content. Currently writing about the unique ways teams and businesses can use low-code process automation to optimize processes and adapt to digital change.

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