Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Definition

Learn about BPR and how it's used to scale and improve business operations.

 

business process reengineering (BPR)  illustration

Business process reengineering offers the promise of efficiency, engagement, and productivity but is this a realistic expectation?


Getting ahead in the business world requires the ability for organizations not just to survive obstacles but rather, to come up with a way to turn them into opportunities. Instead of forcing things to go the way you want, sometimes you must step back and rethink your core business functions. That can mean going back to the drawing board and breaking down how everything works.


What Is Business Process Reengineering (BPR)?

You may have recently heard the term BPR in the context of improving processes and increasing business profitability, but what exactly is it? BPR stands for Business Process Reengineering. The definition of business process reengineering (BPR) is a systematic, disciplined approach to reducing organizational costs and redundant business processes involving the analysis of existing human and automated workflows.

In large businesses — and even smaller or medium-sized ones — processes can build up over time, becoming legacy snarls that are deeply entrenched in how things are done. BPR is a proven methodology that allows organizations to cut the Gordian Knots that may be holding back true improvements and cost optimization.


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When is Business Process Reengineering Required?

The need for business process reengineering surfaces in a variety of ways. For instance, from our article "Is it Time to Overhaul Your Processes?" we provide some indicators that it may be time for a BPR project.

  • Customer complaints and refund requests are rising.
  • Staff stress, disputes, and turnover are high.
  • Chaos reigns after experienced employees depart or go out on leave.
  • Profitability is falling.
  • Sales leads are not being followed up upon quickly.
  • Corporate governance has been lacking.
  • You are struggling with your cash flow.
  • Your inventory levels are rising.
  • You can’t fill customer orders quickly enough.

 


 

When is Business Process Re-Engineering Required?

The need for business process reengineering surfaces in a variety of ways. For instance, from our article "Is it Time to Overhaul Your Processes?" we provide some indicators that it may be time for a BPR project.

  • Customer complaints and refund requests are rising.
  • Staff stress, disputes, and turnover are high.
  • Chaos reigns after experienced employees depart or go out on leave.
  • Profitability is falling.
  • Sales leads are not being followed up upon quickly.
  • Corporate governance has been lacking.
  • You are struggling with your cash flow.
  • Your inventory levels are rising.
  • You can’t fill customer orders quickly enough.

BPR (Business Process Reengineering) Steps IllustrationWhat Are the Business Process Reengineering Steps?

1. Figure out what you want

What is it that you expect to see after the execution of a specific business workflow? Once you understand how you want your business outcomes to work, you can start figuring out why it isn’t happening. For example, if you’re looking to get deliveries to customers within a specific timeframe, look at ways to speed up getting items out of the warehouses and into a delivery truck.

2. Define the current state

Go through the steps involved in completing a work process. Look at places where logjams might occur that bring down efficiency and add to costs.

3. Identify gaps

Set up key performance indicators (KPIs) that give you an idea of how close or far away you are from achieving your business goals. Look at cycle time, the production process, or how long it takes to get trucks loaded at the warehouse.

4. Select a test case

Look for an essential process that impacts your organization’s effectiveness. Then, come up with a future state that helps you achieve your company’s strategic objectives.

5. Develop and test your hypothesis

Come up with new workflow and procedures, then communicate to the relevant stakeholders. Create test scenarios for any new or enhanced functions within your revamped process.

6. Implement the new process

Make sure you have the dependencies and resources in place to successfully roll out your changes.

7. Evaluate performance

Track the performance of the new process and use your KPIs to assess the impacts in comparison to the original business workflow.

Your goal should be about coming up with clear strategic improvements to your work processes versus trying to go about business as usual in a shiny new package. It’s about coming up with new ideas, like changing how you engage with customers at every point in the sales process.


BPR and Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement (CI) is an ongoing effort to improve a product, service, or process. The American Society for Quality (ASQ) holds that CI efforts can include incremental improvement, where improvement occurs gradually over time, as well as breakthrough improvement, where the improvement happens all at once. CI often requires an organization to first undergo a cultural change before it can have any real chance of success.

Business process reengineering is often part of CI efforts, as teams look for ways to improve business processes as part of the overall CI scope. BPR is also closely tied to Business Process Management (BPM), and it makes sense to have a healthy understanding of both disciplines. For a complete overview of BPM, you can read our Introduction to Business Process Management.

So Is BPR the Same as BPM?

No. While BPM focuses on defining and automating existing processes, BPR completely re-imagines the way that businesses operate, especially as they relate to the customer experience. There are also much higher stakes with BPR because the roles and processes that exist today can be shelved entirely.

BPM Geek has a nice explanation of the differences here.

process roi ebookProcess Re-Engineering Examples


BPR Resources


Interested in Reengineering and Automating Your Processes?

We have a variety of resources to help you on your journey to an automated workflow. 

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