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Thoughts on Business Process Design

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Thoughts on Business process design

Business Process Design (BPD) in its truest form should always take a top down approach to ensure it's efforts are in full alignment with the core vision for the corporation, it's core values, it's overall desired business model and the core purpose and tasks that the corporation needs to perform well to deliver the products, services and value to its customers that help it to be successful and profitable. True, often targeted BPD efforts take place deep within a corporation where only small subsets of it are being re-architected, but knowledge of the above visions, values and models should never be lost sight of even in a targeted effort.

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Following are several guiding "Principles" or "Best Practices" that have given me practical guidelines to use with clients when undertaking process re-engineering projects. A couple are mine and a few are from others such as Mike Hammer in his 1994 book "Re-Engineering the Corporation". Keeping people cognizant of these Principles throughout a BPD/BPR effort can help keep your process design workshops with a client on track. Just point to these principles when you see a person with a "personal stakes or agenda" trying to take you off on a tangent due to personal interests. It helps bring them back into alignment.

1. We will develop new processes in alignment with the Business Vision and the core tasks of the corporation rather than trying to fix existing processes.

2. Business Process Design will be done in partnership with business, application, and technology personnel to ensure the best possible results.

3. We will not place constraints on the definition of the problem nor the scope of the re-engineering effort. The focus will be on complete process streams, not organizational departments.

4. We will not allow existing corporate cultures and management attitudes to interfere with finding the best possible solutions for the organization as a whole.

5. A professional with the required skillset will lead each process design effort.

6. We will not pull back when we encounter resistance and will not settle for just marginal improvements in processes.

7. We will remember that the "Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one". (Borrowed from a Star Trek Movie - but I loved it's applicability to BPR!)

As you facilitate, there are a few concepts to keep in mind as you work your way through these workshop sessions:

· Avoid getting too detailed too quickly. Work at a high level initially and then gradually drill down into greater levels of detail.

· Follow the 80/20 rule. Concentrate on the processes and applications that affect 80% of the people first and only tackle the other 20% if there is time.

· Define a gap as "Anything the vanilla software doesn't do". If the process can't change, add it to the gap list and move on to the next process or functionality requirement. Don't get bogged down trying to solve the gap.

· Don't get stuck on the idea of "But that's how we do it now". Be open minded to new approaches.

High level often found process categories resident within a corporation could include the following.

1. Strategic Business Processes: These processes deliver value to the organization in terms of using history and other management information to make key strategic decisions. Four core business process types often include the following:

· Leadership Processes

· Strategic Planning

· People and Process Effectiveness

· Manage Alliance Partners and Stakeholders

2. Core Tasks: These are the direct tasks or processes that deliver value to customers and stakeholders. Common core tasks might include:

· Design Products

· Develop Products

· Market Products

· Sell Products

· Assemble Products - Integrated Supply Chain + Factory Activities

· Transport Products - Logistics

· Service and Support Products

3. Support Processes: These processes provide indirect support, yet are no less important, to the delivery of core value to customers and stakeholders and could include the following:

· Financial Stewardship

· Human Resources

· Environment & Safety

· Contracts Management

· Public Relations and Communications

· Facilities Engineering

· Maintenance

· Legal & Insurance

· Records Management


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In general, all processes having direct contact with the customer and/or forming part of the value creation chain for the customer can be viewed as being external processes. As these activities are the main interface with the customer, they should be developed and guided to ensure the maximum level of empowerment to enable staff to get as close to the customer as possible to fulfill the customer requirement on first contact. This assumes that employees are supported by the appropriate level of automation and training within a solid framework of policies to allow transactions and interactions to be handled within an adequately controlled environment.

The processes that create value for the organization by enabling control, planning, management, etc. may be seen as being internal processes. These are less geographically dependent on customer location and can be located wherever makes logical sense.

For those initiating efforts to improve the way their organization does business, I hope these few principles and guidelines will help you to be more successful.

By Dan Grijzenhout - January 27, 2017

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