Suggestions for success in human-centric process reengineering projects, by applying best practices in knowledge intensive environments.
A lot of effort has been carried out in last years to re engineer processes in order to automate all or parts of them. A great number of companies have changed their processes as a result of introduction of new software systems, aimed to streamline management of back and front office. Companies have even taken care of processes crossing company boundaries in order to optimize communications with clients, providers and partners. A characteristic of this interest is that is has been driven by technology.
In last years we have seen introduction of ERP and CRM systems, Content and Document Management systems, Workflow Automation Applications, etc... that have (or hopefully will) help companies achieve a more efficient use of their resources. It seemed that CIOs believed that an impressive IT portfolio would directly result in better processes.
However less interest has been directed at human side of process optimization. A lot of money is spent on paying a team from a world class consultancy firm, best of breed software products licenses, etc... and it is usual that importance of deploying new processes effectively is underestimated. Designing and documenting enhanced processes does not create value for company. It is only when these new processes are carried out in real world that value is created.
If we use popular metaphor that compares a business with an orchestra, you can have best musicians (employees) playing best instruments (software systems) with music scores (processes) in order. Value appears when they start playing together in a coordinated manner.
The objective of most Business Process Reengineering (BPR) projects is to increase quality of products and services produced, to lower costs, to reduce development time, to increase client satisfaction, etc... At bottom line what you need to achieve is that people work in a new and more efficient way.
The success of a BPR effort, specially when process are carried out by people, is therefore highly dependent on people's understanding of following concepts:
"Who does what, how, when and where"
Who. The person in charge of each task in process must be clear. It must be clear who is accountable for each activity.
What. The characteristics that output of activity must conform to. The value it adds to process object.