You might not have known you needed a business process redesign until preparing to submit to an investor for funding or until you’re trying to optimize your business to gain a competitive advantage.
That’s because business process design is often neglected until that very moment when you need it.
The challenge with this is- it can take years (sometimes even up to four years) to redesign a business process, especially if you’re going about it the wrong way.
The better idea is to maintain your process design all along. But, if you do have to design a new business process, there are steps to follow and tools to use.
In this article, we’ll lay out the scenario of a redesign of the Amazon business process, and factors that will help you achieve success for your own redesign.
Why is there are a need for business process redesign?
Nearly everything in your business revolves around accounting/ finance of your operations. A business process design naturally accounts for things like ROI and cost and profit margins.
It takes into account manufacturing, sales, customer service, and every other department in your organization. It’s intrinsically part of any big financial decision, such as requesting additional funding (especially for startups).
But, because this process is inherently large and there’s rarely anyone dedicated to keeping it updated, it’s almost always outdated when you need it.
Process redesign is clearly necessary for funding, but there are other reasons to optimize your process as well.
Redesign, or reengineering, can reduce your operational costs and cycle times, increase productivity by reducing ineffective employees, processes, and tasks. You may even find ways to automate certain tasks that increases productivity even further.
Other benefits include:
- Reduces complexity in your organization
- mproves quality of service
- Decreases layers of management oversight
- Accelerates information flows
- Eliminates errors in your process design
To get a better picture of this, let’s build a scenario using Amazon as ourut spotlighted company.
Scenario: Amazon Book Sales
Believe it or not, Amazon sells millions of books. They even make it exceptionally easy for authors to self-publish their books and get on bestseller lists.
But let’s say… A customer orders three books on Amazon with their Prime account. Days later, the books arrive but there are only two instead of the three they ordered.
The buyer makes contact with customer service, but the issue couldn’t be resolved, and now the customer is still short of a book, is unhappy, and may likely look elsewhere for their next book purchase.
Amazon loses that customer, and many like them.
Clearly, there’s some kind of inefficiency in the ordering process, but it extends beyond that, into customer service. If this is a frequent occurrence, a redesign of this department alone may be in order.
Now, clearly this is not related to finding additional financing (which is often the push for companies to do a redesign), but the optimization of the department is nonetheless beneficial to the bottom line for Amazon.
Amazon redesign: essential BPR steps
If Amazon were to redesign their customer service department after multiple instances inefficiencies like the one described above, they’d have an easier time with the following considerations and business process redesign steps:
- Review of their operation, mission, and vision
- Review key objectives of the department
- Review customer base and reassess their needs
- Assessment of how the department already meets those needs and what gaps exist in customer service
- Set up clear and sound customer service goals for the areas identified for changes.
- Implement the changes, and do it fast, because that’s where the competitive edge lies.
In this Amazon scenario, it might look like this:
Amazon adds an extra 50 customer service agents to the department. These employees are specifically tasked with receiving complaints from customers and channeling them to the relevant departments, or answering questions and resolving issues themselves.
Maybe they enhanced back up records about customer interactions, and added extra feedback mechanisms. For additional transparency and accountability, they added tracking numbers to the orders.
How to engineer business process management successfully
There is no real set number of stages or steps in business process redesign. It depends entirely on how well you’ve maintained your core business process, how many departments you have, and how many need to be redesigned.
There also isn’t necessarily a metric for success with organizational reengineering either. You could redesign business processes across all departments in your organization and still not be as optimized as you could or should be.
To get around that, and to have as much success with this process as possible, you need the following:
In the BPR example above, the IT department would have to assist in redeveloping the customer service department, adding in those tracking codes and feedback mechanisms.
Organizational oversight/ management and accounting would have to ensure all the resources needed are available, as well as the funding for these advancements.
Without organizational cooperation, and the breakdown of some of those silos, you don’t have efficient reengineering management.
Rewards help an organization uphold value contributions from the involved departments, but it also helps to ensure that the changes made truly stick. Change can be hard for departments, but adding incentives for that change often make employees more receptive to it.
Cut out the red tape
One of the biggest hurdles for an organization that needs changes, is that there’s often too much red tape… too many regulations, papers, and managers to pass through. This actually may be one of the things you’re trying to change with your redesign.
In the case of Amazon, the redesign of customer service was speedy because it was less bureaucratic. Resources were allocated quickly, and changes were signed off on just as fast.
Project experts, or business process redesign consultants, often come from business management firms with the sole responsibility of leading the charge in organizational redesign.
They’re the plan masters, and using them can come with a hefty price. But it’s often worth it. Most organizations have trouble stepping beyond their walls and spotting the inefficiencies in their overall business process, and it’s rare that an organization has anyone to dedicate to process modeling with a full commitment.
The right resources
Any redesign process requires an abundance of resources, whether its financial, human, or thinks like BPR tools or software. But it’s has to be more than just… an availability of resources.
Those BPR resources have to be utilized with operational efficiency. One of the best ways to ensure all of the right resources are available is to create a resource and information repository, accessible to everyone within the organization.
Constraints to business process redesign
Change in business is rarely seamless, especially when it comes to reengineering processes. Here are some of the most common constraints or issues companies run into during redesign:
- Heterogeneity of a process team- too many experts across too many departments, making integration and harmony challenging.
- Vague methodology- when the finance department carries out constraint identification, they’re often a little half-baked. The finance department doesn’t have the skills or expertise to understand all of the processes within the customer service department, and may not be able to spot all of the bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
- Employee commitment- if training isn’t in place, or employees aren’t ready to adapt to the changes, it’s going to be a hard road to efficiency and better ROI.
- Too much focus on short term gains- if your aim is only to improve capital gains, you may not be making long term adjustments that better the experience for customers or employees. This may lead to some short lived gains.
Key takeaways for any company ready to start their business process redesign
If you’re ready to start reengineering your core business process, then you’ll need management commitment, employee empowerment, and proper communication for success with process optimization.
The changes you make have to be carried out by your employees, so ensure that they’re well equipped to do so.
Extensive research and identifying inefficiencies may not be easy within the confines of the organization. You may need a process redesign consultant or company to come in and spot the bottlenecks and make recommendations to streamline processes.