Business process reengineering aims to change the way work is done in order to achieve organizational goals such as reducing costs and improving customer and employee satisfaction. Reengineering is the most advanced and holistic form of process improvement. Whereas most process improvement is incremental and focused on tweaking sub-processes, process reengineering is transformational. It involves completely changing the entire process to achieve an entirely different result.
If process re-engineering sounds a little foreign or even extreme, let me offer a tangible example: digital transformation. Across industries and around the world, almost every organization is currently engaged in an effort to integrate new technologies to better serve its customers and employees. But as many companies have learned the hard way, digital transformation isn’t just about buying tech and turning it on. Going digital often requires radical adjustments to how people work—and that means re-engineering processes. And let’s not forget that a major focus of digital transformation is automation. When you automate a process that used to be manual, you often need to re-engineer it so that it makes sense to a computer.
So, how do you actually do process re-engineering? Given the wide variety of processes and end goals, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some organizations use journey maps to explore how customers and/or employees experience the current-state process and identify (and then, reduce) the biggest pain points. Others use process frameworks to benchmark against peers and competitors to identify the biggest areas for improvement. Some organizations use process simulation tools to create “digital twins” that allow them to safely explore potential process adjustments and improvements. And of course, many organizations use time-tested process improvement methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma as well as the multiple permutations and techniques of these approaches like DMAIC, SIPOCs, the five whys, axiomatic design, pareto charts, value stream mapping, and root cause analysis, to name a few.
You can learn about these approaches through APQC’s Resource Library or elsewhere online. Fortunately, a lot of this stuff does not require special tools or technology, so you can get started without a big investment. However, there are two places where we see folks trip up:
- figuring out how and where to apply improvements, and
- following through to turn improvement ideas into business realities.
Some people pick the wrong processes, resulting in “improvements” that don’t generate results or—worse yet—backfire in other areas of the business. Others choose wisely and craft amazing improvement ideas, but because they can’t get others on board, their improvements never come to fruition.
That’s why we created a new online course on Process Improvement. This self-paced course is designed to help even complete beginners learn how to successfully re-engineer and improve processes. You’ll learn how to identify and assess improvements, pick the right approaches, manage the change with employees, and integrate improvement initiatives across the organization. Get started today!