Technology has brought about incredible changes to the world in a relatively short amount of time. We’re living in a world where all it takes is a quick Google search of “software for [insert issue here]” to be instantly presented with pages of solutions promising to solve your most pressing business problems. More often than not, these are user-friendly, cloud-based SaaS solutions that can be deployed almost immediately. While there are advantages to this best-in-class type of ecosystem, it can easily (and quickly) lead to a tangled web of siloed systems, convoluted strategies, and manual, duplicative processes.

Though it can add time and effort, a BPR is a crucial step in avoiding technological turmoil when bringing new software into the mix. Here’s what you need to know about BPRs including what they are, how to decide if one is needed, conducting one on your own, and other helpful tips.

What is a BPR?

BPR is an abbreviation for business process review (or, more often, reengineering—we’ll get to our stance on that later). Simply put, BPRs are exercises designed to help businesses identify areas of improvement in an effort to become more agile, efficient, and streamlined.

Do I need a BPR?

While every company could benefit from conducting a BPR, it’s likely only worth the time and effort if you have a specific problem you’re trying to solve or goal you are trying to achieve and—this next part is important—are ready and willing to make changes.

BPRs come in especially handy prior to implementing new ERP software. In fact, they are the first step in any NetSuite implementation we do here at 360. Having been a value-added NetSuite reseller for nearly two decades, one of the first and most common inquiries we receive is about the price of the software. While we understand that many decisions are driven by budget, the answer depends on many factors including edition, number of users, add-ons, support, etc. We could easily quote you a price, sell you the software, and help get you up and running only to hear in a few months’ time that you are not seeing the expected ROI or that your processes have not improved.

That’s why a BPR is critical; it helps to align processes, define goals, and thoughtfully plan and build solutions that help businesses achieve true growth.

If that sounds a little jargony, think of it like this: If you built a house without footings, a solid foundation, and a well-thought-out floor plan, you probably won’t be living in that house very long. If it hasn’t completely crumbled, you might find yourself walking through a pantry to get to the bathroom which connects to the garage. That doesn’t sound very efficient, does it?

Well, the same idea holds true with software. Without a holistic understanding of how software should be used in your specific business—and why—you will never fully leverage its capabilities and therefore, never realize the true ROI.

What is a BPR?

How to conduct a BPR

If you’ve determined that your business could benefit from a BPR, you might be wondering how to get started. Before we dive into the how, it’s important to know that while it is possible to do this in-house using only internal staff, an ideal BPR team will have a mix of internal and external stakeholders to effectively balance the intangibles, e.g. knowledge, bias, and subject matter expertise.

End-users are so ingrained in the day-to-day details of their job, it’s difficult to see how their role and responsibilities play into the overall business strategy. An unbiased partner is able to see the bigger picture and how each department is intertwined. Having a handle on your own internal processes is important, but combining that with external solutioning know-how is where the magic happens. 

Here are some high-level steps to get you started conducting a business process review for your organization.

 

How to Conduct a BPR | 360 Cloud Solutions
#1: Determine the goal

What is the driving force behind this BPR? Have you happened upon a bottleneck? What process are you trying to fix? As with any problem, knowing the ‘why’ will better equip you to develop a true solution instead of a temporary band-aid.

How to Conduct a BPR | 360 Cloud Solutions
#2: Assemble a team

As touched on earlier, the BPR project team is one of the most important aspects of the exercise. The team should be cross-functional and consist of managers as well as individual contributors to get the most holistic view of the issue(s) at hand and avoid tunnel vision. If you can, try to include at least one external resource that can bring new ideas or perspectives to the table for consideration.

How to Conduct a BPR | 360 Cloud Solutions
#3: Identify and document

Here’s where the BPR takes flight. First, walk through your existing process(es), typically referred to as “as-is,” and document how they are done. Include who’s involved, steps taken, bottlenecks or hand-offs, and talk with end-users if further clarification is needed. Keep in mind the Five Ws (who, what, where, when, why).

Take heed; it is not unusual to discover that one thing leads to another which, in turn, leads to many more. Keep going until you’ve exhausted the complete processes under review.

How to Conduct a BPR | 360 Cloud Solutions
#4: Determine the “to be”

Now that you’ve documented your “as-is” processes, the next step is determining your ideal process flow—or, the “to be.”

Earlier, we hinted at discussing the difference between business process reengineering and a business process review. They share the same acronym and, to some, are interchangeable. And while they generally take on the same meaning, we have a slightly different perspective.

At 360, our business process reviews are just that. A deep dive into business processes resulting in a non-committal, technology-agnostic blueprint that will help you make the right decision for the future of your business. Think of it as a diagnosis and prognosis; identification of the problems and a plan for how it can be improved.

How to Conduct a BPR | 360 Cloud Solutions
#5: Business process reengineering

Reengineering is where the “to be” plan comes to life. At this step, it’s wise to consider some of the realistic aspects of this plan including budget, resources, time, and measurable goals. If you are going to go through the effort of redesigning the way your business is run, you need to document specific KPIs that will help you determine if it is helping or hurting.

Psst… determining the “to-be” and reengineering is where unbiased, third-party expertise comes in really handy!

How to Conduct a BPR | 360 Cloud Solutions
#5: Consider technology last

You might notice that in all of those steps, not once did we discuss the actual technology or software that will enable you to achieve your goals.

One common misstep when it comes to BPRs or reengineering exercises is letting technology drive your processes. Rather than molding your processes to fit a specific solution, your unique needs and requirements should be at the forefront during the selection and implementation of any software.

Pulling it all together

Software implementations have a bad rap of going wrong, but that can easily be avoided with some old fashioned preparation. BPRs, when done correctly, are a very valuable tool to help businesses streamline processes, avoid bottlenecks, and, ultimately, better leverage technological investments.

Not ready for a full-blown BPR? Download a free self-assessment tool to help you get started.