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How To Boost Efficiency With Business Process Reengineering

change managers and project managers work together on bsuiness proecess engineering

Businesses must consistently improve and innovate to improve efficiency, align with strategic goals, and stay competitive. But sometimes, incremental changes to processes and structures don't work and companies require an overhaul.

Business process reengineering (BPR) implements new processes or systems in an organization to improve performance and achieve desired outcomes.

In this guide, we’ll explain how BPR works, its benefits, and how to execute it to achieve the best results. We’ll also touch on why change management is necessary for the success of BPR initiatives and how it supports them.

Get expert support with BPR changes when you partner with Prosci Advisory Services. 

What Is Business Process Reengineering?

Business process reengineering (BPR) is a management strategy that completely overhauls one or more core business processes to improve critical performance metrics like cost, quality, service and speed.

Organizations are adopting BPR practices for many reasons, including:

  • Improving performance to match increasing competition
  • Growing complexity of current processes
  • Delivering value to customers via personalized services
  • Implementing digital transformation caused by technological advancements, like AI and cloud-based solutions
  • Reducing costs
  • Enhancing resource usage

BPR isn't new. It has been a necessity for successful organizations for decades. For example, Ford Motor Company reengineered its accounts payable process in the 1990s. It installed a new process that streamlined accounting operations and increased accuracy in the workplace.

Adopting BPR involves analyzing key processes that affect company performance, redesigning them to improve quality and efficiency, and implementing new processes.

The success of BPR projects heavily depends on strong leadership and clear communication. Senior management and primary sponsors must understand the technical and behavioral aspects of the change. This helps them give credibility to the new system and adequately fulfill their roles.

Because BPR fundamentally alters how organizations operate—impacting processes, job roles, workflows and structure—change management is vital for implementation.

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The Benefits of Business Process Reengineering

Here are nine key benefits of business process reengineering:

  • Cost reduction – Streamlining core business processes eliminates unnecessary steps, reduces redundancy, and optimizes resource utilization. These factors help companies significantly lower their operational costs.
  • Technology optimization – BPR often involves integrating new technologies to improve processes. This digital transformation enhances investments in technology, so organizations use solutions that enhance processes and better serve the business strategy.
  • Increased efficiency – By simplifying workflows and removing bottlenecks, processes become faster and more responsive. This leads to shorter production times and increased output, allowing organizations to serve customers quickly and effectively.
  • Reduced errors – BPR helps identify and remove errors and inconsistencies. This results in the production of higher-quality goods and services, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Flexibility and scalability – BPR creates flexible business processes that quickly adapt to meet market demands or incorporate new technologies. This is vital in the modern business environment.
  • Boost customer satisfaction – By redesigning processes from a customer-centric viewpoint, BPR can ensure that the output meets or exceeds customer expectations. Improved quality and faster service contribute to higher customer satisfaction levels. T-Mobile's implementation of the Team of Experts (TEX) Model for customer service is an excellent example of this benefit.
  • Gain a competitive advantage – Better product quality, reduced costs, and improved customer service can give organizations a competitive edge. This advantage is crucial in fiercely competitive industries, where continuous improvement is necessary.
  • Greater employee satisfaction – Business process improvement can improve employee satisfaction by eliminating tedious, non-value-added tasks. This frees employees to focus on more important and rewarding aspects of their jobs, leading to improved morale and productivity.
  • Improved decision-making – A radical redesign often reveals valuable data and insights to improve decision-making. Companies can make informed decisions to achieve strategic objectives by reengineering processes and analyzing relevant data.

Business Process Reengineering vs. Business Process Management

Business process reengineering (BPR) is often confused with business process management (BPM). Both methodologies improve operational efficiency but follow a different approach.

Here's a comparison of the two methods across four critical areas, so your organization can pick the right one for your needs.

Business Process Reengineering vs. Business Process Management 

business process reengineering vs business process management

Business process reengineering

Business process reengineering (BPR) completely transforms organizational processes for dramatic improvement over a short period.

  • Approach and focus – BPR is project-based. It involves radical, large-scale changes and reimagining entire processes to greatly improve performance metrics rather than making incremental changes to existing methods.
  • Implementation – BPR initiatives require strong leadership, a clear vision, and substantial resources to support significant changes to current operations, structure and culture.
  • Approach to technology – In BPR, technology plays a vital, transformative role, enabling new working methods.
  • Risk – BPR projects are higher in risk due to the scale of change but potentially higher rewards.

Business process management

Business process management (BPM) is an ongoing management practice that continuously evaluates and improves business functions.

  • Approach and focus – BPM requires continuous, incremental improvements rather than starting from scratch and improves existing processes through analysis, modeling, optimization and automation.
  • Implementation – In BPM, tools are created and processes established to monitor and analyze performance continuously. Iterative changes result from data analysis.
  • Approach to technology – Technology supports improving processes rather than acting as a key driver of change.
  • Risk – BPM involves lower risk than business process redesign, with benefits happening gradually over time.

Organizations that need drastic change in a short period opt for BPR, while those that want to improve continuously over time find BPM more suitable. Depending on evolving needs, organizations can use both methodologies in different areas or at different times.

Whether the changes are small and continuous, like in BPM, or a complete overhaul, like in BPR, effective change management is vital to help leaders, employees and stakeholders navigate any transition.

The Steps of Business Process Reengineering

Here's an overview of the general steps involved in the redesign of business processes:

  • Initiation – A BPR team is created in the initiation stage. This team defines clear objectives and a framework that aligns with the overall business strategy. Then, the team secures executive support to back the project and provide resources.
  • Understand current processes – The BPR team identifies processes critical to performance, customer satisfaction and business outcomes. They document and analyze the current workflow—including inputs, tasks, outputs and interactions—to identify redundancies and unnecessary steps that cause delays or frustrate customers.
  • Design new process models – The BPR team rethinks how to complete the work without worrying about current limitations. They question the basic assumptions about how the entire process works. After ideation, they create new process designs that are streamlined and customer focused, and utilize technology.
  • Build a business case – BPR teams evaluate the costs of redesigning the processes against the expected benefits, including cost reductions and efficiency gains, to build a business case. They also perform risk assessments to identify challenges and develop strategies to mitigate them.
  • Implement the new processes – The team outlines a detailed plan to implement the new processes, including timelines, required resources, roles and responsibilities. At this stage, they also develop a change management strategy to manage the transition.
  • Evaluate results and iterate – After implementing this process, the team evaluates the BPR’s results against the predefined objectives, analyzing operational efficiency, cost savings, and customer satisfaction levels. Based on this evaluation, they identify any improvements and iterate on the process redesign.

How Change Management Streamlines Business Process Reengineering

Change management is integral to BPR because it addresses the human and organizational transformation aspects. It ensures that the technical and operational changes meet with corresponding transformations in the organizational culture, mindset and behaviors.

Here’s how:

1. Facilitating understanding and buy-in

Change management enables buy-in and commitment from leadership and employees at all levels. It helps communicate the vision, goals and benefits of the BPR initiative, helping everyone understand why change is necessary and what it entails.

Active, visible and supportive sponsors of change:

  • Lead and motivate others in the organization
  • Make effective decisions
  • Communicate directly to stakeholders for the project management and change management teams
  • Influence employees and other leaders

Prosci research has shown that projects with extremely effective sponsors were 79% likely to meet their objectives, compared to just 27% with extremely ineffective sponsors.

Correlation of Sponsor Effectiveness With Meeting Objectives

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2. Preparing the organization for change

Change management involves preparing the organization for upcoming changes by assessing readiness and addressing potential resistance before it becomes problematic.

For instance, the Prosci 3-Phase Process can be used by BPR teams to deploy a change strategy that is customized, detailed and scalable. The process has three key phases:

  • In Phase 1 – Prepare Approach, change management and project management teams collaborate to develop a change strategy. They define what they are trying to achieve, how it impacts individuals, and what steps they need to take to achieve desired outcomes.
  • In Phase 2 – Manage Change, they decide how to prepare and equip people during the BPR change, track performance, and adjust their strategy to increase adoption.

Prosci 3-Phase Process

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  • In Phase 3 – Sustain Outcomes, teams establish a plan to ensure change is adopted in all parts of the organization and is sustained for the long term. They review performance and focus on implementing actions to sustain change outcomes.

By creating a detailed strategy using change frameworks, BPR teams can prepare effectively and engage key stakeholders and champions who can advocate for the change.

3. Developing competencies and skills

BPR often introduces new technologies and processes that require new skills. Change management supports the change process for BPR by delivering knowledge on what to do during the transition and how to perform in the new system.

For example, in the Prosci ADKAR® Model, there’s a major focus on bridging the gap between knowledge and ability through training, education, practice and coaching.


The Prosci ADKAR Model

The Prosci ADKAR Model

Once employees understand the new skills required, BPR teams can organize training and development programs, provide access to tools, and implement feedback. These steps ensure employees are well-equipped to handle their new roles and responsibilities, increasing the likelihood of success.

4. Managing the transition

Change management provides a structured approach for dismantling current business processes and introducing new ones during BPR initiatives. While project management encompasses the technical side of this transition, change management covers the people side.

Applying an approach like the Prosci Methodology allows BPR teams to support individuals through change. They can create a strategy to execute the transition in phases, minimize disruptions to ongoing operations, and ensure continuity of service.

By effectively managing the human side of change, organizations can enhance the adoption and sustainment of BPR initiatives.

5. Minimizing resistance

Resistance to change is natural during BPR projects as employees and stakeholders worry about disruptions, job security, and the company's new direction. Our research has identified that mid-level managers are the most resistant to change.

Most Resistant Groups

Blog-Images-Most Reistance Groups

Change management strategies can minimize resistance by involving employees in the change process, providing clear and consistent communication, and offering support. By addressing concerns and collecting feedback, BPR teams can remove barriers to adopting the reengineered processes and build a positive perception of the change.

6. Enhancing communication

Effective communication ensures all employees know why the change is happening and how it will impact their everyday work and the organization.

Building Awareness ensures all employees and stakeholders understand their role in the transition and are informed about developments that affect them, including the progress of the BPR initiative.

Continued over time, clear communication and transparency helps to build trust and maintain morale during major BPR changes.

7. Supporting the cultural shift

BPR projects can require a change in organizational culture to support new working methods.

Change management supports this cultural transformation by identifying desired behaviors and values and embedding them through leadership actions, communication and reinforcement mechanisms.

After implementation, change strategies also help embed the changes into the organization's fabric to ensure sustainability. 

This includes establishing metrics and feedback loops to monitor the effectiveness of the new processes and making adjustments to maintain alignment with organizational goals.

8. Aligning organizational structure and roles

With BPR, organizational structures and roles may need realigning to support new processes.

Change management aids in this realignment, ensuring that the organizational structure supports the optimized processes. It also helps clearly define and communicate new roles and responsibilities.

Prosci Supports Business Process Reengineering Efforts

Business process reengineering initiatives are complex, large-scale projects that demand massive change across work processes, structure and culture. Organizations can struggle to implement BPR projects because they require significant expertise and resources to manage widespread change. When your organization manages the people side of change effectively, you ensure the adoption, effectiveness, and longevity of these critical initiatives. 

Quentin Orsmond

Quentin Orsmond

Quentin Orsmond is a change management consultant and Prosci Executive Instructor with two decades of experience driving transformation. He started his change management career in the global financial services industry, where he drove major operational and cultural change initiatives. Known for his hands-on approach, he has played an instrumental role in setting up a Change Management function and successfully implementing the Prosci Methodology for clients. Quentin's additional expertise in business analysis, project management, operations management and R&D adds depth to his work, making him a valuable coach and facilitator for clients.

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