Business Process Re-Engineering and the Quality Improvement

Introduction

This paper is on business process re-engineering and the emphasis on the total quality management methods. The aims and the principles of reengineering will be touched upon as well as resistance to such organizational changes. Furthermore, there will be special mention of certain terminologies like Six Sigma, Balanced Scorecard and Enterprise resource planning.

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In the changing landscape of the contemporary business, there has been a greater emphasis being laid on finding one’s competitive edge on the part of the businesses around the world. This has prompted them to be increasingly vigilant of the current changing dynamics of customer demands. Also the emergence of new foreign players in the scene entails for the companies to be reducing costs and at the same time be maintaining quality. (Chiragi, Whitman, Muthu, 1999).

Business Process Reengineering

This is why the term business process reengineering is a recent phenomenon. It involves radically changing business processes and procedures to better able to align oneself for the long term benefits. Such consequences of radicalizing the processes would mean low cost per outputs, increased delivery speed and increased process quality translating into better performance of the company as a whole.

Aim of Business Process Reengineering

Business process reengineers maintain that those elements of the processes that do not add value to the final product should be abandoned or done away with rather than automating them and just reducing the time for the process that does not add value.

The organization should chart down its process maps just as they do in making their organizational charts of hierarchy. Such a map would explain how and to which process does a work reach in its cycle. The eventual aim of any business process reengineering involves satisfying the end customer in the best manner. This reengineering involves manifold improvements and not just slight improvements. So the concept is not a one time solution but a continuous and an ongoing process of learning and adapting to the future customer dynamics. (Chiragi, Whitman, Muthu, 1999).

The reengineering if done properly in an organization should not only transforms processes, but also ensure that every element of the businesses processes are assimilated and are in sync. That is the structure, the workplace contents, the information technology in use and the culture of the organization should be in consonance with the new business processes. (Schumacher).

Business Process Reengineering Model

Before going on to state the model, one important factor to be considered in reengineering is that businesses have to choose which process they are going to reengineer as it is seemingly impossible to reengineer more than one process. Once this is achieved, then comes the part of deciding how to go about in reengineering the process. For example E-Ticketing in the airline industry has phased out manual ticketing. This radical automation has meant that airlines have a competitive edge against others as it has reduced the time per transaction.

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As this issue involves strategic planning, it is handled by the top management. The top management delineates the strategy to the lower levels of the hierarchy. They are the ones who have a strategic vision for the achievement of the organizational goals. So the model states that the first thing that an organization has to do is to pen down the scope and objectives of its reengineering project. This means what the organization wants to achieve by way of reengineering its processes and whether such a reengineering is really necessary. Once the question of its necessity is answered then a cross-functional team needs to be put in place who will consist of representatives from the various departments. They may be from IT, Manufacturing, Marketing, Finance, Administration or any other department. Rationale behind such a move is the spillover effects of any change in a process on the functioning departments of the company. Now care must be ensured that the departments function in the absence of these people and not be hijacked. The company’s procedures have to be in function and not be dependent on those individuals who are now in the cross-functional teams.

The next step would be to take their minds back to the original process in place and analyze its shortcomings and try to rectify those with the new process to be brought in its place. Also important to be done at this stage is to identify the value-added processes that increase the performance of the company. This will provide a platform from which to make a better process next time. Such an activity is primarily to identify the flaws or disconnect in the process to be able to build upon such findings in the new process. But there are the critics of such a maneuver as well. They are of the opinions that if the business processes have to be reengineered, then why there is a need to look back on what has already happened or what mistakes are already committed in the first go. So according to them it would just defeat the purpose of the whole exercise of drastically changing the metrics of the processes.

The next step would be to envision the new and improved process in the organization. At this stage an important factor to be considered is of the benchmarking. This happens when the company compares or sets standards against the other leading companies in the industry to achieve by way of the reengineering. After that in the implementation stage of the reengineering would be the challenge of resistance. Here the change management skills of the top management will be tested as this is a make or break for many organizations as even the best reengineering concepts may not reach fruition if this front is not taken care of. In the implementation stage there will be training imparted of the new process in place to the employees who will be a part of the changed processes. After that there should be a review as to how the reengineering fared in the whole exercise. (Chiragi, Whitman, Muthu, 1999).

The Role of Information Technology

The role of information technology as a facilitator has been recognized as one enabling firms to collaborate within the organization as well as outside the organization with the outside world. In this scenario, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has picked up momentum in the last decade or so with its major functionality of synchronizing the whole of the business processes as it automates the information, resources and all other business related activities. It allows all the departments to retrieve any sort of information regarding the company and facilitates information flow in an efficient manner. (King, 2005).

Total Quality Management

The method entails improving business processes performance at each and every stage. It imbibes in the employees and motivates them to improve performance at every step of the production cycle. This also involves reducing wastages that unnecessarily affect business operations and also states that mistakes can be avoided. The theory believes in continuous improvement at each and every step of the organization; from strategic planning to actual making of the product. (Hashmi).

Balanced Score Card

This balanced scorecard method is a management system that helps the organizations to put its vision and strategy into action. It works from four perspectives; financial, business process, customer and learning and growth.

Six-Sigma

Six-Sigma is a tool that helps companies to strive for near perfection. It employs a methodology that analyzes the number of defective goods churned out by the company’s manufacturing process. The importance of this methodology is its focus on process improvement whereby there is less variation in the product quality. So it harps on the importance of incremental improvement that can be done if defects and wastages are avoided.

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BPR and ERP

The similarities between ERP and Business process reengineering are that they both have the same objective of improving the business’ performance and hence the bottom line profits. ERP automates the business processes while business process reengineering overhauls the entire business processes. ERP helps in putting in place a proper information flow which improves the coordination in the company which in turn improves efficiency as decisions are taken in less time.

BPR and TQM

Business process reengineering aims at complete and drastic changes in the business processes. While the total quality management aims at continuous improvements at each and every stage of the business cycle. But both these have the same objectives of increasing business efficiency and profits by decreasing costs and reducing inefficiencies of the processes. The two may complement each other if any reengineering is happening in an organization. TQM management may be incorporated in the whole BPR process where there will be a stress on even the smallest of improvements with regards to the processes.

Reference

Hashmi, K. Introduction and Implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM). 2008. Web.

King. W., Ensuring ERP implementation success, Information Systems Management, 2005.

Mayer, R.J & Paula.S. (1998). Delivering Results: Evolving BPR from Art to Engineering.

Muthu, S, Cheragi, H & Whitman, L. (1999). Business Process Reengineering: A Consolidated Methodology. 

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