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Indiana Wesleyan University Support Knowledge Base

What is BPR?


Business Process Redesign (BPR) is a facilitated discovery methodology that identifies both strengths and weaknesses of existing business processes and identifies changes that can improve productivity, quality, customer service, and reduce costs. It should be followed by a formal project that has been sponsored and prioritized by executive management.

Why use BPR at IWU?

  • Continued rising cost of operations
  • Need to do more with less
  • Desire to be proactive instead of reactive

What are the benefits of BPR?

When you think about it, designing a better business process has numerous intrinsic benefits:

  • Improved process performance and quality
  • Reduces cost by maintaining or improving efficiency.
  • Improves collaboration and data sharing among offices involved in the same task(s).
  • Ensures processes are keeping up with current industry standards and technology.
  • Gives newer employees a unique opportunity to understand and improve their task(s).
  • Participant ownership of BPR results.

When should I use BPR?

  • BPR is for every size project from large to small.
  • BPR should always precede a formal project. It is for coming up with a good redesign, not implementing it.
  • BPR can be helpful to any department.  Some examples:

    Student Services
    Student Billing
    Conference & Events
    Student Employment
    Classroom Scheduling
    Facilities Management
    Campus Space Planning

    Integrated Marketing
    Student Registration
    Student Teaching
    Student Transfers
    Student Accounts Receivable
    Class Scheduling
    Minimum Wage Impact
    PC Replacement Planning

Where has BPR been helpful?

Dow Chemical

Dow chemical customized SAP (an ERP system) to work with their business processes for 7 months then scrapped it all because it just wasn't working. They finally put 100 people in a room for a year and made them work on understanding how the product was meant to be used out of the box.  Then they adapted their business processes to the way the product was designed instead of creating lots of unsupported customizations.  The idea is that the product designers are the experts--they know what they're doing!  Built-in processes will be supported & updated as the market/environment/law changes.

IT Procurement

An IT procurement system was developed to be the best system possible, that could then be shared with 3 different institutions.

See Example BPR result.

Registrar's Office

At another institution a Registrar's Office discovered during BPR that their workers had three different methods for doing the same task, and each person thought their way was the only way.

What are the Pitfalls of BPR?

The concept of Business Process Redesign has been around for a while, but it can fail and there are pitfalls to watch out for.

  1. The primary focus of BPR should be on improving methods, not eliminating staff.  Early on it was known as Business Process Reengineering, and "Many companies used reengineering as an pretext to downsize their companies dramatically, though this was not the intent of reengineering's proponents; consequently, reengineering earned a reputation for being synonymous with downsizing and layoffs."  --Excerpted from Wikipedia
  2. BPR Can easily fail without buy-in from Executive Management or when middle management fails to lead the charge.
  3. The Facilitator may be tempted to push a certain direction or cut off a seemingly over-long discussion, especially if s/he is has prior knowledge of the process being redesigned.  These impulses will reduce the effectiveness of BPR.  Because of this, the facilitator should never be a SME if possible.
  4. Up-front time is hard to obtain.  Participants who do not fully commit their undivided attention to the work session will seriously delay the process or even cause BPR to fail because critical knowledge is not contributed.  A temptation in meetings is to read/write email or surf the web.  This cannot happen during the BPR session.
  5. BPR can fail when the team stops the methodology after the end of the Gap Analysis / Recommendations.
  6. A newly minted business process that comes as a result of BPR tends to be abandoned if the Process Owner does not continue to monitor the associated metrics of the process (continuous improvement).

Next Steps

Review the Role of the Institution (for larger Business Processes)

Understand Who Initiates BPR

Review BPR Requirements.

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