A common question faced by me during my practice as a Business Process Management Expert is- What is the difference between Business Process Improvement and Business Process Re-engineering? I will answer this question (in FAQ 1), but this and many such common queries drove me towards writing this article.
So, let us begin with the first FAQ …
FAQ 1: What is the difference between Business Process Improvement (BPI) and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)?
Business Process Improvement (BPI) and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) are two widely used terms while attempting to modify business processes in order for organizations to sustain and grow.
As the name implies, both BPI and BPR deal with business process modification, however, they are two widely different terms. Allow me to ask few questions to explain these terms:
- Is your process broken?
- Does it have a high impact on your company’s strategic direction?
- Is it antiquated?
- Does it fall far below ‘best-in-class’ or desired ‘state-of-the-art’?
If your answer to the above questions is ‘Yes’, then its BPR, meaning- those said processes have to be re-engineered or re-designed.
BPR technique assumes that the current process is irrelevant, does not work and therefore needs overhauling completely from A to Zee.
For all those business processes that do not need re-engineering, but essentially need modification for benefiting the business, it is BPI - business process improvement.
Now let’s take second FAQ on business process improvement …
FAQ 2: What are the different types of business process improvement / business process re-engineering campaigns?
Breakthrough improvement is a methodology that incorporates vital improvements to the main areas of the business. It is a quicker and more intense method of improvement. It is common for breakthrough improvements to be conducted by a few employees whose purpose is to come up with a new method of problem-solving. It is common for long-lasting and continuous problems to be solved through breakthrough improvement technique by dedicating time and effort into coming up with a solution for a designated time.
Streamlined improvement refers to the improvement of a process by reducing and shortening the number of steps in a process in order to lower its intricacy. It is beneficial since it helps cut back on costs, uses time more effectively and efficiently, as well as improves supervisory observance.
Continuous improvement focuses on undergoing small improvements that take place over a time. These increments allow for less disruption to the organization and allow individuals to perform necessary tasks on the agenda in steady and continual stages. Many organizations find that, performing small continual improvements has a profound effect in the long run.
Continuous improvement does not have a huge effect on the organization, though the effects of the improvement tend to stick longer. Many organizations find that performing small, continual improvements has a profound effect in the long run.
Breakthrough improvement has large and obvious advances, but the results can also be extremely varied.
Out of the three types of business process improvement, continuous improvement is often preferred, since the small changes end up adding more value than that of a breakthrough improvement.
Another possibility is for organizations to perform a series of breakthrough improvements that allow individuals, to progressively make continual improvements in their everyday work life. Organizations that choose to implement this method often reach more desirable results than those that choose either continuous or breakthrough improvement.
My recommendation is that organizations invest time in continuous-breakthrough improvements in order to truly excel. Continuous as well as breakthrough improvement can have a better chance of working properly if-
- Both data and facts are used.
- Employees are involved and encouraged to find solutions.
- Methods are established and implemented.
Both breakthrough and continuous improvement methods use PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) sequence.
Organizations can benefit from using both continuous and breakthrough improvement methods. The use of either improvement method depends on the circumstances and the desired outcome. One does need to wisely choose when and how to apply each of these improvement methodologies to their business.
In the upcoming parts of this article, I shall discuss more FAQs concerning effective & efficient business process improvement.
By the way, if you run a company that is facing a challenge to thrive in these difficult times, I would suggest that you please revisit your business processes in order to accelerate growth and bring a quick turnaround.
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