(Re)organizing and BPR

In early 1990s I started my first process redesign activities, to support the introduction of methodologies; eventually, it became organizational development.

Recently, an old acquaintance asked some references on BPR (Business Process Reengineering )and related issues.

The most comprehensive source was a CD prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense, as part of the “Reinventing government” (see here for a summary report) initiative coordinated by then Vice President Al Gore.

Unfortunately, the CD and its over 5000 documents are now offline.

Pity, because at the time now only I was able to register with the DoD and receive both its first edition and update, but included also a software that I still use once in a while, TurboBPR to carry out cost/benefit and restructuring analysis on processes (unfortunately, it works only under old versions of Windows 2000).

If you are involved into software- or technology-oriented activities, I suggest having a look at the matching magazine “CrossTalk” (still available online), as it is useful to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

As an introduction on BPR, a 1997 document produced by the GAO (General Accounting Office) in US that was contained in the original CD is still available online.

My old, but still favourite introductory book is Business Process Reengineering: Breakpoint Strategies for Market Dominance, by Johansson, McHugh, Pendlebury, Wheeler.

Published in 1993, the main concepts and framework could still be a useful introduction. Moreover, while it cost some 50 EUR in 1993, the best price on Amazon is abour 3 EUR (used copy, of course).

More down to earth, and for a zero budget, have a look at the material that I published few years ago (currently being updated) in BusinessFitnessMagazine.Com.

The concept was to help streamline processes and activities, while avoiding the typical “extreme outsourcing” or “consulting ’till budget will take us apart”.

Generally, my view is that consultants should stay on while you need skills or expertise that it would be impractical to build and maintain in house.

Otherwise, they should be called only when needed, work on a project or “task oriented” basis- and leave; the latter, implies probably long-term contracts, but highly focused, not for operational activities that could be done in house.

Moreover, my approach to consulting is to leave behind enough knowledge (also as computer-based training or other educational material) to let the customer manage day-by-day whatever is left behind from the consulting activities, e.g. not just the final document or software, but also the reason why a certain choice was made.

BPR is one of the activities where probably consultants should be useful- but as facilitators, to help who has the company-specific expertise to extract the knowledge required to understand what has to be kept (albeit modified), and what can be outsourced or simply removed.

Of course, other considerations could be more relevant to your case, e.g. consulting is an expenditure, while hiring somebody for an activity that you do know if and when will end would generate a fixed cost and create a nightmare for the HR department (where should the person be located?).

Moreover, consultants could be free to roam across the company, if provided with the right mandate, while employees in most companies are constrained by organizational boundaries.

I plan to update the material that I already published online and to write few new articles- let me know if there are subject that you would be interested to see discussed here as a summary, in articles on PartnershipIncubator.Com, or as a full issue length (20-40 pages) on BusinessFitnessMagazine.Com

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