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The 10 commandments of business process reengineering

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Some golden rules for reengineering

Observing these rules will ensure business process reengineering that achieves significant improvements in quality, speed, and service.

  1. Create a process map so that it can be visually interrogated.  The drawing is not the goal, the information it reveals is the goal.  Find out who is ultimately accountable for the success or failure of the process.
  2. Interview the individuals that perform the tasks in the process.  Their managers only think they know what happens every day.
  3. Ask “Why?” someone does what they do.  Say thank you and ask again.  Challenge the explanation “we’ve always done it that way” by asking “why?”
  4. Note the inputs and outputs to the process.  Look for problems that occur because insufficient or inaccurate information is provided.  Include dependencies outside of the process.
  5. Find out the number of people involved in the processWhat does each group do, how many people do they do it for, and how often do others approve their work?
  6. Identify where the 80/20 rule applies.  It always applies.  Do you spend 80% of your time on 20% of your customers?  Do you get 80% of your revenue from 20% of your accounts?  Are 80% of your credits less than 20% of the original order?
  7. Pay no attention to statements that begin with “always” or “never.”  Record the frequency as well as the elapsed execution times.  Where are the bottlenecks?
  8. Remember that no one voluntarily retires a process.  Labor-intensive activities are often repeated to prevent an error that occurred one time, 15 years ago.
  9. Look for rework and redundant tasks where hand-offs occur.  Pay particular attention between departments or between different reporting structures where there is a lack of trust.
  10. Staple yourself to a document type – physical or electronic.  Find an invoice, order, policy, application, or refund and follow it through the process to understand who, how, how often, and when it is touched.

Designed by Clerestory for the Executive MBA program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

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