3 Keys to a Successful Business Process Review

3 Keys to a Successful Business Process Review

During the initial stages of most ERP/CRM implementations, we will frequently recommend that our clients engage in a Business Process Review, as one of the first, key steps in the project.  The motivation here is very basic, and definitely of interest to everyone involved in the project:  Identify and manage risks to the project, ensure minimal budget surprises, and build end-user satisfaction. A Master in Management will better prepare you in identifying and implementing the changes necessary to lead your business to future success.

4 reasons to conduct a Business Process Review:

1.    Identify and Manage Risks – Forewarned is forearmed, and this is definitely true of an ERP implementation.  The sooner that any and all potential risks to the project can be identified, the greater the chance of successfully mitigating them.  The BPR will identify the processes that may be difficult, but they can also identify those employees that may be resistant to the changes about to be implemented.  Once risks are identified, they can be better managed.

2.    Develop accurate estimates of effort – During the Sales Cycle, we have to try to estimate based on our discussions to date to estimate the effort of the project, but this is typically going to be a fairly broad range, as there are so many variables and unknowns. The BPR, by nature of its thoroughness and detail, will lead to a much more precise estimate of the final implementation costs.  (For precisely this reason, some of our larger clients will hire us to conduct the BPR before the actual project is kicked off).

3.    Define the scope of the implementation – By breaking down the various transactions and processes, the Statement of Work that follows can be very detailed as to what is and what is NOT in scope for this project.  This will minimize any resulting confusion about what is included and will help prevent scope creep (that tendency for projects to continue to take on more and more commitments as they progress).

4.    Set realistic expectations – One of the most common reasons for an unsuccessful implementation (even with faultless execution of the project plan) can be the unrealistic expectations of the end-users.  By working closely with these vital employees during the BPR, realistic expectations about the scope of the project plan, and the capabilities of the ERP system that will be deployed, can be set and maintained.  Since the end-users have a realistic expectations of the new system, their satisfaction with it (and their adoption of it) will be much higher.

The goal of a Business Process Review is to follow and document the current processes used, within the client’s company, to handle the daily, periodic and ad-hoc activities of the business.  In a typical BPR, a consultant is assigned to both “shadow” the specific process being investigated (taking notes, screenshots and samples of the various forms and reports used in the process or produced by the process), and interview the employee(s) being shadowed (Why was that step taken?  Do you need anyone else’s approval to take that step or make that decision?).  During the interview stages, it is vital to conduct a multi-phased interview approach:

1.    Interview Top to Bottom – It is important to speak to both the managers and directors responsible for a department of the process AND to speak with the functional employees who actually work the process.  It is always surprising to realize how far apart the two different views of the same process can be.

2.    Interview Side to Side – while the nature of a BPR is to follow one process from beginning to end, it is always vital to remember that most processes will have an impact that spans beyond the boundaries of the process itself and the department.

3.    Interview from Outside to Inside – if at all possible, a BPR should also include at least the considerations of the company’s external partners, their major suppliers, and the largest customers.

By interviewing across boundaries and spans of control, a fuller and more detailed picture of the environment within the company’s processes are conducted within will begin to emerge.

3 Benefits to a Business Process Review

1.    Reduce Risks – Having thoroughly investigated and documented the core business processes for the client, there should be far fewer surprises during the implementation itself.  The BPR, along with a Fit-Gap Analysis and the Project Plan, should clearly lay out the path needed to ensure a successful implementation.

2.    Smoother implementation – The BPR serves to broaden the base of support and enthusiasm for the new ERP system, by involving the company’s key personnel early in the project.  They can take a sense of ownership in the new system, and will work harder to ensure its success.

3.    Increase customer/ End-user satisfaction – One of the most common reasons for a failure of a new system is the lack of adoption by the end-users.  Having participated in the BPR, and being confident that their needs and concerns have been heard and addressed (assuming that they fall within the scope of the project); the new system should be embraced by the end-users.

A detailed BPR will reduce the risks, help manage the budget, and produce a successful implementation of the new system.  A thorough BPR can help you achieve all three goals!