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Successful Reengineering Strategies

For the past several years, Business Reengineering has been a major phenomenon in business. Recent studies indicate as many as 70% of North American companies and 80% of financial institutions in the U.S. are doing some Reengineering. Reengineering is the fundamental redesign of business processes (and their supporting organizations, jobs, controls, and beliefs) to achieve dramatic improvements in performance and customer value. People are Reengineering because the world is changing, customers are demanding more, and competition is more intense than ever. If your organization is Reengineering, there are some keys to success which you should keep in mind.

There Must Be a Business Mandate

Reengineering does not occur in a vacuum. Figure out why you are undertaking radical change and clearly articulate your case for action. This will be the linchpin of your education and mobilization campaign. It is a critical first step.

There Must Be an Executive Leader

Reengineering must be driven top down. A senior executive in your operation needs to mandate change. Recruit a sponsor, stop the project, or prepare to fail.

Set your Reengineering Objectives Clear and High

The two most important words in Reengineering are “Reengineering objectives”. Goals must be aggressive, clear, and well-articulated. How must the business process be improved? Stick to your dream; maintain the vision throughout the project.

Get Organized

A Reengineering team should involve people at all levels from the process being reinvented. Get your best cross-functional resources. Also include a few outsiders from other parts of the organization who can challenge conventional thinking. For facilitation and leadership in what path to follow, use a Sherpa, someone who knows how to Reengineer and can be a guide, like the legendary mountain guides of Nepal from whence the name comes.

Get Out of the Box

Dramatic improvements in business performance occur when today's business rules are challenged and broken, responsibilities are broadened and controls are modified. Use enabling technologies. Study others, especially outside your industry, for models you can use in redesigning your business processes.

Work the Entire Business System

Your Reengineering project must redesign more than business processes. For new processes to produce greater value for customers, the rest of the business system must be changed as well. Reengineering design does start with the business process. Look at the results from the customer point of view and cut out non value-added steps. To perform the new process, you will need to modify the jobs, skill sets & organization structure, usually in the direction of greater empowerment and less functional specialization. Management and measurement systems must reward behaviors that produce valued results for customers. These systems and controls should focus on the critical performance dimensions of the new process - results, not unnecessary micro-management.

Most Reengineering projects use some Enabling Technology which is new to the organization. Perhaps it is laptop computers for the sales force or voice mail for the secretaries. Look for ways that available technology could speed up your process, bring people together, or improve quality.

Cultural impediments are the most difficult roadblocks to overcome in Reengineering. A company's values, beliefs, & behaviors will need to be modified. This is why executive sponsorship is so critical. Education, reinforcing the case for action, and new incentives to promote new behaviors are all important tools to help modify the culture.

Iterative Design

Reengineering is messy. It doesn't proceed in a straight line like many projects we are used to such as the facilities or systems projects. Design will inevitably be experimental. Be prepared for revisions, use extensive prototyping, and pilot before full rollout.

Implementation Is Everything

The real work starts during implementation. Breakthrough designs are nice, but that is the polite part of the project. If the fellows on the loading dock don't buy it, you haven't improved business operations and results for customers. Prepare to involve people, over-communicate, and learn from the field. Designs need to be modified even during implementation. For final detailed designs that really work, successful companies spawn many implementation teams with local workers.

Change Management

All along the way, thirty percent of your effort must go into change management. You must dedicate project time and management attention to bring your stakeholders along the journey with you. Overcome their resistance and build buy-in by dialogue, education, reinforcement, involvement, leadership and public championing.

Reengineering initiatives are challenging but exciting opportunities for companies to remake themselves in ways that truly benefit customers and can bring job enrichment for many employees. Follow the path to success by using these key success strategies in your Reengineering project.

Hoskins Davis is a Raleigh-based management consultancy which helps organizations improve business performance, build competitiveness, and manage strategic change.