NO MATTER HOW HARD INDIVIDUALS WORK, THEY CANNOT OVERCOME A FLAWED PROCESS DESIGN, MUCH LESS THE BURDEN OF NO DESIGN AT ALL.
PEOPLE WHO ARE ALIGNED AROUND A COMMON GOAL BUT LACK THE DISCIPLINE OF A WELL DESIGNED PROCESS WILL GO NOWHERE......LIKEWISE THE BEST DESIGNED PROCESS HAS NO CHANCE OF SURVIVAL WHEN PEOPLE ARE NOT ALIGNED AROUND THE PROCESS AND ITS GOALS.
- MICHEAL HAMMER
Not many have heard about Michael Hammer ...somewhere in 1995 along with James Champy authored a book "Re-engineering the Corporation" and thereafter has written a couple of books alone on the same subject. I happened to go through some of them myself and there was a brief period around this time when the buzz word across organisations revolved around Re-engineering. Some understood it....others thought they understood it..many mis-understood it....while many made use of it as a jargon to pull on in related projects.
Michael Hammer deserves credit for upfront trying to combat certain earlier held ethos though these earlier ethos are not totally out of place it needed some refurbishing and enhancement and to that end Re-engineering has contributed in some measure..some kind of an awakening to managerial principles and beliefs which may not be totally applicable but yet relevant.
With industrialization as a result of the steam engine various formulations of organizational management has been experimented with culminating in flow-manufacturing using division of labor. Various types of processes have evolved leading to complex manufacturing and service situations as seen today. Business organizations develop various vestigial and non-value adding activities along the way which possibly needed eradication or streamlining. Re-engineering has been largely mis-understood as a methodology that can be instantly applied across the board but is something that must be considered as a remedy in organizational dead-locks or impasse or an impending impasse.
Even in Bangalore I have seen many organizations embark upon Re-engineering. I used to know Mr. Gersappa at L & T Bangalore who had some implementation experience in this field..Mr. Lalith Kumar Raichur GM of Ingersollrand ; Mr. Shetty of VXL Instruments; Howard Martindale of Krone Communications to mention few names and organizations.
What is Re-engineering? It is a fundamental re-design of Business processes with an end result of obtaining quantum benefits in process performance. Two things differentiate Re-engineering from any other process study..A fundamental re-design ...and quantum benefits.... Re-engineering always need not use technology but technology finds itself very often as an enabler. Larger the organization larger will be the complexity and the need to re-define and streamline. For example we are living in a re-engineered world that came all by itself as a result of technological revolution. In not so distant past it would take five hours to contact some-one on demand through an express telegram which is less than 30 seconds today through the mobile..technology induced re-engineering one might say and the world at large is yet to get a grip of things. Any process is a set of activities treated as one.
Any organization will have up-stream , steam and down-stream activities.Upstream activities are logistics that bring raw material into manufacturing..stream is the manufacturing and down-stream is the activity of forward logistics that take finished goods to the customer. Today many of these activities work in real time which means that they operate with least uncertainty and on-demand tracking.
Mr. Ganesh Natarajan and M S Jayaraman were two Indian pioneers of these times talking vividly on this topic to large corporate audiences also writing books on these areas. A good gesture and venture for the corporate establishments at large.
How should an organization re-engineer itself. First of all the question is Should it ? A well run organization and managed one may not find the need for Re-engineering as it re-invents itself in an on-going way. When organizations lose track then it might need re-engineering. The converse of re-engineering according to me is Engineering which realigns processes or organizational orientations. I must hasten to add that there are sister procedures to Re-engineering in the form of Re-structuring and Re-organization and these two methods concern Organizational structure and People respectively. These two methods are often used unlike Re-engineering that concerns business processes and hence it is called BPR (Business Process Re-engineering).
When an organization intends to Re-engineer itself it might have one or many of the following problems;
1. Diminishing Customers as a result of market forces
2. Increased Operating costs
3. Overburdened work force
4. High levels of Organizational conflicts
5. Overruns in costs and cycle times of delivery and processing
Many of the above problems can be corrected without a Re-engineering exercise but a composite of these problems lasting for a considerable time might demand Re-engineering.
How can a company Re-engineer itself or conduct a BPR Business Process Re-engineering. Note that any Re-engineering exercise would need atleast a year.
Firstly identify the various customer related processes and the activities they comprise of. Upfront remove activities that have become redundant or no-value adding.
Secondly identify any new activities that must be added to the processes.
Thirdly every process must start with the customer and end at its logical starting points and also identify the bridges that connect and inter-connect the processes.
Identify the processes that can be re-engineered and leave other processes untouched.
Re-engineer the processes and thereafter synchronize the other processes to the Re-engineered processes.
Study and maintain the system with minimum after-shocks. Note that Re-engineering is largely a System exercise and rarely a people exercise