Design Thinking Led Business Process Re-imagination


The digital world presents immense opportunities for businesses today. And digital re-imagination is all about creating something completely new using digital technologies such as SMAC (Social Media, Mobility, Big Data and Analytics, and Computing), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML). Empowered with digital, companies can successfully undergo business process re-engineering to create an edge over their competition and establish themselves as leaders in their respective industries.

Despite the innovation that digital promises, several enterprises are challenged to unravel its true potential – and for reasons that are not related to technology. An effective and scalable solution for a complex company environment is adopting a human-centred approach that focuses on external and internal customer journeys that cut through organizational silos. And the approach should be supported by reimagined process operations.

Read on to understand what is BPR exactly is, how design thinking enables change in a digital enterprise, explore the key steps involved in business process re-imagination and its benefits.

What is business process re-imagination?


Business process re-imagination or re-engineering involves gaining complete visibility into your company’s business processes. Then you leverage technology and consulting services to automate, monitor, and continually improve business processes.

Business process re-imagination is defined as the radical design of core business processes to attain improved revenue, elevated customer service, optimized costs, higher employee retention, and faster processing time. In BPR, companies usually begin with a clean slate and rethink existing processes to deliver more value to the customer while cutting down enterprise costs and process redundancies at a very large scale. It involves a new value system that lays more stress on customer needs.

Firms reduce organizational layers and eliminate unproductive activities in two main areas:

  1. They redesign functional enterprises into cross-functional teams
  2. Leverage technology to enable data dissemination as well as decision making

Design thinking as a change catalyst for a digital enterprise


You can use Design Thinking as a human-centred approach to innovation as it integrates customer emotion and empathy, the potential of digital tech and analytics, and the need for business success. Design thinking crystalizes CX (customer experiences) into an executable prototype and enables cross-functional experiments that ultimately create – end to end, across the organization, processes that serve a specific business outcome.

Design Thinking initiates deep insight into the human side of the people involved in the flow of work to create a superior customer experience and facilitate rapid iteration of ideas. That’s made possible via a holistic approach that harnesses disruptive digital technologies and analytics and uses lean as human-centred Design Thinking principles to identify practical solutions that can be effectively implemented.

This method helps develop creative solutions that are often less complex to integrate with existing legacy operations, easier to adopt for the impacted individuals and can be implemented with ease. These are essential in a world where digital transformation will need a continual change for many business functions and a fundamental openness to the advanced disruptive technologies. 

To successfully deploy Design Thinking efforts in end-to-end operation you must have the staff that possesses both Design Thinking skills and a deep understanding of business processes and operations. 

Collaboration with external partners to complement your capacity and capabilities can help increase your chances of digital transformation success. Design Thinking can empower organizations to deliver elevated customer experience while driving growth and agility.

Key Steps to Re-imagine business processes

Business Process Re-engineering can vary from business-as-usual, where enterprises are simply seeking leaner processes, to strategic improvements that require a complete process overhaul. Depending upon the objective and scope of automation, there are numerous steps in BPR.

Here are the key steps in business process re-imagination that can help transform your enterprise:

1. Defining the need for change

The efforts you make for re-engineering business processes must clearly state the need for change. You should begin with the analysis phase and ask the basic questions about your organization and how it operates such as:

  • Why do we do what we are doing?
  • Why do we do it in a certain way?
  • What do we want to attain?
  • What will BPR change in our enterprise?

These fundamental questions will help you relook at the basic assumptions and the unspoken rules on which your business runs. It will also enable you to identify the core business processes, company requirements, and workflows. So, defining the need for change is the most critical decision point for re-engineering.

2. Setting up the case management team

To make business process engineering successful, you first have to communicate its need and get the right people with the right skills to work on it. Make a person or a specific group of people responsible for re-engineering. According to Hammer following major roles are required to participate in the business operations re-imagination:

  • A leader who motivates and authorises the BPR
  • Process owner who’s responsible for a specific process and the re-imagination effort focused on it
  • Re-engineering team including employees dedicated to re-engineer a particular process, who diagnoses the existing process and oversees its achievement and redesign
  • Re-engineering committee that includes the senior management who develop the company’s re-engineering strategy and monitor its progress
  • Re-engineering advisor responsible to develop reengineering tools and techniques within the organization and achieve collaboration across different departments

However, you may not have to define all the aforementioned roles – you can simply combine them, adjust or create your own. However, it’s essential to have a person or group of skilled resources who oversee the Business Process Re-engineering.

It will help to avoid complexity, long acceptance waiting periods, and avoiding mistakes in the meantime.

3. Selecting the process to reengineer

As all processes are not suitable for BPR, so once you’ve decided that it’s time for a change it’s better to identify what exactly must be changed. To select the right processes, you must first understand what the process is exactly trying to accomplish. Use process mining tools and data analysis to get better visibility into the overall processes, identify gaps, handoff issues, roadblocks, etc.

The other tools you can use to identify gaps, remove inefficiencies and improve process overall processes are Six Sigma and Lean principles.

4. Mapping the process to match best practices and setting objectives

Now that you know what you want to work on and the goal you want to achieve, it’s time to take action – begin rebuilding the chosen processes from the scratch. At times complex processes result in chaotic workflows that make the business activities highly complex. That’s where mapping can enable you to craft a clear structure for processes.

Another important point to focus on are the KPIs (key performance indicators) against which you’ll measure performance and implement changes. The KPIs make it possible for you to capture all the critical data.

Harrington rightly pointed “If you cannot measure an activity, you cannot improve it.” Also, it will be easier to set realistic goals, set priorities, and agree on needs and output specifications.

5. Re-engineering management

This is the time for the execution of all the ideas of the design. Re-engineering processes is just like change management where you create a plan, adopt changes and leverage the solution to improve.

Do remember that processes exist because of people and are about people. That’s why it’s imperative to assist employees in their work.

How can you do that?

Dedicated software can help eliminate the unnecessary chain of activities and people that participate in the process and bureaucracy. These tools can act as your database and let you automate processes in just a few clicks.

6. Continuous process monitoring and audit

BPR is a never-ending cycle, just like most business process management approaches. Instead of treating it as a checklist of events that can be marked as “done” and forgotten, process design must be monitored constantly to spot errors and bottlenecks and adapted as per the data outcomes.

You must audit your business process re-imagination efforts to ensure compliance. KPIs should be updated according to the changing market dynamics, alterations in your business model, and other factors. Also, don’t miss out on feedback both positive as well as negative as it can help support your business process re-engineering.

What are the benefits of business process re-engineering?


Business process re-imagination has numerous benefits. Companies use BPR to:

  • Move towards the digital operating model
  • Deploy business process automation technology and applications
  • Enhance customer experience as it improves the turnaround time of the processes. Plus, Reengineering enables to fine-tune other connected processes which can serve as an input or output to the process being automated
  • Optimize costs and cycle times by eliminating any unproductive activities/employees who perform them. Team reorganization reduces the requirement of management layers, fast tracks information flows, and removes the errors or rework caused by multiple handoffs
  • Drives data intelligence by gaining an insight into the existing business processes through advanced analytics that can be further used for decision making
  • Improve quality by reducing fragmentation of work and establishing clear process ownership. Workers get responsibility for their output and can measure their performance based on prompt feedback.

Wrap up

Core business processes have operated in traditional silos for years. Despite the potential to integrate information spread across functions, operating models struggled to attain a unified digital vision. With the recent emphasis on digital transformation as a means to gain an edge over the competition and the pervasiveness of AI, IoT, ML has forced many firms across industries to radically rethink their workflows and make technology-driven changes.

BPR takes a critical look at core processes to identify areas that require improvement. Leveraging design thinking principles BPR strategists can embed emerging digital technologies and intelligent workflows to improve the business holistically.

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