How to plan Business Process Improvement project

In one of my previous posts, I have introduced Singh’s Business Reference Model (BRM). I suggested that Singh’s BRM can assist in range of different business initiatives.

In this post, I endeavour to demonstrate how Singh’s BRM can assist you in planning of Business process improvement initiative. I think, the key benefit is that it helps you to paint big picture of enterprise. Further, it assists in breaking silos and align business initiatives with strategy.

Business leaders, Business/Management consultants, Information Systems professionals may find this post useful.

Singh's Business Reference Model-
Singh’s Business Reference Model

Referring to Singh’s BR model, I suggest undertaking following planning activities for Business Process Improvement project:

Determine scope of project – Refer to existing Business Case of the project to answer following questions. If there is no Business case or it is not detailed enough, then undertake some analysis work to answer following questions:

  • What are the business problems for which project is going to find solutions? Refer here for help.
  • What are project boundaries?
    • At a high level, which teams, organisational units, value chains, business processes, capabilities are in project scope.
    • Business process improvement is a broad term. Clarify, if process automation, software implementations and  business process outsourcing are also in project scope.
  • What is the success criteria?
  • What are the business objectives for executing this project?
  • Determine client expectations for project delivery (Time, Cost, Quality)

Determine (Tier 1) Vision, Values and Mission – It is important because new processes and solutions that project team propose must support overall vision and mission of enterprise. Project team should consider answering following questions:

  • What does enterprise stands for?
  • What are the top priorities?
  • What is the mission of enterprise?
  • How enterprise wants to be seen in short and long term?

Identify key stakeholders – For big and complex enterprises, project team should consider undertaking Stakeholder analysis. At the minimum, project team should be able to answer following questions:

  • Who is the project sponsor?
  • Determine list of key stakeholders and their role in project.
  • If possible, complete RACI or similar matrix.

Determine (Tier 2) Business Strategy and Tactics – Business processes should not be looked in silos. Therefore, in context of project scope, project team should understand business strategy.

For example, business may have strategy to acquire established businesses. They may want to operate them as separate entities. However, they may decide to share common services across acquired businesses (like IT support, HR systems etc.).

Project team should have clear understanding of strategy. At the end of day, process improvement project must support strategy. Project team should be able to answer following questions:

  • Is project directly responsible to implement business strategy?
  • Or, project is supporting business strategy?
  • Or, project is part of short-term business tactic?

Determine (Tier 3) Business Model, Policy, Partnerships and Organisational structure – Project team should have good understanding of overall structure of enterprise. It will help team to develop solutions in consideration of overall enterprise. Project team should be able to answer following questions:

  • How business structure hang together in reference to Business model?
  • Who are the suppliers and partners and their role in overall scheme of things?
  • What are the reporting structures? How organisation is spread-out geographically?

Determine (Tier 4) Business capabilities and Value chains – In context of project scope project team should be able to identify:

  • List of capabilities of enterprise and their interrelationship
  • Different value chains and their interrelationships

This information will help project team to document current and future business processes.

Determine (Tier 5) Business processes and Resources – In context of project scope, team should document:

  • Existing business processes (As-Is processes)
  • Identify inefficiencies in existing processes

Note that project team should consider possible discrepancies in business processes followed by different teams (at separate physical locations). Further, some project teams may decide to do not document existing processes. That is fine as well.

Determine (Tier 6) Procedures, Behaviour and Culture – Project team should observe how procedures are followed for business processes. Further, how teams interact and collaborate with each other. Project team should aim to understand working culture and behavioural aspects of company.

Understand external influencers (Regulator, Market forces etc.) – Following questions should be considered:

  • What are the most influential external forces? For example, project outcome must comply with certain regulations.
  • What are the threats and opportunities posed by external factors?

Determine Leadership support – Project team should consider following questions:

  • Do you have enough support from leadership team to take tough decisions?
  • Is there a sense of urgency from Leadership team?
  • What is the political landscape?
  • Are leaders committed to develop and maintain momentum?

Determine Governance support – Project team should understand:

  • Existing governance structures
  • How new processes are maintain after project implementation?
  • How the handover of project deliverables process should work?

Determine Enterprise Architecture (EA) support – Project team should understand:

  • What is the existing EA capability?
  • Role of EA in project delivery?

Document future state business processes (To-be processes) – At this step, project team have very clear understanding about entire enterprise. There must be alignment between the new processes and all tiers determined in previous steps.  Project team should consider:

  • Undertake SWOT analysis (taking all the components of business under consideration).
  • New and refined processes (To-be) must comply needs of all the components of reference model

Further, above information will help project team to formulate change management and implementation strategy for project.

I hope you find this information helpful. Please share your experiences and suggest how we can improve!

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