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 a range of different business initiatives.

In this post, I endeavour to demonstrate how Singh’s BRM can assist you in the planning of the Business process improvement initiative. I think the key benefit is that it helps you to paint a big picture of the 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-

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

Determine scope of project

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

  1. What are the business problems for which project is going to find solutions? Refer here for help.
  2. What are project boundaries?
    • Identify 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.
  3. What is the success criteria?
  4. What are the business objectives for executing this project?
  5. Determine client expectations for project delivery (Time, Cost, Quality)

Determine (Tier 1) Vision, Values and Mission

It is essential to understand the higher motives. The solutions that project team propose must support the overall vision and mission of enterprise. Project team should consider answering following questions:

  1. What does enterprise stands for?
  2. What are the top priorities?
  3. What is the mission of the enterprise?
  4. How do we want to see the enterprise in the short and long term?

Identify critical stakeholders

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

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

Determine (Tier 2) Business Strategy and Tactics

We should not look at the Business processes in silos. Therefore, in the context of project scope, the project team should understand business strategy.

For example, a business may have a strategy to acquire established companies. They may want to operate them as separate entities. However, they may decide to share standard services across acquired businesses (e.g. IT-support, HR systems).

Project team should have a clear understanding of strategy. Process improvement project must support strategy. The project team should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. Is project directly responsible for implementing business strategy?
  2. Or, the project is supporting business strategy?
  3. Or, project is part of a short-term business tactic?

Determine (Tier 3) Business Model, Policy, Partnerships and Organisational structure

Project team should have a good understanding of the overall structure of the enterprise. It will help the team to develop solutions in consideration of the whole enterprise. The project team should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. How business structure hang together about Business model?
  2. Who are the suppliers and partners and their role in the overall scheme of things?
  3. What are the reporting structures? How is the organisation spread-out geographically?

Determine (Tier 4) Business capabilities and Value chains

In the context of project scope project team should be able to identify:

  1. List of capabilities of enterprise and their interrelationship
  2. Different value chains and their interrelationships

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

Determine (Tier 5) Business processes and Resources

In the context of project scope, team should document:

  1. Existing business processes (As-Is processes)
  2. Identify inefficiencies in existing processes

Note that the project team should consider possible discrepancies in business processes followed by different groups (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 the employees follow procedures within the business. Further, how various departments interact and collaborate. Project team should aim to understand the working culture and behavioural aspects of the company.

Understand external influencers (e.g. Regulator, Market forces)

Following questions should be considered:

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

Determine Leadership support

Project team should consider the following questions:

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

Determine Governance support

Project team should understand:

  1. Existing governance structures
  2. How are new processes maintained after project implementation?
  3. How should the handover of project deliverables process work?

Determine Enterprise Architecture (EA) support

Project team should understand:

  1. What is the existing EA capability?
  2. Role of EA in project delivery?

Document future state business processes (To-be processes)

At this step, the project team have a strong understanding of the entire enterprise. There must be an alignment between the new processes and all tiers determined in previous actions.  Project team should consider:

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

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

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


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