Business Process Optimization (BPO) is the discipline of systematically analyzing transactions within an end-to-end business cycle to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Processes within and across organizational boundaries are viewed with the intent of identifying any/all possible means of reducing inefficiencies, removing bottlenecks and optimizing process flow. It is important that each and every point in the process chain be viewed with an eye towards improvement and streamlining.
BPO enables companies to align all of their business functions around the customer’s needs or end product. It further enables management to eliminate processes that don’t add value, as well as enhance productivity and throughput. Cost reduction, improved performance, efficient use of resources and increased visibility should be among the goals of every business.
- Assess current life-cycle of processes:
Prior to embarking on process improvements, it is critical that the current process life-cycle be analyzed and understood. The objectives of Business Process Optimization need to be clearly stated and understood by all interested parties. Once the goals are effectively set, it’s time to start taking an assessment of the current business units and the product flow. This initial analysis is essential to set the framework for improvement recommendations.
The BPO team should identify the time, costs, departments and individuals that contribute to each function of the process while making detailed documentation of each of the standard operating procedures along the way. The individual breakdown of all the components should then be gathered into a comprehensive summary of the process life-cycle as a hole, with a summation of time, costs and resources. Following a time and motion study methodology to document the current state together with the Pareto principle of prioritization is far and away the best way to draw focus to high impact improvement opportunities.
- Evaluate processes against stated objectives:
The analysis of the current state process life-cycle should be used as a baseline for defining how the improvement opportunities will drive future state business benefits (i.e., reduced cost / cycle time). Again, this should be done at an individual component or task level and then rolled up to a holistic view. This will also serve as the future state service level agreement (SLA) for the organization. Based on this analysis, it should become readily apparent what the return on investment (ROI) improvements should drive.
- Model future state by business value:
The “As-Is State” or “Current State”, together with the prioritized improvements should produce a clear vision of what the “Future State” will look like. Comparing the “As-Is State” with the “Future State” allows a phased implementation plan to emerge. When viewing the differences between the two models, a gap analysis is performed and the areas for improvement are highlight and quantified. These improvements are then level-set against the business value and prioritized accordingly.
- Simulate new processes via business use cases:
Use cases are a way for the business to communicate the goals of the BPO. They should be broken up into manageable groups of work activities, each delivering business value. These use cases will be leveraged by the implementation team and delivered in phases until the overall goals of the BPO transformation project are met. Use cases are a way for the business to identify implementation requirements in a non-technical fashion. They state the desired result while allowing flexibility on the implementation. They are also very useful when performing user acceptance testing (UAT) of the improved future state model.
- Create a change-capable workforce:
All of this analysis and planning will be for not if you don’t assemble a team capable of executing the changes necessary to realize the process improvements of the desired future state. This team needs to not only possess the requisite skills but they need to be on board with the stated objectives and be able to understand the future state vision. Additionally, the general workforce should be prepared to embrace the changes in their respective work-spaces and be on-board with the end goals of the organization as well. Gaining buy-in on process improvements from the workforce is essential; otherwise it may negatively impact the value of the BPO.
Business Process Optimization is an extensive and time-consuming process but the potential gains in reduced cost, increased efficiency, improved visibility, and the delivery of business value justify the effort. Implementing the tips above will maximize you the ROI of BPO efforts