These steps are involved in a Business Process Improvement (BPI) initiative

Sandhya Bhat

First, agreeing on the name! It is BPR or BPI?

A Rose would smell just as sweet no matter what it's name. Shakespeare probably didn't have to worry about being politically correct when he wrote these lines. He could also present his ideas in an environment that is very sensitive to emotions, such as the Human Resources department.

This is what got me thinking. I was recently working on a BPI Project. It is in the HR department. For the reasons I have outlined below, I decided not to use the BPR terminology. BPR was once very popular. However, you no longer hear about it.

BPI is the new term. This made me think about the logic. I began to investigate the matter further. The Six Sigma methodology, which is also known as Business Process Reengineering (among many other reengineering methods), and some well-known (or should I say famous) corporate restructuring ventures made the BPR acronym quite popular. The problem began when employees and others started to see 'all' reengineering projects simply as a way to tell employees that they had been fired. Soon, "BPR" and 'You are fired' became synonymous (I apologize if I offend Donald).

Industry now has a new term that isn't as scary for employees and allows Process Controls Team members to operate in a smooth manner. It is called BPI, which stands for Business Process Improvement.

These are the steps that you need to follow in order to get a BPI-approved certificate:

1. The process team leader and selection of process leaders. Process teams are made up of 2-4 employees from different departments involved in the process. Each team chooses a leader to lead the process. This could be an external SME (subject-matter expert) who is hired to lead and channel the BPI project. Or, the team could select an internal group member who reports to the SME. They are usually called a Project Leader.

2. Training in process analysis The process analysis training is provided to the selected members of the process team.

3. Interview with process analysts The process analysis team conducts several interviews with those who are involved in the process. Interviews are used to gather information about the process structure and process performance. In cases that involve touch points with software applications, other technology professionals such as Engineering and IT (information tech) might also be involved.

4. Process documentation Interview results are used for the first process map. Any process descriptions that have been previously published are reviewed and incorporated, if possible. The process maps are incorporated with any potential process improvements that were discussed during the interview.

5. Review cycle Employees then review the draft documentation. To reach a common understanding, additional review cycles may be required. The actual working of the process together with all employees. This is an iterative stage.

6. Analyzing the problem Based on the process map and the information about the process, it is possible to conduct a thorough analysis of the process. The process goals information from the strategy audit are also available at this stage of the project and can be used to determine measures for improving the process.

A 11-Step method that I've used often and found extremely helpful is:

1. Selection of process leaders and teams

2. Criteria for process analysis

3. Interview for process analysis

4. Documentation

5. Review cycle

6. Analyze of the problem

7. Improvements in design process

8. Document new processes

9. Clear out obsolete system data

10. Establish Governance group with control criteria

11. Training, deployment and support guidance

The steps are very similar to a BPR. However, by calling it a BPI, you can make your team happier and less anxious about getting work done. This should help you get started with your next BPI initiative.

About the author: Sandhya Bhat MSc, CSSMBB, CSSE has developed several new and enhanced existing strategic methodologies to improve technology and human capital utilization, produce greater ROI on investments and streamline service delivery. She is an acclaimed author, speaker, a sought after thought leader and an avid world traveler.