Business process reengineering may not be at the forefront of what is trending on today’s social media sites, but it is always worthwhile for agencies to periodically reassess how effective organizational processes are in meeting mission goals. To this end, we are revisiting the GAO Business Process Reengineering Assessment Guide. This is the first article in a three-article series summarizing the GAO guide. This article is intended to provide a summary of the framework provided by GAO for making a decision to pursue reengineering efforts.
Mission, Outlook and Priorities
Government agencies seldom have mandates that result in major mission changes. However, periodically reassessing how an agency’s products, services and delivery modes are supporting the mission and aligning with the needs of the customer and stakeholder is crucial. Agency leaders need to identify and assess the impact of recent issues such as shifts in demographics, budget cuts and changes in technology.
Once an analysis is conducted of alignment with mission objectives, it is recommended to map a high-level view of critical processes. Detailed process mapping is not needed at this stage; simply an overview showing how processes are linked together.
Performance Metrics Determine Areas for Reengineering
Measuring process performance and comparing performance against goals is critical to determining which processes require reengineering. If organizations are able to measure performance and identify gaps between actual and target outcomes, then areas with significant room for improvement are candidates for reengineering.
It can also be helpful if specific problems that stand in the way of meeting mission goals can be identified. Smaller gaps in performance or a known issue may be able to be addressed using other approaches.
Benchmarking initiatives can also provide a basis for determining which processes require reengineering. External benchmarking against the goals and performance of leading organizations in the field can provide a wealth of relevant information. Using dissimilar organizations for benchmarking is also encouraged in order to inspire new ideas for ways of working.
Once a list of processes for possible improvement has been identified, the list should be prioritized based upon defined criteria. Possible criteria include consideration of potential return on investment or direct impacts to mission goals and stakeholders
Is Reengineering the Best Solution and is the Agency Prepared?
Using the prioritized list of potential processes for improvement, several broad criteria can be used to determine if reengineering is a viable improvement effort. The Assessment Guide lists the following questions to help determine when reengineering is appropriate:
- “Is the process of strategic importance to the agency’s mission?
- Does the process urgently need dramatic improvement in order to meet the agency’s own performance goals?
- Is there a high level of customer and/or stakeholder dissatisfaction with the process (quality, timeliness, cost)
- Does the process have a long cycle time with many sequential activities, multiple hand offs, checkpoints, and significant waiting time between work steps (e.g., processing a benefits claim)?
- Did benchmarking show that other organizations can do the same (or analogous) process much better?
- Is the process highly dependent on information, so that information technology might be used to speed the work flow, collapse work steps, and improve realtime decision-making?”
In addition, the agency’s readiness to engage in a reengineering project should be considered. Executive leadership commitment is essential to success with involvement from top management in directing change management activities. Preparations may also need to be made through evaluating available expertise. An investment may need to be made in training, tools or outside resources.
Many trends in business come and go, but business process reengineering is a fundamental business exercise to revisit often.
Look for the 2nd article in this series for guidance on assessing the new process development efforts.