Interview

Business process reengineering: A sensitive issue for Indian organizations

Yuga Chaudhari, Principal Correspondent
SearchCIO.in: What things should a business keep in mind while conducting a business process reengineering (BPR) exercise?
Organizational preparedness for such an exercise is a key aspect to keep in mind during BPR.

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Along with this, the management's acceptance is equally important. The BPR exercise necessitates several changes in an organization's existing processes. Hence, organizations should be ready to accept the defined changes. BPR also impacts people, which is a very critical factor (especially in a country like India). So the CIO should bring it to his CEO's notice that this may bring drastic changes and that the organization should be prepared for it. These are the key things to be dealt with before making decisions.

Most Indian organizations work in a traditional way, especially in the public sector. Apprehension is common when it comes to process reengineering exercises. BPR is happening in the private sector, but not at global levels.

At Jet Airways, we started our ERP journey in 2000. As part of this, we realigned our processes in the area of human resources and other concerned departments. During this process, people had different roles to play and changed their working styles. The entire implementation was [viewed] positively within the organization. We re-implemented ERP again in 2005, as we moved from purely domestic operations to international operations.

No company should project plans for more than three years. For example, the airline industry in India is moving towards low-cost models. These might require a totally different way of doing business.
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SearchCIO.in: Can you share your step-by-step approach for process reengineering with our readers?
First of all, a CIO and his team should understand and document the organization's current processes. He should also identify who does what, in terms of identification of processes. It's a must to document everything.

It is important that the team has a change management plan. This is very critical for project success. The change management team should be aware of process automation's impact.

Third, there are objectives for any project in terms of cost reductions, revenue earnings, manpower reductions required, etc. All of these should be considered as the project's return on investment. This provides a monitoring mechanism after the project goes live.

A CIO should keep in mind that business is never constant -- requirements keep on changing. The project should be planned and implemented keeping this in mind. No company should project plans for more than three years. For example, the airline industry in India is now moving towards low-cost models. These might require a totally different way of doing business, which you may not have thought of three years ago. Hence, a mechanism is required so that the current processes can be realigned at a given point in time.

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What is business process management?
SearchCIO.in: What is the role of business stakeholders in process reengineering?
Business stakeholders have an equally important role as that of IT, since they will be affected and will benefit by the entire exercise. So there can be two parties: some people are affected as their roles change, whereas others benefit as their roles become simpler. So business involvement and acceptance are key factors in the process reengineering exercise's success. BPR is an exercise where there is a partnership between business and IT.

During this process, a CIO should become a business guy. He must speak the language of business while implementing BPR. He should make efforts to make the management aware of changes that BPR can bring in.

SearchCIO.in: What are the challenges in process reengineering? How can a CIO overcome these challenges?
The major challenge is in terms of people. In India, if you go to the management level and tell them that you can halve manpower requirements with an IT implementation, the proposal will not be acceptable to department heads. So there is resistance for such changes -- from the lowest level to the middle management level. Hence, it is very important to manage different departments by communicating the plan.