Uncovering Opportunities with a Business Process Review

Bill Onion

BPR examplesRunning a Business Process Review has been known to uncover business opportunities that your team has yet to identify. You may think you know where you can cut costs or increase efficiency, but do you know all of those opportunities? Part of the BPR process is gathering knowledgeable people from each area of your business and taking a hard look at every nook and cranny of your operations. This can uncover opportunities that may have been unknown before.

In the past, we’ve seen team members bring up inefficiencies that they previously thought weren’t a big deal until they were able to sit in a room with the rest of the key players. We’ve seen team members realize that issues were happening upstream or downstream from their spot in the process chain that they were never aware of. Having your team together to discuss your process from start to finish gives everyone the opportunity to realize how they affect the process and identify where things could be improved.

Here are a few examples of improvements, large and small, that our team has helped customers uncover through a Business Process Review.

Automating Email Purchase Orders

We performed a business process review with a client who was required to email invoices to customers. They were doing this by having the sales team print the invoice as a PDF, scanning and saving that PDF, then manually emailing the invoice. The sales team had put that process in place themselves without involvement from the larger organization

It wasn’t until sales team members attended the purchasing session of the business process review that they learned the company already had a process in place to automatically email purchase orders to vendors which could be replicated for sales. From there, the sales team was able to automate their invoice email process and free up their time for more pressing matters.

Streamlining EDI Processes to Save Time and Resources

We worked with a client who, like many organizations, was running multiple EDI processes to communicate with customers and vendors. They were experiencing a number of pain points in their EDI environment, however. The main challenge was that their EDI environment contained duplicated software tools and business processes. This resulted in tasks taking too long to complete.  As an example, things like adding a new customer or making changes to an existing customer’s information were taking an extraordinary amount of time to complete.

Managing their day-to-day activities was laborious as the processes had multiple points of failure that required the help of multiple people to fix. Because of these hiccups, they were spending too much time and money on supporting their EDI environment. Additionally, the organization wasn’t sure that they had the right mix of skills and resources working within the EDI environment.

This client already knew that the technology layers were in bad shape, but they wanted a second opinion. Our team took a look and analyzed how to approach these issues in a Business Process Review of their EDI instance.

The Solution

We followed our established evaluation procedure and took that assessment of the people, technology, and processes and gave each item a red, yellow, or green score, along with explanations for those scores. From there, our team assembled a matrix of 20 recommendations of things to do moving forward. With the client team’s input, each recommendation was ranked low to high on effort to implement and impact to the business. To begin making changes, we recommended starting with those recommendations ranked as high impact, low effort.

With the priorities identified, we put together a timeline of next steps in terms of weeks, months, and quarters, as well as which recommendations could be completed internally and which would require outside help.

By following those straightforward steps, our client was able to move forward with a plan to improve processes and technology, consolidate their environments, and make their infrastructure more straightforward.

Discovering a Solution with Existing Tools

This client is an auto parts manufacturer and distributor who was having trouble keeping track of stock movements around the warehouse. Much of the confusion was due to their process of backflushing work orders.

Typically, in manufacturing, the warehouse issues everything to the bill of material when the components are pulled from stock and staged. In a backflush, however, the materials aren’t issued until the order is complete and the person completing it records it in the system. This means the materials are being physically moved around the shop floor without their movements being accounted for in the system. This makes it much harder to keep track of raw material and component inventories – both quantities on hand and their physical location in the warehouse.

In this situation, it was impossible to get an accurate inventory for raw materials, components, or finished goods until the worker finished the production run and backflushed their work orders. Until that backflush happened, another person trying to locate a completed order or any of the materials needed to create that item didn’t know what materials were in process and where. As a high-volume shop with quick-moving items, this was a huge issue.

This lack of visibility into the moving stock on the front end and completed projects on the back end was one of the issues that our team observed during the client’s BPR. What our team also noticed, however, was that the solution to this problem already existed in the client’s arsenal.

The Solution

Our team recommended that the client use the RF devices they already used for recording transfers to track work orders and materials. Floor personnel could then track an item’s movements from the stock location to assembly floor, so that others could easily find said item. Just as the RF device is used to track an item from receiving to warehouse, it could now be used to track the item from the warehouse to assembly.

Are You Ready for a Business Process Review?

Each of these situations are great examples of how a Business Process Review can reveal helpful solutions within your organization. What solutions could be hiding in your operations? Get started with a Business Process Review to find out.

Click here to learn how to run an effective  Business Process Improvement Review

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