Document Business Process Improvement

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          Document Business Process Improvement:
           The Method and Tools are Everything...

                                     Rick Madar
                            e-docTEK, Carrollton, TX, 75007

 2004 e-docTEK. All rights reserved. E-docTEK grants to the BFMA the right to use, distribute, and sell
this copyrighted material.

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Business Process Improvement, a revolutionary new approach to analyzing traditional business
processes, fuses information technology and human resource management. When effective,
Business Process Improvement (BPI) can dramatically improve business performance. As we
embrace the accelerated migration into the e-Business era, simply formulating strategy is no
longer sufficient. It is also essential to design the process to implement the strategy effectively.

Built around new technologies and motivated workers, effective Business Process Improvement
begins with a commitment to a strategic vision from senior executives. Its scope can be vast and
cross multiple business functions. Its goals should be ambitious. Companies embarking on
Business Process Improvement often seek tenfold improvement in cost, time, or quality.

A cornerstone to effective Business Process Improvement's dramatic results is information
technology  a largely untapped resource, but a crucial "enabler" of Business Process
Improvement. In turn, only a challenge like BPI affords maximum use of information
technology's potential.

However, information technology is an enabler tool that should only be deployed after both the
old and new business processes are well understood, mapped for process and cost, and
redesigned. The following information will cover a disciplined approach to implementing
Document Business Process Improvement for meeting business goals and objectives.
Additionally, the subject of advanced software modeling tools used to chart and simulate
workflows will be covered.

Rationale for Business Process Improvement (BPI)
Why change?
Work processes in today's production world have never before been so widely affected by
technology as they are currently. PCs, networks, infrastructures, and information access is so
rapidly changing and becoming so cost effective, companies are easily being forced into change.
It simply becomes a given: Today's business climate requires frequent process updates.

Companies are consistently being presented with the following questions:

       Are our business and financial goals being met?
       Is our competition better?
       How can we improve?
       What things really need to be changed?

In providing answers to these questions, companies are challenged to put new processes,
procedures, and systems into place to affect the profitability and future stability of their

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Driving Factors of Process Change
We can define the following items as major driving factors for Process Change:

      Customer Service Concerns
      Daily Operations Costs
      Employee Productivity
      Work Process Cycle Time
      Constant Advances in Technology
      Competitive Challenges in the Marketplace
      Organization Infrastructure

After examining each of these factors, it is commonly agreed that the most influential factor
from the group is Competitive Challenges in the Marketplace.

Competitive Marketplace Drives Process Change
The nature of today's competitive business environment drives differentiation. Companies are
challenged on a daily basis to watch and understand what their competition is offering. The
following factors have a direct impact on this competitiveness and the efficiency a company has
to meet these needs.

      Customer Satisfaction
      Customer Needs
      Products and Services
      Document Usage

When examining these factors in detail, a common theme emerges: many typical business
processes are driven by documents. In the past, a big deterrent of automating these documents
has been the cost of providing technology to meet the needs. With the continued price reduction
of networks and computers, technology that enables business document automation is rapidly
growing throughout corporations. However, the main driver for migrating from paper processes
to using electronic alternatives is the business benefit, not the technology itself. In today's
competitive business environment, achieving desired business goals requires constant process
improvement particularly in the area of business document automation.

Definition of Business Process Improvement (BPI)
The following definition can be used in terms of describing general Business Process

"BPI is the re-design of existing business operations to achieve significant production

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Effective Business Process Improvement will typically generate positive results in the following
two major areas:

       Increased Operational Efficiency
       Increased Customer Focus

A key to achieving successful Document Automation Business Process Improvement is focusing
on the business requirement of the solution and not the technology used to facilitate the solution.
Projects will fail when technology has not been analyzed properly and built into a solid business
solution for a new process. One should not look to re-engineer a process to implement a
technology, but use a technology as component to process improvement.

Another very critical key to achieving success is following an effective Business Process
Improvement Methodology during the project. When BPI is implemented using a structured
methodology, it can effectively help companies reduce operations costs, improve quality, and
facilitate improved customer service. We will examine a structured BPI Methodology in detail
after summarizing the typical benefits achieved from a Document Automation BPI project.

Benefits of Document Automation BPI
The following benefits are typically recognized after implementing an effective Document
Automation project:

       An established set of common goals and objectives throughout the company
       Integrated document management processes
       Uniform display, data collection, and printing strategies
       Improved control of documents
       Higher quality of documents
       Less paper, reduced costs
       Improved document processing cycle time

Business Process Improvement Methodology
Structured Approach
In order to achieve successful change in a process, a structured Business Process Methodology
must be used. I have found the following four step methodology to be very effective.

   1.   Identify and Select the Processes
   2.   Map the Processes
   3.   Redesign the Processes
   4.   Implement the Solution

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Step 1 is to Identify and Select the Processes to automate. One must:

   1.   Gain agreement change is needed
   2.   Find opportunities with potential to deliver big results
   3.   Select a Project Champion and Process Owner
   4.   Finalize goals, objectives, and scope
   5.   Organize a "Process Improvement Team"

Step 2 is to Map the Processes

   1.   Map and analyze the current process
   2.   Determine the bottlenecks, hand-off points, and process times
   3.   Complete process and activity based costing
   4.   Evaluate resource utilization
   5.   Determine process weaknesses

Step 3 is to Re-design the Processes

   1.   Set goals and objectives for the new design
   2.   Design and map a new process
   3.   Simulate, evaluate, and refine the process
   4.   Verify the redesigned process meets objectives
   5.   Integrate the redesigned process with the other processes
   6.   Gain agreement for the new design and cost/benefit analysis

Step 4 is to Implement the Solution

   1.   Finalize the process improvement implementation plan
   2.   Gain consensus and funding for implementation phase
   3.   Establish infrastructure for the new process
   4.   Develop process and fully test
   5.   Train staff and plan for on-going support
   6.   Implement and integrate the new process
   7.   Measure new process to ensure compliance with objectives

Recommended Project Deliverables
To deliver an effective Business Process Improvement Project from concept into implementation
will take an effective team effort incorporating strong leadership and individual team member
participation. In order to help facilitate effective communications between the process
improvement team, the sponsoring executives, and the end-users, proper documentation must be
written and delivered. The following deliverables should be generated as part of the BPI project.

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