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Intelligent Process Engineering – A New Approach to Business Process Reengineering

Increased economic pressure requires enterprises to permanently improve their operations. But optimizing  the existing processes without better leveraging data, information and tools will not lead to the required improvements. In addition, increased business volatility and complexity requires an agile way to processes engineering. Therefore, we propose a digitally enabled approach to holistically analyze the value creation processes of enterprises and to engineer the processes in an integrated, agile and sustainable way.

Holistically – Consider operational data and insights from employees and customers to identify process areas to improve.

Integrated – Enable a productive work flow from analysis to design to implementation, leveraging the existing solutions.

Agile – Perform the analysis, design and implementation in shorter time cycles. Search for early feedback and learnings from frontrunners.

Sustainable – Embed agile principles to adopt to changes in the process design. Consistently monitor the process execution and trigger retrospectives.

Driven by Technology and Customer Demand

Since the invention of Business Process Redesign (BPR), often associated with Michael Hammer’s and James Champy’s landmark book “Reengineering the Corporation” (Hammer, M., & Champy, J. (2003)), business technology and business environments significantly changed. One may say, the underlying problems of businesses, which drove the initial success of BPR have even increased. Today, the challenges business face question not just the way businesses run their processes but also the overall business model and organizational paradigms of companies. At the same time, technology push enables new ways to analyze data and to gain insights into performance.

Process performance is a key lever to consistently improve the efficiency of businesses. Managers have to apply better ways to identify improvements and to deploy appropriate solutions. If they don’t find a way, competition will win the race.

A New Approach: Intelligent Process Engineering

To master these challenges, we propose an approach for business reengineering which incorporates advances in areas like cognitive computing, big data analytics, and automation. We call it Intelligent Process Engineering (IPE). IPE was built to consider the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment for companies. It also reflects the changes in the way we will work in the future, e.g. in a more agile and autonomous way. IPE is based on learnings from years of applying BPR and our discussions with multiple companies.

In more detail, IPE consists of 5 phases, which – while depending on each other – can be applied either subsequently or in an iterative way in an agile rsp. sprint-based manner. Starting with an initial exploration of improvement opportunities, IPE continuous with mapping the system and process performance, designing new or improving existing processes, and strives to seamlessly deploy the required solutions. To come to sustainable improvements, IPE includes monitoring the performance of processes and triggering next iterations of process analysis when necessary.

So all in all, IPE helps companies to apply a sustainable data-driven approach for process re-engineering and enables companies to leverage the next level of process optimization for increased productivity. Key aspects are

  • Integrate analysis & optimization of processes, as customers require this to be part of the solution,
  • Consistent use of intelligent technologies like AI and automation in all phases,
  • Leverage data-driven insights and enable a faster and agile approach lower manual efforts,
  • Use best practices and digital tools for a higher level of automation and assistance.

So, if we raised your interest into IPE as an approach, please feel free contact either Wolfgang Faisst (Wolfgang.Faisst@sap.com) or Rüdiger Eichin (Ruediger.Eichin@sap.com) for more details.

Sources:

Hammer, M., & Champy, J. (2003). Reengineering the corporation: a manifesto for business revolution (1st HarperBusiness Essentials pbk. ed). New York: HarperBusiness Essentials.

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