Size Doesn’t Matter – BPX Does
Business Process Excellence. Is this a discipline that only big players in the market have a need for or does and should every business, regardless of size of operations or manpower practice this?
To be able to answer this question properly and completely, I think it would be wise to first understand what BPX encompasses.
In its essence, the discipline of BPX requisites us to discover, define, design, implement, monitor, govern and improve on our enterprise’s modus operandi. For any business, there is a specific service or product that we are trying to sell, and our modus operandi is to provision that service or product at the value that our customers perceive at the lowest possible cost to maximize our profits.
This rings true whether you are operating a profit or non-profit organization and regardless of the size of your operations from the corner deli to a multi-billion-dollar firm. In the end, the objective of the organization would still be to enable you to achieve the goals of your organization without breaking the bank so that you are able to continuously develop and enhance your organization and workforce for the betterment of your customers.
That being said, in the context of SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises), sometimes because the scale of the operations is so small either because of the number of employees to be handled or because of the market segment that the company operates in being too niche to scale, owners and management often feel that resources should be better channelled towards ensuring the right product or service is being delivered to the right clients. Little attention is usually paid towards the improvement of the means so long as the ends are justifiable. And this usually rings true, at least at the inception of the business as sales of the product or service increases on a trajectory that buries the true profitability of the business. However, eventually plateaus will occur and suddenly the SMEs find themselves at a crossroads of whether to expand or cost cut.
It is usually at this juncture that BPX plays its greatest role. In its essence, BPX as a discipline requires us to revisit the most basic of our value contributions to the product or service which formulates the price range that we target to sell our products at. This discovery of value towards our intended market and targeted customers is what defines the DISCOVER stage of BPX.
This product or service at the perceived value to our clientele, will need to be justified by every input that we provide to provision it. This decomposition is best visualized by breaking down and defining each step that we take, the inputs that we feed in and the systems (manual or machine) that we use. Laying all of these out in the sequence in which we practice it currently exemplifies the objectives of the DEFINE stage of BPX.
Once our decomposition of our current practice has been established, the next step would be to ensure that any non-value-added activity or input is then be removed if it does not play a role in contributing to the perceived value of the product or service. This re-design of the way we work would result in the creation of the Target Operating Model (TOM) that epitomizes the DESIGN stage of BPX.
With the target in hand, we can now put into action our new way of working using the TOM as a guide to ensure that the activities, actors, inputs and outputs and systems that we had designed are orchestrated as per our intended design. As it suggests, this brings us through the IMPLEMENT stage of BPX.
However, implementation is not where it ends. We must make sure that our new way of working is actually delivering on the intended results. This is where we would need to ensure that we utilize our TOM not just as a guide to implement but also as a benchmark to determine if we have managed to implement our targeted way of working or are we still some ways off. The gaps derived from such an exercise would then need to be documented as the key outcome of the MONITOR stage of BPX.
With the gaps identified as our challenges to achieving the intended results in our TOM, we would seek mitigation via improvement measures that either target to bridge the gap or eliminate it altogether. These action plans would be the main outcome of the IMPROVE phase of BPX whilst ensuring the plans are in sync with our overall business objectives, mission and vision would be where the GOVERN phase of BPX is critical.
Notwithstanding the structured approach towards architecting our business models for a better future, none of the steps are afforded to the high echelon of businesses. Any business, regardless of size and profitability would be able to and should practice it. The only question worth considering herein would be whether your business is deserving of its sustainability and profitability. If it is, then there is no doubt in my mind that you should inculcate the culture of BPX within your organization.