Business Re-Engineered – How optimisation in African businesses really occurs


Is Africa Ready for Process Re-Engineering?

Today’s forward-looking organisations are using business re-engineering as a model for embracing change that takes everyone along. Change is uncomfortable. It takes people out of their comfort zones and can make your customers and clients feel they need help finding stuff they used to locate easily. However, as someone who heads a company that powers business process reengineering, I know that an organisation that fears change is heading for oblivion and irrelevance.    

But how does business process reengineering occur, particularly in a way that encompasses and respects African values? This is a topic I have grappled with in the last couple of weeks. Finally, I got to put pen to paper and share my views.

What Is Business Process Reengineering? 

The idea of business process reengineering begins by attempting to understand how we can radically design our processes to serve the customer better, increase employee satisfaction, and boost the return on investment for all stakeholders while acting responsibly. The process involves several crucial elements, including:

  • Understanding what we need to deliver to the client.
  • Creating a blueprint of what must be done to deliver the best goods and services.
  • Ensuring we are clear about how to avoid system breakages in delivering services and goods.
  • Planning resources, people, and technology so that everything is seamless.

We need business process reengineering because in the world we live in today, people have become less patient. This means that when there are breakages in the system, consumers will move to the next available service or goods provider.

To complete all tasks that need to be accomplished, it is vital that businesses can establish priorities. This makes it possible to focus attention and resources on the most critical aspects that will drive the change.


Why The African Way?

In thinking about business process reengineering, I specifically refer to the idea of African business. I do this because I know the danger of failing to align business reengineering with the realities of the most important people in the process, whether it’s the employees, customers, or suppliers.

In Africa, business process reengineering needs to be sensitive to the reality that we are a sharing people. For instance, when a client comes back to us with challenges, we are always happy to assist, in most cases, without needing that client to pay more. This speaks to the collective character of our cultures. Therefore, any attempt at business process reengineering must begin with recognising that some of our challenges can be solved if African businesses embrace the continent’s culture of sharing.


Prioritising Aspects To Focus On

Business process reengineering is the buzzphrase of our time, but an important question needs to be asked before you can climb on the bandwagon: What needs to be optimised? We need first to ask and answer this question to avoid falling into the danger of wasting resources and optimising non-value processes. 

Prioritising the aspects to optimise includes identifying the areas you need to improve. This process involves determining the impact of the aspects you focus on, the costs, and the feasibility of change in such areas.  


The Challenges 

Change can be painful. Therefore, organisations attempting to radically reengineer their processes will meet several challenges. One of the most significant challenges we have seen is related to businesses that have grown over the years. Their employees have over 15 years of operating with technology from 15 years ago. Resistance to change in such organisations is the order of the day. 

If they had a choice, such organisations might continue just how they are. However, this is not a choice for any business that wants to compete with the latest in the game using the most sophisticated technology availed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. To get the levers for gaining efficiencies to be agile and respond to your clients, you will need help from professionals that understand business reengineering based on values that respect the culture of all stakeholders. 

How it Occurs

Business reengineering may call for suffering in the short term to ensure that the long-term goals are met. However, we can balance short-term and long-term goals to create a smooth landing for all involved. If the business re-engineering process fails to gain the buy-in of all the major stakeholders, particularly the employees, motivation will be low, and the process will fail. 

Here are the most critical elements you need to focus on:  

  • Agree on the baseline, made up of not less than three elements using the PPQ model: performance, profitability, and quality. 
  • Align the organisation’s employees to the business optimisation goals. 
  • Engage, lobby, get buy-in and get people in the same picture. 
  • Appreciate that you are dealing with people, the one element that makes you effective as an organisation.  
  • Always remember that you are dealing with people and legacy technology. 
  • Introduce small incremental changes to daily operations with little components that employees drive and build value from.  
  • Ensure that people understand the value they are getting from a specific pathway.

Measure Progress 

You will need to measure the success of the business optimisation initiative. Without a method for measuring the success of the business process re-engineering, we will never know whether our goals are being achieved. Here, we need to understand what to measure and at what time. We should avoid the fallacy of measuring only one element. For instance, you may measure output and find you have increased by 100 per cent, but if you fail to measure quality, you may end up with no one to buy the services or products you are producing so much of because they are poor quality. 

If all this sound complicated, and you would rather focus on your core business, you can find business reengineering experts who will quietly put everything in place and optimise your business processes.