The differences between business process improvements and business process engineering are subject to argument. Basically, business process improvement is another term for business process re-engineering and therefore references to these are interchangeable.

An internet search will soon show that the typical failure rates for BPR projects are around 70%. Much of this is due to taking the wrong approach. According to an Arthur Andersen partner, Gary Steinel “BPR became equivalent to cost reduction and there was too much focus on reducing fat rather than radically redesigning processes.”

At its heart, business process improvement is about solving problems and realizing opportunities. But we don’t seem to be getting any better at this.

I believe that one of the main causes for this is a lack of creative thinking. It’s why we can end up trying to make poorly designed business processes do more than they are capable of, rather than using creative thinking to find radically new ways of doing things.

This may mean looking critically at how we do things and starting again by asking the following questions:

  • What do we want to do better?
  • What do we want to stop doing?
  • What do we want to start doing?

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