Written By Joseph Jones

Where to Look for BPR Opportunities (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third article of our series on BPR.  We have already examined

  1. Why BPR may be useful in your business environment, and
  2. How to establish and undertake a BPR initiative.

Now, let’s see where to look for BPR opportunities that you can use.

During the Reagan defense build-up in the 1980s, the US Army embarked upon an ambitious program of assembling “as-is” functional specifications for Command, Control and Communications (C3) at the Corps, Division, and Brigade levels.  These specifications served as the framework for a variety of radical systems engineering and integration improvements: adjusting and introducing more effective Tables of Organization and Equipment (TOEs) and doctrine; modeling and evaluating performance of tactical information exchange and identifying “choke points”; and introducing personal computing to start automating battlefield processes within the 9th Light Infantry (“High-Tech”) Division.

In the 1990s, the DoD rolled out a revolutionary program for Corporate Information Management (CIM), under the guidance of the Director of Defense Information (DDI), Paul Strassman.  CIM’s Functional Process Improvement (FPI) methodology systematized building the business cases for increasing military functional effectiveness and reducing costs, often using information technology as a primary enabling factor.  CIM set the direction for re-engineering the DoD’s evolving information infrastructure and identifying opportunities for improving processes at the enterprise level.  CIM combined Integrated Definition (IDEF) modelling and activity-based costing (ABC) with structured business process improvement workshops to ferret out inefficient processes, poor business practices, and costly non-value-added activities.

In the January 2014 issue of AFCEA’s SIGNAL magazine, Paul Strassman addressed the implications of the third generation of information technologies and the DoD’s Joint Information Environment (JIE).  In his article, he cites three examples of where the DoD needs to apply lessons learned from industry re-engineering:

  1. Acquire the capacity to operate with much larger data sets – deriving concise, actionable information from a multitude of disparate data sources;
  2. Economize application development and validation – reducing programming effort (and complexity) and product delivery lead time by leveraging data management and security through platform-as-a-service infrastructures; and
  3. Focus on the Internet of Things (some are already jumping to the Internet of Everything) – driving innovation and creativity while building new process synergies for mission effectiveness.

Perhaps these are applicable in your business ecosystem.  Starting with the business objectives and drivers listed in Part 1 of this series, let’s look for potential BPR objectives that could help transform your business world like MicroSoft, Apple, Google, eBay, PayPal, Tesla, Nike, GE, Virgin, WalMart, Twitter, LinkedIn, Square, Bitcoin, Instagram, and the examples above.  These potential targets include


Choosing and implementing best practices for improvements such as

  • Reducing the rate of returning patients or recurring IT trouble tickets
  • Reducing the incidence of product defects or Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs)


Avoiding non-value added activities and misappropriation of resources that can cause

  • Delays, excess expenses, or deviations in processes, products, and services
  • Escalating supplier and materials management costs

Performance Management

Improve performance by reducing inefficiencies due to

  • Deteriorating adherence to service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Increases in product storage needs, rejection rates, and materials waste
  • Unconnected health datasets for personal health histories, demographics, medical practice records, clinical charts, diagnostics, surveys, insurance claims, vital statistics, and public health
  • Gaps between desired profitability and actual results


Optimizing business processes against a practical mix of legacy and/or new systems by

  • Infusing new technologies that will provide significant business value
  • Building new infrastructures (i.e., electric car re-charging stations, cell towers) to accommodate new technologies
  • Accommodating the impact of new technologies (i.e., software-defined network management to accommodate the growing bandwidth required for digital media, using EHRs to integrate clinical and personal data, etc)

Organizational Posture

Enhance realization of business goals and partnerships by

  • Instilling a competitive culture of leadership, inspiration, inclusion, creativity, innovation, adaptation, and resilience
  • Breaking down silos of functions, processes, resources, information, and/or technologies
  • Modernizing skills through training and re-training, using online methods to keep pace with the business climate and applicable technologies



Enable more agile, customer-centric strategies for

  • Stabilizing eroding market shares
  • Targeting new or expanding markets (i.e., global middle class)

Statutory and Regulatory Compliance

Improving compliance and cutting the cost of overhead associated with the

  • Adherence to Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for regulated medical devices
  • Meeting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requirements for quality and affordability
  • Safeguarding information covered by Title II of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers
  • Satisfying Section 901 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 mandating BPR for Defense Business Systems (DBSs)

Within your own enterprise, selecting which BPR targets to address is like so many other portfolio management projects in our “doing more with less” world – you usually can’t do it all, so you set priorities based on relevance and value.  Starting with a manageable pilot can reduce the shock on your operating budget, while yielding relatively early results that can be used to build momentum and enhance buy-in.  For example, project managers at the DoD and the American Cancer Society have recognized the value of improving purchasing early-on to reduce costs that can be re-invested in further BPR initiatives.  But both organizations will quickly tell you that the ultimate target is to implement sweeping changes that will impact their mission – deterring war and protecting the security of our country, and saving more lives faster and better, respectively.

I hope this series has inspired you to look further into BPR and its potential for your ecosystem.  At the LeWeb 2013 conference, Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group took a page from Tom Peters’ book Re-imagine! when he said, “This is a time when anything and everything can be re-imagined…the next 10 years is a decade that must be willed instead of unveiled…fuelled by innovations that disrupt thinking, behaviour, and markets.”  So, are you ready to see what BPR can do to help you re-imagine, re-engineer, and manage the course of change in your future?