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Business Process Management - Re Engineering and Cross Functional teams - An Over view:

Business Process Management , Business process improvements, Business process Re engineering , Cross functional teams

Business Process Management : Re Engineering and Cross Functional Teams:

Reengineering (or Re-engineering) is the drastic and radical redesign of an organization's processes, especially its business processes.

Process based outlook:

Rather than organizing a firm into functional specialties (like production, accounting, marketing, etc.) and looking at the tasks that each function performs, we should, according to the reengineering theory, be looking at complete processes from

• materials acquisition,
• to production,
• to marketing and
• distribution.

The firm should be re-engineered into a series of processes.

It is argued that far too much time is wasted passing-on tasks from one department to another.

They claim that it is far more efficient to appoint a team who are responsible for all the tasks in the process.

In The Agenda they extend the argument to include suppliers, distributors, and other business partners.

Re-engineering is the basis for many recent developments in management.

The Cross functional team:

The cross-functional team, for example, has become popular because of the desire to re-engineer separate functional tasks into complete cross-functional processes.

Also, many recent management information systems developments aim to integrate a wide number of business functions.

Enterprise resource planning,
supply chain management,
knowledge management systems,
groupware and collaborative systems,
Human Resource Management Systems and
customer relationship management systems all owe a debt to re-engineering theory.


Brickbats and Criticisms of re-engineering :

Reengineering has earned a bad name and reputation because such projects have often resulted in massive cost reduction and layoffs.

Wrong Name:

This reputation is not all together warranted. Companies like would downsize and call it reengineering.

Further, reengineering has not always lived up to its expectations. The main reasons seem to be that:

• reengineering assumes that the factor that limits organization's performance is the ineffectiveness of its processes (which may or may not be true) and offers no means of validating that assumption

• reengineering assumes the need to start the process of performance improvement with a "clean slate", i.e. totally disregard the status quo

• according to the theory of constraints reengineering does not provide an effective way to focus improvement efforts on the organization's constraint.

Cross-functional team:

In business, a cross-functional team consists of a group of people working toward a common goal and made of people with different functional expertise.

It could include people from
*finance,
*marketing,
*operations, and
*human resources departments.

Typically it also includes employees from all levels of an organization.

Members may also come from outside an organization (in particular, from suppliers, key customers, or consultants).

Cross-functional teams often function as self-directed teams: they respond to broad objectives, but not to specific directives.

Decision-making within a team may depend on consensus, but often is lead by a manager/coach/team leader.

Music bands :

A non-business yet good example of cross-functional teams are music bands, where each element plays a different instrument (or has a different role).

Songs are the result of collaboration and participation, and the goals are decided by consensus.

Skills to play all the instruments involved are not required since music provides a standard language that everybody in the team can understand.

In short, music bands are a clear example of how this teams work.
Organizational consequences of cross-functional teams:

Inflence on Decision making Process:

The growth of self-directed cross-functional teams has influenced decision-making processes and organizational structures.

Although management theory likes to propound that every type of organizational structure needs to make strategic, tactical, and operational decisions, new procedures have started to emerge that work best with teams.

1) Less unidirectional - Up until recently, decision making flowed in one direction. Overall corporate-level objectives drove strategic business unit (SBU) objectives, and these in turn, drove functional level objectives.

Flat Structures:

Today, organizations have flatter structures, companies diversify less, and functional departments have started to become less well-defined.

The rise of self-directed teams reflects these trends.

Multi Directional Rather than Hierarchical:

Intra-team dynamics tend to become multi-directional rather than hierarchical.

Interactive processes encourage consensus within teams. Also the directives given to the team tend to become more general and less prescribed.

2) Greater scope of information - Cross-functional teams require a wide range of information to reach their decisions.

They need to draw on information from all parts of an organization’s information base. This includes information from all functional departments. System integration becomes important because it makes all information accessible through a single interface.

3) Greater depth of information - Cross-functional teams require information from all levels of management. The teams may have their origins in the perceived need to make primarily

• strategic decisions,
• tactical decisions, or
• operational decisions,

but they will require all three types of information.
Almost all self-directed teams will need information traditionally used in strategic, tactical, and operational decisions.

For example, new product development traditionally ranks as a tactical procedure.

It gets strategic direction from top management, and uses operational departments like engineering and marketing to perform its task. But a new product development team would consist of people from the operational departments and often someone from top management.

In many cases, the team would make unstructured strategic decisions -- such as

• what markets to compete in,
• what new production technologies to invest in, and
• what return on investment to require; tactical decisions like

1. whether to build a prototype,
2. whether to concept-test,
3. whether to test-market, and

how much to produce; and structured operational decisions like
production scheduling,
inventory purchases, and
media flightings.

In other cases, the team would confine itself to tactical and operational decisions. In either case it would need information associated with all three levels.


4) Greater range of users - Cross-functional teams consist of people from many parts of an organization. Information must take a form that all users understand.

Not only engineers use technical data and not only accountants use financial data and not only human resources personnel use HR data.
Modern organizations lack middle managers to combine, sort, and prioritize the data.

Technical, financial, marketing, and all other types of information must come in a form that all members of a cross-functional team can understand.

• This involves reducing the amount of specialized jargon,
• sorting information based on importance,
• hiding complex statistical procedures from the users,
• giving interpretations of results, and
• providing clear explanations of difficult concepts.

Slicing and dicing techniques may prove useful in providing different views of the information to different users.
Data visualization systems can present complex results in an intuitive manner.

5)By the technique of Management by Objectives", business decision-making has become more goal-oriented.

Managers have come to view decision-making generally, and strategic thinking in particular, as a multi-stage process that starts with an
assessment of the current situation,

determines objectives, then

determines how to reach these objectives.

Management by objectives took this basic scheme and applied it to virtually all significant decisions.


Today many firms have started to opt for a less structured, more interactive approach. One way of implementing this involves using self-directed cross-functional teams.

Proponents hope that these teams will develop strategies that will re-define industries and create new “best practices”.

They feel that mere incremental improvements do not suffice. Cross-functional teams, using unstructured techniques and searching for revolutionary competitive advantages, allegedly require information systems featuring increased interactivity, more flexibility, and the capability of dealing with fuzzy logic.


C.EASHWER – SINGAPORE

Published: 2006-05-05
Author: Chockalingam Eswaramurthi

About the author or the publisher
Iam a Professional writer dedicated to sharing the knowledge on topics of Public interest, be it Management , Leadership , Social service , World Politics , Personalities , Industries , Health , Computers , Policy making , Governments , Book review etc., Iam from Singapore . My e mail id is : eashwer@pacific.net.sg

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