Small and medium-sized enterprises are constantly fighting an uphill battle to stay ahead of the design curve. It can seem like as soon as you finish one website redesign project you have to get started on the next one, because design trends and norms have already moved on.
It means organizations can be tempted to rush into a website redesign or re-skin just to keep up with the Joneses. But before you get your favourite copywriter on retainer and start sketching wireframes, it’s important to first give serious thought to your business processes.
Here’s why business processes re-engineering (BPR) needs to be considered before your website redesign gets off the ground, and some of the benefits you can reap when you give proper attention to this important, and often-overlooked, part of the project.
The Opportunity is in "unknown unknowns"
‘Unknown unknowns’ is usually attributed to a quote from Donald Rumsfeld about the Iraq war, but basically, it means that you aren't aware of a whole ton of information that's out there, but not even on your radar. In any project or business process, there are three categories:
- Known knowns. These are things that you know that you know. For example, you know your business has a monthly report that impacts all of your departments and consumes a great deal of your employees' time every few weeks.
- Known unknowns. These are things that you know you don’t know. For example, you don't know why reporting takes so long, or where the bottlenecks in the process are. The causes of the reporting delay is a known unknown.
- Unknown unknowns. These are things that you don’t know that you don’t know. For example, you might not know that a custom application can automate this monthly report, freeing up time for dozens of employees, delivering productivity improvements, and reducing your error rate.
This last category – unknown unknowns – can offer a significant opportunity for organizations, however few people know to even ask about them (hence, 'unknown').
These unknown unknowns cause problems when it comes to website redevelopments because, by their nature, they need to be uncovered. Going into a site redesign project, a client may not know what technology solutions could be implemented to benefit their organization. By asking for an out-of-the-box CMS that just gets the job done, you're missing opportunities you might not know exist. As a result, typical website redesign 'wish lists' overlook important business process that can be incorporated along with a website and CMS to increase value for the business.
What’s more, as organizations grow and teams become more siloed, the number of unknown unknowns increases as information slips through the crack between departments. Those designing the processes and those using them drift further apart. For instance, your front-line staff might know about a procedural inefficiency in the reporting process that your senior executive team does not.
That’s why adequate planning and process improvement are a critical first step to any digital project.
How BPR can help
BPR can help in two major ways when it comes to website and CMS redesigns. First, it can help uncover inefficiencies, and the opportunities solving them presents. Second, it can help streamline your business with the right technology applications.
As organizations grow, their processes and systems grow with them. However, they don’t often grow seamlessly or efficiently. Usually, business processes end up cobbled together in a way that keeps the ship moving, but does little to maximize efficiency, reduce errors, or improve how staff use their time.
In that context, an unplanned website redesign only entrenches those inefficiencies more, making them an increasingly integral part of how the SME operates. Nearly every business can benefit from business process improvements, and for that reason we always recommend exploring BPR as part of a web development project.
A full BPR project scrutinizes each business process, perhaps even mapping them out for the first time , to uncover exactly what inefficiencies exist.
Once we've established a clear and shared understanding of what the process of delivering your product or service actually look like, we begin to develop solutions to make that task easier.
Applying technological solutions
Uncovering exactly where process challenges or opportunities for improvement exist is only half the battle. The second half is solving those inefficiencies. Sometimes, these can be solved with simple solutions. However, there are many cases when BPR uncovers challenges that can’t be fixed quite so easily.
By uncovering inefficiencies early in a website redevelopment project, you can strategize exactly what new tools or technologies should be implemented, and how best to leverage your existing platforms to reduce costs and achieve business objectives.
Then, you can bring that knowledge forward when you’re focused on developing your website redesign plan for a faster, easier, and cheaper implementation.
Bringing website redesign and BPR together
Your website shouldn't be off in its own silo. It should be an integrated aspect of your organization that helps it run smoothly. By taking the time to understand how your business processes actually work before you begin your web design, you can roll the re-engineering aspect of your BPR project into your website development for a more effective project delivery and a better end result.
By understanding the requirements clearly from the outset, you can design your project to solve multiple problems simultaneously.
For example, you might discover in your BPR project that sales need a better way of automating the distribution of content to potential leads. If you’re redeveloping your CMS anyway, it’s relatively easy to opt for a provider who offers automated content distribution. On the other hand, if you only discover this requirement after your CMS redesign is completed, it becomes a whole other project to enable this functionality.
Again, it’s about unknown unknowns. If you don’t undertake at least the planning and strategy phases of a BPR project, then you run the risk of finding inefficiencies that are prohibitively expensive to fix on their own but could have easily been rolled into a web redesign project.
Enhanced end result
By leading your website redevelopment with a BPR project, you can basically combine your tech processes and bring perhaps disparate systems under one roof, resulting in a far better result.
Going back to our sales automation example, if you were to bolt on an additional automatic content distribution tool for the sales team outside of your CMS, you run into a number of challenges:
- The CMS software and automation software may not integrate well, resulting in the ad hoc development of expensive manual processes
- Vendor options are limited in order to get a product that does integrate well
- Because some content now lives outside the CMS, content management is more difficult, and the power of a single source of truth is eroded.
These are all challenges that could have been avoided by folding these projects together at a minimal cost for a far better result.
And yes, this is just one example. But because a website is so critical to the overall operation of almost any business, we’ve seen this story play out again and again. Whether it’s helping sales access their content, helping customers access more services or help documentation, or helping members find the tools they need to succeed, a website is now at the heart of critical business processes.
By folding business process optimization and engineering in with a standard web design project, you can often leverage project resources and uncover previously unknown unknowns for a result that solves multiple business challenges, quickly and effectively.
When you’re redesigning a website or choosing a CMS, you’re often focused on things like the user experience or the design of the website. However, when entering a website redevelopment project, you’re effectively ‘popping the hood’ on your business, giving you a unique opportunity to not only think about the presentation of your brand online, but also the processes that power your enterprise. It's a chance to implement changes at minimal extra cost.
Which makes it a perfect opportunity for business process re-engineering. By engaging directly with how your business runs, and mapping out the activities it takes to provide your product or service, you’re likely to discover opportunity for improvement – opportunity that can be best acted on by folding in changes to a broader website redesign.
When you kick off a website redesign project with a partner who can offer a deep dive into your processes, you give yourself the best chance to find opportunities to optimize your business, becoming more efficient and better prepared to compete in the digital landscape.