BPR Glossary of Terms


Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary unless the letter is the same color as this text. These letters contain no entries.

- A -

Activity Analysis: the analysis and measurement (in terms of time, cost, and throughput) of distinct units of work (activities) that make up a process.

Activity-Based Costing: a set of accounting methods used to identify and describe costs and required resources for activities within processes.

Alignment: the degree of agreement, conformance, and consistency among organizational purpose, vision, and values; structures, systems, and processes; and individual skills and behaviors.

"As Is" Process Model: a model that portrays how a business process is currently structured. In process improvement efforts, it is used to establish a baseline for measuring subsequent business improvement actions and progress

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- B -

Baselining: obtaining data on the current process that provide the metrics against which to compare improvements and to use in benchmarking.

Benchmark: a measurement or standard that serves as a point of reference by which process performance is measured.

Benchmarking: a structured approach for identifying the best practices from industry and government, and comparing and adapting them to the organization's operations. Such an approach is aimed at identifying more efficient and effective processes for achieving intended results, and suggesting ambitious goals for program output, product/service quality, and process improvement.

Benefit-Cost Analysis: a technique to compare the various costs associated with an investment with the benefits that it proposes to return. Both tangible and intangible factors should be addressed and accounted for.

Best Practices: the processes, practices, and systems identified in public and private organizations that performed exceptionally well and are widely recognized as improving an organization's performance and efficiency in specific areas. Successfully identifying and applying best practices can reduce business expenses and improve organizational efficiency.

Business Case: a structured proposal for business improvement that functions as a decision package for organizational decision makers. A business case includes an analysis of business process performance and associated needs or problems, proposed alternative solutions, assumptions, constraints, and risk-adjusted cost/benefit analysis.

Business Process Reengineering: a systematic, disciplined improvement approach that critically examines, rethinks, and redesigns mission-delivery processes in order to achieve dramatic improvements in performance in areas important to customers and stakeholders.

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- C -

Change Management: activities involved in (1) defining and instilling new values, attitudes, norms, and behaviors within an organization that support new ways of doing work and overcome resistance to change; (2) building consensus among customers and stakeholders on specific changes designed to better meet their needs; and (3) planning, testing, and implementing all aspects of the transition from one organizational structure or business process to another.

Continuous Process Improvement: an ongoing effort to incrementally improve how products and services are provided and internal operations are conducted.

Core or Key Process: business processes that are vital to the organization's success and survival.

Cultural Assumptions: beliefs about the internal workings and external environment of an organization which, having worked well in the past, have gradually come to be taken for granted, and which provide the basis for group consensus about common events and circumstances. Cultural assumptions function as the unifying themes of organizational culture.

Customer: groups or individuals who have a business relationship with the organization; those who receive and use or are directly affected by the products and services of the organization. Customers include direct recipients of products and services, internal customers who produce services and products for final recipients, and other organizations and entities that interact with an organization to produce products and services.

Cycle Time: the time that elapses from the beginning to the end of a process.

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- D -

Decomposition: breaking down a process into subprocesses and activities

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- E -

Executive Steering Committee: the top management team responsible for developing and sustaining the process management approach in the organization, including selecting and evaluating reengineering projects.

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- F -

Fishbone Diagram: a graphic technique for identifying cause-and-effect relationships among factors in a given situation or problem. Also called Ishikawa Diagramming.

Function: a set of related activities that is part of a process, often known as a subprocess within a process. Organizations often divide themselves into functional units, such as purchasing, product development, order fulfillment, etc.

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- I -

Input: the financial and nonfinancial resources the organization obtained or received to produce its outputs.

Information Engineering: an approach to planning, analyzing, designing, and developing an information system with an enterprise wide perspective and an emphasis on data and architectures.

Information Technology Investment Review Process: an analytical framework for linking information technology investment decisions to strategic objectives and business plans in organizations. The investment process consists of three phases: selection, control, and evaluation. This process requires discipline, executive management involvement, accountability, and focus on risks and returns using quantifiable measures. Guidance on the investment review process can be found in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' guide, entitled Evaluating Information Technology Investments: A Practical Guide, Version 1.0 and GAO's guide, entitled Assessing Risks and Returns: A Guide for Evaluating Federal Agencies' IT Investment Decision-making, Version 1, (GAO/AIMD-10.1.3, February 1997).

Integrated Definition for Function Modeling (IDEF): modeling techniques designed to capture the processes and structure of information in an organization. IDEF0 is a process modeling technique; IDEF1X is a rule or data modeling technique.

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- M -

Model: a representation of a set of components of a process, system, or subject area. A model is generally developed for understanding, analysis, improvement, and/or replacement of the process.

Modeling or Flowcharting: a graphic representation of the activities and subprocesses within a process and their interrelationships.

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- O -

Outcome: the ultimate, long-term, resulting effects--both expected and unexpected--of the customer's use or application of the organization's outputs.

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- P -

Performance Gap: the gap between what customers and stakeholders expect and what each process and related subprocesses produces in terms of quality, quantity, time, and cost of services and products.

Performance Measurement: the process of developing measurable indicators that can be systematically tracked to assess progress made in achieving predetermined goals and using such indicators to assess progress in achieving these goals.

Process Management Approach: approaches, such as continuous process improvement, business process redesign, and reengineering, which can be used together or separately to improve processes and subprocesses.

Process: a set of activities that produce products and services for customers.

Process Owner: an individual held accountable and responsible for the workings and improvement of one of the organization's defined processes and its related subprocesses.

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- R -

Risk Analysis: a technique to identify and assess factors that may jeopardize the success of a project or achievement of a goal. This technique also helps define preventive measures to reduce the probability of these factors from occurring and identify countermeasures to successfully deal with these constraints when they develop.

Root Cause Analysis: a technique used to identify the conditions that initiate the occurrence of an undesired activity or state.

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- S -

Sensitivity Analysis: analysis of how sensitive outcomes are to changes in the assumptions. The assumptions that deserve the most attention should depend largely on the dominant benefit and cost elements and the areas of greatest uncertainty of the program or process being analyzed.

Simulation Modeling: a simulation model is a computer program that replicates the operations of a business process and estimates rates at which outputs are produced and resources are consumed. Models test the consistency of the facts, logic, and assumptions used by planners to design a proposed business process, to compare alternative business processes, or to test the sensitivity of a process to changes in selected assumptions. Models help decision makers to assess the potential benefits, costs, and risks of alternative processes and strategies.

Stakeholder: an individual or group with an interest in the success of an organization in delivering intended results and maintaining the viability of the organization's products and services. Stakeholders influence programs, products, and services. Examples include congressional members and staff of relevant appropriations, authorizing, and oversight committees; representatives of central management and oversight entities such as OMB and GAO; and representatives of key interest groups, including those groups that represent the organization's customers and interested members of the public.

"Stretch" Goal: a goal that requires a significant change in the performance (quality, quantity, time, cost) of a process.

Subprocess: a collection of related activities and tasks within a process

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- T -

"To Be" Process Model: a process model that results from a business process redesign/reengineering action. The "to be" model shows how the business process will function after the improvement action is implemented.

Total Quality Management: an approach that motivates, supports, and enables quality management in all activities of the organization, focusing on the needs and expectations of internal and external customers

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- V -

Value-Added: those activities or steps which add to or change a product or service as it goes through a process; these are the activities or steps that customers view as important and necessary

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- W -

World Class ("Leading") Organizations: organizations that are recognized as the best for at least one critical business process and are held as models for other organizations.

Workflow: a graphic representation of the flow of work in a process and its related subprocesses; including specific activities, information dependencies, and the sequence of decisions and activities

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Revised: April 27, 1998.
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