Retool or Re-engineer?

Every business or organization has cycles like farming -- sow, grow, harvest, rest, repeat. Of course everyone who knows anything about farming knows the rest is better described as prepare for the next season and make important decisions about things like repairing or replacing equipment.

In the same way, it's important for management of businesses and organizations to evaluate processes during the rest part of their cycle. Assuming there is always something that could work better, managers need to decide if it's better to make improvements to the existing system or rethink the whole process.  

Re-engineering is a complete process change that has a high level of risk but the upside of such disruptive activity can literally change the world. Think about Uber or Google.  

Retooling embodies the ideal of continuous improvement. Sometimes called "kaizen", it's the philosophy that turned Japan into an industrial world power after being all but obliterated in WWII.

Both approaches will almost certainly lead to improvements in how your organization runs, so the question is, which strategy is the right approach for your circumstances?

Re-engineering is not something a company does once every year or two, except in the most dire of circumstances. Re-engineering should be reserved for:

  • Major changes in the business or organization i.e., significant growth
  • Quantum changes in technology, especially when it relates to your core business activity
  • Customer or employee demands for a new way of doing things

Retooling is a great follow-up to re-engineering. Regardless of how well an organization plans and executes a re-engineering project, there are always areas that need to be tweaked. With retooling, focus on:

  • Eliminating unnecessary processes, activities or barriers
  • Individual employee education, empowerment and self improvement
  • Breaking barriers between department and teams within the organization

If your business needs to retool or completely re-engineer, your Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) can provide valuable advice.