A human-centred approach to Business Process Reengineering

Published on
April 25, 2023
A group of workers discuss business processes in the office


  • A government authority, on a digital transformation journey, commissioned PebbleRoad to conceptualise a next-gen integrated case management system.
  • Leveraging our UX experience, we designed human-centred business processes that helped the client imagine new ways of working in a modern, digital workplace.

The Challenge

A government authority, which regulates and enforces safety practices and measures, is on a digitalisation and business transformation journey.

Its vision is to:

  • Become a data-driven organisation to identify risks and improve decision making; 
  • Enable cross-functional collaboration to optimise staff's roles; and
  • Improve the experience for external stakeholders to enhance safety and compliance.

To kickstart transformation, the authority has identified several initiatives to work on. This includes an Integrated Case Management System for processing various case types across the organisation - the bulk of which would be regulatory licences and applications . 

It has in mind a truly seamless digital journey that does not require any manual interventions to complete a task. The new system would also leverage automation and enable effective data-driven decision-making.  

In late 2022, PebbleRoad was commissioned to conceptualise the regulatory function of this system using Business Process Reengineering (BPR) methods. 

Our findings and recommendations, including reengineered processes and technical requirements, would then lay the foundation of the rest of the Integrated Case Management System.

The Approach

A human-centred approach

From the onset, PebbleRoad adopted a human-centred approach to  ensure that the future system would not only prioritise efficiency, but also user experience (UX).

We were intentionally people-centred and paid attention to human factors such as, their working culture, capabilities and pain points, when designing the new system. 

“I didn’t know this happened in this process” was a common refrain heard during the cross-functional BPM workshops.

Breaking down silos

The client has an existing system for processing regulatory applications, which formed the base for us to work on.

We conducted user interviews with staff from various departments to derive greater insights into their workflow. This was to help us plot the “as-is” business process maps (BPMs).

While each department was well-versed in their own processes, we soon uncovered overlaps with other processes. This highlighted the siloed and fragmented nature of the existing system.

To gain a holistic view, we brought cross-functional teams together to redefine not just their own BPMs but also the integration with other processes within the regulatory lifecycle. 

This cross-functional BPM mapping was challenging but necessary. Not only did it give us a deep understanding of the users, but it helped its people realise what they had been missing before. 

“I didn’t know this happened in this process” was a common refrain heard during these cross-functional BPM workshops. 

Gaining empathy

Some of the pain points uncovered from the “as-is” BPM process were: 

  • Manual case processing: Although the system was digital, it did not leverage automation. Certain parts of the processes were still manual.
  • Siloed data and workflows:  Due to this, users did not have a complete view of information across cases. This led to difficulty collaborating and coordinating among the teams using the system. 
  • Inability to make data-driven decisions: Data collected were often duplicated, unstructured and siloed, making it hard to derive insights. There was also a lack of standardisation and classification, impacting trend analysis. 
  • Poor user experience: Due to system limitations, staff could not quickly extract key metrics for reporting or quick insight generation, for instance. 
We challenged the staff as subject matter experts to improve their work processes and to imagine how automation and technology could change how they worked.  


From research and “as-is” analysis, we moved on to define the “to-be” state of the next-gen system. 

Since the client was specific with their goal of “digitalising” and not simply “digitising” their processes, we could completely rethink current processes instead of making incremental improvements. 

To do so, we brought the cross-functional teams back together to brainstorm and co-design radical process improvement ideas. 

By this point, they were aware of the bigger picture and knew how their work connected. 

We challenged them as subject matter experts (SMEs) to improve their work processes and to imagine how automation and technology could change how they worked.  

Amongst them were natural champions who made the mental leaps to contribute 105 improvement ideas. They ranged from ways to:

  1. Remove unnecessary steps in processes;
  2. Collaborate with other departments;
  3. Add value e.g., with technology; and
  4. Automate e.g., identifying cases to inspect based on risk assessment

The Outcome

Future system envisioned

Altogether, 85 “to-be” BPMs for the future system were created with a focus on:

  • Being user-centred;
  • Streamlining processes;
  • Adding value through technology;
  • Improving collaboration; and
  • Leveraging automation. 

Each process was further elaborated through user stories, which provided the next level of detail to guide developers on how a particular step or feature is supposed to work, from a user's perspective. These included business rules/logic and acceptance criteria, which could be used for future User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

To ensure that the envisioned “to-be” state would be achieved, we provided high-level technical requirements with descriptions of the main features and capabilities that the solution should support.

An implementation plan outlining strategy, activities, and resources required to transition the existing processes to the new portal was also laid out. 

A backlog prioritisation framework was created to help the client team prioritise development work. 

Beyond deliverables

Beyond the deliverables, our BPR approach led to important mindset shifts within the organisation, laying the groundwork for larger transformations ahead.  

Holistic view

The initial user interviews revealed a need to integrate the siloed processes into an end-to-end case lifecycle. We identified several such lifecycles, which we used to group related case types. 

Bringing cross-functional teams together to define the “to-be” BPMs ensured that staff were thinking about the connections holistically.

Starting change now 

It will take the client several years to successfully roll out the envisioned system on an enterprise scale.

However, our approach of co-designing, their exposure to BPMs tools and the possibilities of the new system have empowered staff to think about how they might reimagine and continuously improve processes. 

They have begun to ask how their current day to day work flow can be improved, based on a holistic and interconnected perspective. 

We have seeded a product mindset (which focuses on taking ownership to make constant improvements), instead of the typical project mindset (which focuses on creating and launching new things).

Envisioning a future system for a modern, digital workplace requires a shift in mindset today.


Co-designing the future through a human-centred approach meant that staff were empowered to think radically and given the tools to imagine change in a complex ecosystem.

At the same time, it led us to identify improvement opportunities that would not have been possible without their deep knowledge, such as the complete automation of certain processes.

So while this was a BPR project, it was really the start of a change management journey for the organisation. After all, envisioning a future system for a modern, digital workplace requires a shift in mindset today.

Maish Nichani, co-founder, PebbleRoad
Maish Nichani

I enjoy helping organisations achieve their potential in an ever-changing and complex world. I lead product and transformation conversations.

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