This paper summarizes the process known as business process reengineering (BPR). It considers the conditions that are favorable and detrimental to the success of a BPR and then provides a detailed description of each phase within the process. It explores who is affected within an organization by a BPR and how best to measure its success. It concludes with a summary assessment of the process.
What is Business Process Reegineering?
Business Process Reengineering is an approach that managers employ to organize and control the processes within their business (Harmon, 2007, p.xxxvii). Hammer and Champy famously described this as “the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service and speed” (1995, p.35). Organizations that undertake BPR efforts seek audacious goals such as the dramatic reduction of costs in non-core processes, reaching best-in-class levels of performance within core processes, and the establishment of entirely new levels of best-in-class performance within their industry (Mohanty & Deshmukh, 2000, p.97). For these reasons, advocates of BPR believe it to be the main way in which organizations become more efficient and modernize (Carter, 2005, ¶1).
Who does a BPR plan affect?
Perhaps obviously, a BPR plan affects those individuals and organizations who are immediately impacted by the changes that are introduced during such a process. Because BPR involves a systemic approach to improving the performance of an organization, all participants providing inputs and outputs are including in the analysis phase. This focus upon overall systemic performance means that all stakeholders may receive some windfall from the operational improvements that are introduced by a BPR plan, including senior leaders, middle managers, employees, suppliers, and customers.
When you would use BPR – and when you wouldn’t
Undertaking a BPR may be a rewarding exercise for firms during both good and bad market conditions. Organizations may seek to make their processes more efficient and cost-effective during periods of financial turmoil and uncertainty (Harmon, 2007, p.20). Similarly, during times of growth and economic prosperity, they may use BPR to expand the capacity of their processes, increasing the volume of output and enabling a firm to enter into entirely new markets (Harmon, 2007, p.20).
There are conditions that may exist within a firm, however, that significantly reduce the chances of success for a BPR effort. Greenberg suggests that if an organization places prior constraints upon the definition of its problems and the scope of the reengineering effort to address them or if it neglects people's values, beliefs, and the corporate culture in the process, it will likely fail (1996, ¶10). He goes on to say that BPRs are rarely successful when organizations that focus upon their process...