Business Process Reengineering has gained a considerable
attention in the world of change management during the
past years. While more and more organizations embark on
the BPR trend it can be concluded, that the theoretical
bedrock for BPR falls rather short of the concepts ambition
of being a solution for a multiplicity of problems that many companies suffer from.
This thesis is intended to provide a theoretical framework
for BPR by linking the concept to existing theories within
marketing, organization theory and informatics.
It is estimated that
between 50% and 70% of reengineering efforts fail to achieve the goals set for them and figures from evaluations of TQM indicate the same results [STEWART93].
Even though impressing results have been achieved, the high rate of failure leads to an immense waste of resources in many organizations. This waste might be avoided, if change agents would gain genuine knowledge about the concept they are struggling with. According to my opinion, the reasons for failure can be found in the following areas: 1) BPR has no solid theoretical bedrock.
2) The methods used may be inadequate.
3) Projects are performed inappropriately.
The following list includes some of the terms used as synonyms for BPR:
• Business Reengineering
• Business Process Reengineering
• Business Process Redesign
• Business Process Improvement
1.2.2. Relating BPR to theories
The BPR concept is, as it has been mentioned above, an integration of theories from a multiplicity of disciplines. A multidimen-sional approach, considering the
premises and assumptions from
all three areas had therefore to
be used. However,
interdependies are not only
found between BPR and each of
the theoretical areas, even the
source areas are highly
interrelated and can not be
considered as single entities, but
as a network of theories,
together building a theoretical
bedrock for the BPR concept.
2. What is business process reengineering?
2.1. Michael Hammer's definition of BPR
According to Michael Hammer, one of the BPR gurus and founder of the term itself, BPR is
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. [HAMMER93]
This definition is one of the most cited ones and can be found in a considerable number of journal articles.
Furthermore, Hammer considers four keywords within that definition as being the most relevant ones, as there are:
Two questions are considered as being fundamental and are adressing the companies justification of existence: What are we doing? and Why are doing so? As Hammer points out, forcing people to question the way they do business leads to rules turning out to be obsolete, erroneous and inappropriate. Reengineering means starting from scratch, no assumptions given and no current fact accepted and determines firstly what a company has to do, and secondly how to do it.
Radical redesign of business processes means getting to the root of things, not improving existing procedures and struggling with suboptimizing. According to Hammer, radical redesign means
disregarding all existing structures and procedures and inventing completely new ways of accomplishing work.
Reengineering is no way for achieving marginal improvements and fine-tuning. It is intended to achieve heavy blasting.
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Process-orientation is considered as being the most important aspect of BPR. Hammer claims, that most companies are focussed on tasks, people and structures rather than processes.
Despite this rather populistic definition, the following paragraphs will provide a more humble definition of the BPR-concept and a brief description of a sample methodology.
2.2. The history of reengineering
As it has been mentioned, BPR focusses on redesigning work processes to enhance...
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