Business Process Reengineering

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Business Process ReengineeringThe Business Process Reengineering method (BPR) is described by Hammer and Champy as 'the fundamental reconsideration and the radical redesign of organizational processes, in order to achieve drastic improvement of current performance in cost, services and speed'.

Rather than organizing a firm into functional specialties (like production, accounting, marketing, etc.) and to look at the tasks that each function performs, Hammer and Champy recommend that we should look at complete processes. From materials acquisition, towards production, towards marketing and distribution. One should rebuild the firm into a series of processes.

Value creation for the customer is the leading factor for BPR and information technology often plays an important enabling role. Compare: Relationship Marketing


Michael Hammer and James Champy

The main proponents of re-engineering were Michael Hammer and James Champy. In a series of books including Reengineering the Corporation, Reengineering Management, and The Agenda, they argue that far too much time is wasted, passing on tasks from one department to another. They claim that it is far more efficient to appoint a team who perform all the tasks in the process.

A five step approach to Business Process Reengineering

Davenport (1992) prescribes a five-step approach to the Business Process Reengineering model:

  1. Develop the business vision and process objectives: The BPR method is driven by a business vision which implies specific business objectives such as cost reduction, time reduction, output quality improvement.
  2. Identify the business processes to be redesigned: most firms use the 'high-impact' approach which focuses on the most important processes or those that conflict most with the business vision. A lesser number of firms use the 'exhaustive approach' that attempts to identify all the processes within an organization and then prioritize them in order of redesign urgency.
  3. Understand and measure the existing processes: to avoid the repeating of old mistakes and to provide a baseline for future improvements. Compare: Scientific Management
  4. Identify IT levers: awareness of IT capabilities can and should influence BPR.
  5. Design and build a prototype of the new process: the actual design should not be viewed as the end of the BPR process. Rather, it should be viewed as a prototype, with successive iterations. The metaphor of prototype aligns the Business Process Reengineering approach with quick delivery of results, and the involvement and satisfaction of customers.

As an additional 6th step of the BPR method, sometimes you find: to adapt the organizational structure, and the governance model, towards the newly designed primary process.

Generic Circumstances that influence whether BPR is advisable

Although it is difficult to give generic advice about this, some factors that can be considered are:

  • Does the competition clearly outperform the company? Compare: Turnaround Management
  • Are there many conflicts in the organization?
  • Is there an extremely high frequency of meetings?
  • Excessive use of non-structured communication? (memos, emails, etc)
  • Is it possible to consider a more continuous approach of gradual, incremental improvements? (see: Kaizen).

Critics of the BPR approach

Reengineering has earned a bad reputation because such projects have often resulted in massive layoffs. In spite of the hype that surrounded the introduction of Business Process Reengineering, partially due to the fact that the authors of Reengineering the Corporation reportedly bought huge numbers of copies to reach the top of the bestseller lists, the method has not entirely lived up to its expectations. The main reasons seem to be that:

  • BPR assumes that the factor that limits organization's performance is the ineffectiveness of its processes. This may or may not always be true. Also BPR offers no means to validate this assumption.
  • BPR assumes the need to start the process of performance improvement with a "clean slate", i.e. totally disregard the status quo.
  • BPR does not provide an effective way to focus the improvement efforts on the organization's constraints. (As done by Goldratt in the Theory of Constraints).
  • Sometimes, or maybe quite often, a gradual and incremental change (such as Kaizen) may be a better approach.
  • BPR is culturally biased towards the US way of thinking. (see: Cultural Dimensions)

BPR compared to Kaizen

When Kaizen is compared with the BPR method is it clear the Kaizen philosophy is more people-oriented, more easy to implement, but requires long-term discipline and provides only a small pace of change. The Business Process Reengineering approach on the other hand is harder, technology-oriented, it enables radical change but it requires considerable change management skills.

Book: Hammer and Champy - Reengineering the Corporation

Book: Davenport - Process Innovation

Special Interest Group

Business Process Reengineering Special Interest Group.

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Forum discussions about Business Process Reengineering. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

topic Costs of BPR - Any ideas?
Hoping that someone can point to some reference providing info on how much a BPR activity would cost -- some percentage of overhead expenses??...
Comments3 comments
topic Maintaining the Quality of a BPR Programme
How can quality be maintained during a BPR inititiative?...
Comments1 comments
topic Business Process Reengineering and Downsizing
Why should BPR proceed downsizing?...
Comments3 comments
topic Business Process Reengineering = People
In BPR the people are the process and they are central to the success of any innovative change....
Comments2 comments
topic Transition to a Paperless Office: Best Practices
The "Paperless Office" has been a buzz word in office culture for 3-4 decades now. More and more organizations and departments within organizations are attempting to go paperless. It is likely that Co...
Comments3 comments
topic BPR is not an End, but a Means
BPR is not an end, it is a means to an end....
Comments1 comments
topic Public Sector BPR Through E-Governance Initiatives
In the public sector field of a government like India, implementing a 100% BPR would be difficult. Because the waste processes & positions identified out of such exercises would be of greater portion ...
Comments3 comments
topic BPR needs Positive Thinking
BPR doesn't need a special management skill, rather it needs positive thinking and a changing way of thinking....
Comments2 comments
topic The Role of AI in BPR
What do you think is the role of Artificial Intelligence (big data, self-learning software, digital networks, algorithms) in Business Process Reengineering? Is it a catalyst or does it replace BPR?...
Comments1 comments
topic Cases and Causes of BPR Failure / BPR Disasters
Hello, I'm doing research on BPR failure cases. Unfortunately, I can't find any cases to illustrate my research. Could you please tell me where I can find this kind of cases? Thank you in advance....
Comments5 comments
topic Is BPR Helping ERP or is ERP Helping BPR?
I am a PhD student and my area is BPR. I just want to know your expert opinion (just general) regarding the relationship of BPR and ERP. It is a fact that BPR uses technology for efficiency however, ...
Comments7 comments
topic Business Process Reengineering in Agriculture
How to start BPR from clean sheet for large and very old agri industry? Any effective guide line? Thank You!...
Comments2 comments
🔥 BPR Maturity Level Assessment for Completed Project and Project Proposal
I am writing a dissertation on measuring the maturity level of projects under the BPR umbrella: 1. Completed project (in construction sector) 2. Completed proposal (for an ERP system) I understand ...
Comments1 comments

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Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about Business Process Reengineering. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

🥇 Quotes on Business Process Reengineering
Do you know some deep, famous or funny quotes on Business Process Reengineering? Quotations? Proverbs? Please share them as a reaction to this posting and mention the author. To get started, here's my...
Comments4 comments

🥈 What Knowledge is Required for BPR?
The underlying assumption on BPR presented in this article is "task completion through unified team effort". But how is this possible in the practical business world? There aren't any group of member...
Comments1 comments

🥉 Mental Transformation Required to Implement Business Process Reengineering
BPR is a tool for making a fundamental, radical & dramatical change but what is most important is the mental transformation required to implement it. I believe if we understand it we can bring a revo...
Comments1 comments

topic BPR is needed in Ethiopia
I believe BPR is an important change management tool. It is a radical tool. You can't help or solve all the bureacratic mess created on customers with any other tools - be it Kaizen , TQM, etc. Th...
Comments11 comments

topic The Role of HR in Business Process Reengineering (BPR)
We already know BPR is not about IT only. But I'd like to find out what can or should be the role of HRM (Human Resource Management) in effective BPR implementations? Thanks for sharing your thoughts...
Comments26 comments

topic ERP and Business Process Reengineering
Business process reengineering involves radically changing the status quo to fulfil customer's expectation and keep them coming back. This involves change management thinking and implementation of org...
Comments7 comments

topic Cases of Successful BPR Implementation / BPR Success Stories
Can you point out companies who were successful in BPR implementation? And what is the success rate of these projects? I am currently doing my thesis on this topic. Any assistance would be appreciate...
Comments1 comments

topic Faster and more Flexible than BPR - Alternative Approaches?
Is there any other alternative to BPR? Something that is more flexible, faster and with less work than BPR....
Comments9 comments

topic BPR Works only Top-Down
I am a BPR envangelist and in my experience BPR is only effective if it starts from the top, i.e. when senior managers accept the challenge to first revamp their mental models of management before the...
Comments4 comments

topic Is BPR Useful for Small Companies (SMEs)?
Can BPR be used in small and middle size companies as well?...
Comments7 comments

topic Reward Management During Business Reengineering
More often than not, Kenyan organizations in need of adapting to changes in the competitive business environment fail to satisfy the needs of the diverse groups of employees within the company. Many e...
Comments5 comments

topic Alignment of BPR and IT Solution Approach
I am conducting research as part of a Masters degree on the combination of business process change methodologies i.e. radical and continuous improvement and IT solution approach such as Commerical Of ...
Comments7 comments

topic BPR supported by TQM
After we implement BPR on the ground we should use TQM as a continuous improvement tool or cal it Kaizen or other tools to maintain the system and satisfy the "moving target" customers needs....
Comments4 comments

topic BPR in agricultural research?
Is BPR applicable for the agricultural research sector? Is there anyone in the world who can share me the experience how to reengineer the agricultural research system?...
Comments3 comments

topic Developing a Standard Framework for BPR
After reviewing literature, I think that there exists no standard process of BPR. Every company redesigns its processes in its own way. I believe different cultures, strategies and organizational str...
Comments3 comments

topic Personal Business Process Reengineering?
Would anyone help me with one doubt here, can the concept of BPR be implemented in anyone’s personal life to have a radical change? Or is BPR specifically for business need only?...
Comments5 comments

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about Business Process Reengineering. Here you will find professional advices by experts.


Comparison Kaizen vs. Innovation

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List of Reasons for Business Process Reengineering Failure

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Success Factors of BPR

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Morris & Brandon's BPR View

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Harrington's Business Process Redesign

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Business Processes by the Way they Develop

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Considering the way that processes may develop, we can differentiate them into the following 2 types of processes: A. D...

Comparison TQM and BPR | Comparing Total Quality Management versus Business Process Reengineering

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Compare TQM and BPR: Similarities in TQM and BPR: - Both TQM and BPR are customer-oriented. They both aim on im...

Supply Chain Processes to Consider

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Critical value chain activities where various process components are typically scattered across several functional depar...

Business Processes by Focus Area

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Types of Change. Classification

Change Management, Organizational Change, Expected/Unexpected Change, Incremental/Radical Change
Organizational change varies along at least to dimensions (expected-unexpected and incremental-radical) and can be manag...

Davenport's BPR Approach

BPR Implementation
Hammer's and Champy's original BPR concept, testified in their numerous publications, has been lately developed and miti...

How to Lead an Innovation Team

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In order to become a great innovation team leader, Ram Charan suggests in the article "P&G's Innovation Culture" (strate...

Process Analysis and Diagnosis Techniques and Tools

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Remember to Focus your Improvement Efforts?

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The Role of IT in Business Process Reengineering

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The Process Vision

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A business process is a set of interrelated activities targeted at a defined and measurable result that adds value to th...

Typical Improvements by Leveraging Information Technology

Business Process Reengineering is considered a key tool for improving the efficiency of an organization in accordance wi...

The Human Factor in BPR and Continuous Improvement

The Attitude of People is Key
In their book “Learning Organizations: Knowledge Management Theories, Models and Case Studies”, Italian F. Azzariti and ...
Information Sources

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In-depth Overview of Business Process Reengineering

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How Businesses can Use Information Technology (IT) in Strategic Ways

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22 Best Practices in Change Management

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BPR Implementation in Europe

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This 2006 paper analyses Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) implementation in 20 European firms. In contrast with the...

Introduction to Service Management

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In this video five several IBM experts give their views on Service Management and the difference with Systems Management...

Interview Hammer: Why Business Process Redesign?

Introduction. The Case / Main Reasons for BPR
The Business Process Reengineering method (BPR) is described by Hammer and Champy as the fundamental reconsideration and...

The IRSPNID Framework for BPR

A Framework you can Use for Business Process Re-engineering
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BPR Diagram

Business Process Reengineering
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3-Minute Summary of BPR

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