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 about Business Process Reengineering.

Quotes on Business Process Reengineering
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Best Practices

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

🥇 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 (...)
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🥈 What Knowledge is Required for BPR?
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🥉 Mental Transformation Required to Implement Business Process Reengineering
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BPR is needed in Ethiopia
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ERP and Business Process Reengineering
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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? (...)
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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. (...)
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Business Process Reengineering Types
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Is BPR Useful for Small Companies (SMEs)?
Can BPR be used in small and middle size companies as well? (...)
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Selective Application
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1 reactions

BPR Works only Top-Down
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Maintaining the Quality of a BPR Programme
How can quality be maintained during a BPR inititiative? (...)
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Reward Management During Business Reengineering
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Alignment of BPR and IT Solution Approach
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BPR supported by TQM
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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 (...)
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Business Process Reengineering can be abused
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BPR is Like A Pipeline Through Pour Water
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Required Management Skills
BPR requires highly skillfull management and deep knowledge of what needs to be done. Is it possible to do BPR with less (...)
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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 radi (...)
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Developing a Standard Framework for BPR
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Business Process Reengineering and Downsizing
Why should BPR proceed downsizing? (...)
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Business Process Reengineering = People
In BPR the people are the process and they are central to the success of any innovative change. (...)
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BPR needs Positive Thinking
BPR doesn't need a special management skill, rather it needs positive thinking and a changing way of thinking. (...)
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BPR: Process Improvements versus Cost
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BPR is not an End, but a Means
BPR is not an end, it is a means to an end. (...)
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BPR Through E-Governance Initiatives
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Is BPR Helping ERP or is ERP Helping BPR?
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Business Process Reengineering in Agriculture
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Cases and Causes of BPR Failure / BPR Disasters
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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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Comprehensive Step by Step BPR Approach

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BPR Guidelines by Hammer

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How to Re-engineer the Process Flow?

Guidelines and Ideas for Process Redesign (...)

Leadership Strategies for Change

Initiate, implement, develop and sustain change (...)

Using Appreciative Inquiry to Improve Business Processes

Alternate Approach (...)

Innovating Bottom-up or Top-down

Corporate Innovation Approaches (...)

Business Processes by Goal

BPM Categories, BPM Types, BPM Classification (...)

BPR Key Success Factors

BPR, Best Practices (...)

Morris & Brandon's BPR View

Organizational Change (...)

Harrington's Business Process Redesign

Lower Impact and Less Risky BPR (...)

Business Processes by the Way they Develop

BPM Categories, BPM Types, BPM Classification (...)

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

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Supply Chain Processes to Consider

Business Process Redesign, Supply Chain Management (...)

Business Processes by Focus Area

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Types of Change. Classification

Change Management, Organizational Change, Expected/Unexpected Change, Incremental/Radical Change (...)

Davenport's BPR Approach

BPR Implementation (...)

How to Lead an Innovation Team

Best Practices, Innovation Team Management (...)

Process Analysis and Diagnosis Techniques and Tools

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Remember to Focus your Improvement Efforts?

Achieve More With Less, Kaizen, BPR, JIT, Lean, Value Chain (...)

The Role of IT in Business Process Reengineering

BPR, IT (...)

The Process Vision

Process Approaches, Organizational Development, Organizational Change (...)

Typical Improvements by Leveraging Information Technology

BPR, IT (...)

The Human Factor in BPR and Continuous Improvement

The Attitude of People is Key (...)
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Business Process Reengineering. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

In-depth Overview of Business Process Reengineering

BPR Introduction Business Process Reengineering (...)

Business Process Management and Improvement: Six Sigma, BPR and (R)Evolutionary Change

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22 Best Practices in Change Management

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BPR Implementation in Europe

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Introduction to Service Management

Initial Understanding of the Difference Between Service Management and Systems Management (...)

Interview Hammer: Why Business Process Redesign?

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The IRSPNID Framework for BPR

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BPR Diagram

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3-Minute Summary of BPR

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Compare BPR with:  Outsourcing  |  Change Phases  |  Catastrophe Theory  |  Organic Organization  |  Core Group Theory  |  Appreciative Inquiry  |  Positive Deviance  |  Forget Borrow Learn  |  Planned Behavior  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Kaizen  |  Value Engineering  |  Value Stream Mapping  |  Change Management  |  Six Change Approaches  |  Managing for Value  |  Dimensions of Change  |  Eight Attributes of Management Excellence  |  Five Disciplines  |  Ten Principles of Reinvention  |  Fourteen Points of Management  |  Blue Ocean Strategy  |  Bottom of the Pyramid

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