Business Process Re-engineering’s Come-back

Pace of literature being published about Business process re-engineering, one of the most talked about phenomena of 90’s seems to have gone down in past few years. But recent downturn across the globe has created perfect environment for BPR to make a comeback in a big way.

Business process re-engineering has been defined by many researchers in their own words but definition given by Hammer and Champy(1993) is still referred to a lot, according to them: “Re-engineering 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[1].”
his article discusses the factors that are critical for success of a business process re-engineering project, and also why this is the perfect time to undertake such projects.

Critical success factors for a BPR project
There have been many researches in the past to find out critical success factors for a BPR exercise. Factors suggested by Hammer and Stanton have pretty much been the basis of most of such studies done in this area. These factors are:
1.Re-engineering Leadership
2.Organizational Readiness
3.Style of Implementation

Lets examine these factors in detail and see which of these factors are the most relevant, when it comes to re-engineering in these times.

Re-engineering Leadership
This signifies leader’s vision and commitment to the project. Since changes involved are radical in nature, and concentrate on processes instead of people, so such changes are often met with a lot of resistance from employees at all levels. To overcome this you need someone from top management to lead the project from front because heads of all the functions involved won’t be willing to give up their autonomy.
How relevant is this factor in these times?

Almost all companies would be thinking of re-engineering their process in current turmoil , of course, reasons would vary from company to company.

1.Companies that have been badly impacted and whose survival is endangered (if this downturn continues for long) are looking for radical changes in the way they do business. These companies want quick response from their re-engineering projects.

2.Companies that have been mildly impacted, or have not been impacted by this downturn need to reengineer themselves for 3 reasons:

1.To guard themselves against long term impact of this downturn

2.To grab the market share of the companies that have been wiped out of picture because this downturn

3.To consolidate their businesses, and prepare for the good times that will follow this downturn

Almost all the companies have been forced to take up re-engineering projects to make their survival viable in long term. Even those companies that have not been impacted need to take a fresh look at their processes and prepare themselves for future.

So this time, the mandate to re-engineer has been forced on almost all companies, and the top management is not left with any option but to ensure that processes are re-engineered in the best interest of the company.

Organizational Readiness
Organizational readiness is the existence in the organization of an open attitude toward re-engineering, the capability to make the changes needed and the resources required to support the process.

How relevant is this factor in these times?

Desperate times call for drastic measures, and there haven’t been more desperate times than this in past several decades. Organizations definitely have the attitude to re-engineer and sail through the current turmoil but, resources and capabilities might not be present within the organizations.

But resources and capabilities are not a constraint anymore as both of these can be arranged, from outside the company. There are enough agencies who can bring in the capabilities and execute the BPR projects for its clients.

As far as monetary resource are concerned bailout packages from governments, and declining interest rates have made it easier for organizations to raise money. Companies can also use these resources and invest in building in house capabilities to carry out successful re-engineering projects.

Style of Implementation
Style of implementation covers aspects such as the need for the re-engineering project to be scoped correctly, for project participants to be empowered to make changes and management systems to be put into place before the implementation of re-engineering projects.

The scope of the process chosen for redesign must be well defined in terms of cost improvements or increases in customer value for it to improve performance across the organization.

How relevant is this factor in these times?
With almost 2 decades in practice, there are enough proven methods which can be followed to make the re-engineering projects successful. Also, with lesser business activity happening these days, this is a perfect time to devote all the organizational energy towards re-engineering processes.

Agencies that undertake BPR projects on contractual basis are available in large numbers these days. Organizations can avail their services to carry out a successful re-engineering project.
Technology, which is another very important tool for carrying out re-engineering, is also available easily these days. With open-source business process management and re-engineering tools, come best practices evolved over the years, at very little cost

Need for re-engineering is at all time high and so is the supply of resources for carrying out these projects. Companies should embark upon this journey before its too late for them.
If an organization is not convinced with its capabilities to carry out such project on its own then, there is enough professional help available in the market these days.

1.Hammer,M., Champy.J., (1993), Re-engineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution., Harper Collins, London.
2.Murphy F., Seddon P., Staples S. (2000), Testing Hammer and Stanton’s Re-engineering
success diagnostic., Australasian Journal of Information Systems, Melbourne.