Analysing and Applying Business Process Reengineering
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In the first part of this assignment the meaning of business process reengineering (BPR) is analysed. In more details, it is outlined how business processes might be reengineered to improve company or organizational performance. The themes covered are:
The importance of BPR in organizations
The objectives of implementing BPR
The specific techniques that can be used (like process mapping)
The required training
The possible problems in implementation (like resistance)
As about the second part, a critical evaluation is made concerning the statement of McCabe (2004: 851): "BPR does not challenge hierarchical authority, but instead attempts to reconfigure authority and power relations so as to obscure them through the language of consensus". In this section of the assignment it is critically evaluated the proposition that BPR in fact does very little to question the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control and in several important respects simply reinforces them.
ANALYSIS OF PART 1.
The term of BPR
Today the business world is characterized by unpredictable changes, under the global competition and the customers' demands. To be successful in such an environment, a firm must operate with speed, flexibility, low overheads and a clearly defined customer focus. The term business process reengineering (BPR) refers to an approach that is used by organizations seeking improvements in their business performance (Anonymous, 2007).
The importance of BPR
There is a series of driving forces, which trigger companies to undertake reengineering projects. These are customers, competition, change, cost, technology and shareholders and they lead to a requirement of new organizational structures and an alteration of the traditional way of doing business. Organizations consider BPR as an important tool of organizational improvement, as it helps them achieve the radical change necessary for today's volatile business environment. Additionally, BPR stresses the importance of linkages within an organisation. Though its structure integrated processes are generated concerning the nature of people's jobs and how people are grouped and organized in the working environment. What is more, through BPR people's jobs become multidimensional instead of narrow and traditional task orientation. When the concept of process is promoted in the BPR, cross boundary teamwork is incorporated and process shifts the goal focus on performance measurement and managerial responsibility from a function or responsibility center to an activity derivative process concept. So, BPR defines process teams as an important element in the business environment where work becomes multidimensional, substantive and more rewarding (Anonymous, 2007).
It can be concluded that the importance of BPR is found at the fact that it is a dynamic tool for improving operations. BPR provides a process view of the organisation and a way of improving processes. Using this approach a company will be organized based on processes. As a result, processes are simplified, flows are improved and non - value added work is eliminated (Schroeder, 2000). BPR is a complete life cycle approach. This provides the scope for problem identification and also solutions to implement the successful business operations. BPR can significantly improve cost, quality, service and speed simultaneously, so important results are provided to customers (Thyagarajan and Khatibi, 2004).
It can be supported that organisations should focus on BPR for three key reasons: Firstly, there is much to be gained by improving business process. Secondly, business processes can be controlled and finally business processes are comparatively more important than production processes (Anonymous, 2007).
The objectives of BPR
BPR is a fundamental element in improving business performance and profitability. The BPR objectives refer to:
improved operational performance, by closing performance gaps
improved competencies, by closing skill and competency gaps
reduced costs and manpower savings, by application of management analysis tools and techniques
improved customer services or employee quality of life
increased customer satisfaction
increased productivity in the workplace
continuous improvement of services' quality
delivered quality goods at competitive prices in a timely fashion
The technical tools used in BPR
There are different improvement techniques that can be adopted to analyse the BPR. These techniques enable the organization to understand, simplify and improve processes that already exist, not only to meet, but also to exceed the expectations of customers and provide a coordinating discipline for overall performance improvement (Anonymous, 2007).
The selection of technical tools for BPR depends upon:
(i) the nature of decision areas,
(ii) the nature of data to be analysed, and
(iii) the background of users.
Table 1. The specific techniques that can be used in BPR
Areas to be reengineered
Techniques used in BPR
Decision support system and Knowledge-based models
Business process system design
Analytical models such as queuing and simulations models
PERT/CPM and Flow Charts
Reengineering business process
Activity-based analysis and workflow model including flow chart
Design of information system for reengineering business process
Object-oriented models and programming
Understanding of the business process system
IDEF Models, EFQM Models, Petri-Net Models
(Gunasekaran and Kobu, 2002).
Process Mapping is a technique known as Process Charting or Flow Charting and is one of the oldest, simplest and most valuable techniques for streamlining work. It is one of the fastest ways to lower errors, increase productivity and affect customer service. It generally follows these steps:
Choose a process.
Assemble a team.
Map out the way work is currently done.
Identify problem areas.
Evaluate action steps.
Create a master plan.
Process Mapping is an important tool in examining work flow and customer - supplier relationships, which is the foundation for appropriate improvements. Additionally, it is a cost - effective training tool for everyone interesting in increasing the efficiency of their organization and improving communication. (Damelio, 1996).
Many organizations use this technique as a part of their reengineering projects, as it provides a variety of benefits (figure 1).
Figure 1. The main benefits of implementing process mapping technique
(Image available at the website http://www.google.gr, accessed 8-10-2010)
The BPR training
Implementing successfully BPR in an organisation's environment is not an easy task, as the appeared changes require changes in attitudes and deep involvement of workforce both in individual and team level. As a result, the fact that a major aspect of BPR is human factor, it makes obvious that appropriate training is required in order to implement successfully BPR in the business environment. Companies should ensure that their employees are suitably motivated and the technology required for training is available in implementing BPR.
Training is one of the most frequently used approaches to changing the organisation's mindset. A company might offer the suitable training programs so as to effectively implement BPR processes (Daft, 2006)
According to White (2010) business process reengineering education and training can come in a variety of ways, including:
Learning more about process design at a graduate level.
Using online continuing education options for further education.
Attending seminars that cover various aspects of business process reengineering.
The possible problems in BPR implementation
Various radical changes occur when BPR takes place. Hammer and Champy (1993, cited in Anonymous, 2007) have listed the various kinds of changes that occur when a company re-engineers its business process.
A shift from functional departments to process teams
A reversal of the power relationship: from superordinate to subordinate empowerment .
Today markets are characterized by a high flow of information and companies face competitive business environments. Under this reality, organizations must follow effective strategies concerning change management (Robbins, 2001). BPR has to do with improving company or organizational performance, so its implementation requires the changes mentioned above - often in a rapid way of implementation - in attitudes and deep involvement of workforce both in individual and team level. These changes often refer to redefinition of chart's structure and/ or redesign of the workforce's roles and responsibilities. The new situation can bring resistance to change, so managers should examine carefully the way BPR implementation will take place. Managers should support understanding and trust concerning the new situation and minimize uncertainty within the workplace.
The suggestions for dealing with the possible resistance to change are the following:
Determining the goals of BPR implementation.
Establishing a clear view about the changes that will occur in the workplace.
Applying a direct communication method between managers and employees
Checking the procedures of re-engineering, so as to deal with possible problems and find solutions.
Focusing on performance measures and compensation shifts
Enhancing customer focus as about value change
Showing an appropriate management behaviour, through control and supervision
Under these suggestions the changes in the business process, lob and structures, management and measurement systems, values and beliefs will result in a flatter organizational structure. As a consequence all the aspects (people, jobs, managers and values) are linked together and the organization will become more responsive in BPR implementation (Anonymous, 2007).
ANALYSIS OF PART 2.
In this section it will be critically evaluated the statement of McCabe (2004: 851): "BPR does not challenge hierarchical authority, but instead attempts to reconfigure authority and power relations so as to obscure them through the language of consensus".
In order to make this evaluation, it is essential to introduce the issue of hierarchical authority in an organization's environment. Hierarchical structures are present in most organizations today. Smaller organizations may have only two levels, while larger ones may have a vast number of levels. These structures are used as a method of communications and as the lines of authority. In an organizational environment, the hierarchy mainly apart of a singular/group of power at the top with subsequent levels of power beneath them. Members of such structures chiefly communicate with their immediate superior and with their immediate subordinates. Hierarchical authority structures are providing the opportunity for greater decision-making width for individuals and more flexible definitions of job activities. This is a challenge to existing organizational forms (Zhao, Rosson and Purao, 2007).
In a hierarchical organisation employees are ranked at various levels within the organisation, each level is one above the other. At each stage in the chain, one person has a number of workers directly under them, within their span of control. A tall hierarchical organisation has many levels and a flat hierarchical organisation will only have a few (Anonymous, 2010d). At figure 2 a traditional hierarchy is given.
Figure 2. A traditional hierarchy diagram
(Hierarchical Organisation, available at the website http://www.learnmanagement2.com, accessed 18-10-2010)
It is obvious that hierarchies within control systems are a clear need for business environments. Without some form of hierarchy, a low level of control can create numerous problems in an organization. There ate two kinds of control systems: flat and hierarchical. Hierarchical architectures have a more indirect coupling of perceptions to actions through a hierarchical control structure. Both kinds of control systems have benefits, but hierarchical structure can support faster learning and a better way to deal with resistance to change (Digney, 1998)
Control is a fundamental managerial function. It is the process of regulating organizational activities so that actual performance conforms to expected organizational standards and goals and ensures that necessary corrective action is taken. In fact, control is ensuring work accomplishment according to plans. It is a process of ensuring that activities are producing desired results. We can support that control is an executive function involving three elements, i.e., standards, evaluative and corrective action. BPR is the latest wave in a series of management initiatives to increase managerial control (Gupta, 2010).
According to the issues covered in the analysis of part one of this assignment, business process reengineering is proved to be a revolutionary, radical change approach to improving organizational performance through transformation. BPR methodologies aim for a flatter organizational structure, promoting the development of empowered process workers who are encouraged to use information technology in radically new ways to carry out business operations. In BPR approaches, empowerment is inflicted by leadership changing worker values and through the use of information technologies enables managerial control. Empowerment through BPR does not necessarily release control but does change the way control is exercised. Authority is still enforced through hierarchical control of culture. The reengineering approach polishes the management of power relations, when attempts are made to change traditional power structures and everyday power relations through the flattening of the hierarchy (Sayer and Harvey, 1997).
The introduction of reengineering introduces a new relationship of power in the form of a discipline which the reengineering sustains through discourse control. In this new situation any discipline comes with its structures, its hierarchies, its inspections, exercises and methods of training and conditioning (Foucault, 1980, p. 158). BPR is an approach that supports transformation with the notion of producing the flatter organization. Hierarchy and control are still promoted and within BPR, the emphasis lies on changing the formal patterns and using mechanisms of control to change the informal (Sayer and Harvey, 1997).
BPR is a strong tool of managerial control. Controlling is the fourth function of management process (the other functions are planning, organizing and leading). Through BPR managers can identify whether the organization is on target towards its goals and can make better corrections if necessary. In BPR, information technology is generally considered as playing a role as enabler of new forms of organizing and collaborating. New information technology can help managers provide needed organizational control without strict top - down constraints. A representative example is that of Cisco Systems: By using information technology to coordinate and monitor several aspects of operations, the company keeps tabs on employee and organizational performance without maintaining daily authoritarian control over workers. Cisco employees have amazing freedom to make decision and take actions, but they also know that top managers keep a close eye on what is going on throughout the company (Daft, 2006).
Most businesses try to take advantage of BPR concerning dealing with the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control. BPR assumes radical redesign of business processes. Many processes simply can not be further improved in small steps and require a complete redesign in order to improve them in a major way. Hierarchical control is a fundamental element in this effort and managers who desire to organize around outcomes, have people processed their own information, put the decision point where the work is performed and build control into the process, should support the view that BPR can reinforce the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control.
BPR is a management system of forced, speedy culture change, highly linked to hierarchical control. In fact it does very little to question the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control and in several important respects simply reinforces them.
Business Process Reengineering includes changes concerning both structures and procedures defined in a business environment. Human, organizational, technological dimensions that characterize an organization can change through BPR. Using this approach, organizations can seek improvements in their business performance.
As it was analysed at the first part of this assignment, organizations consider BPR as an important tool of organizational improvement, as it helps them achieve the radical change necessary for today's volatile business environment. Additionally, BPR stresses the importance of linkages within an organization. What is more, through BPR people's jobs become multidimensional instead of narrow and traditional task orientation. In result, the importance of BPR is found at the fact that it is a dynamic tool for improving operations.
BPR is a fundamental element in improving business performance and profitability. The main BPR objectives refer to improved operational performance, improved competencies, reduced costs and manpower savings, improved customer services or employee quality of life, increased customer satisfaction, increased productivity in the workplace, continuous improvement of services' quality and delivered quality goods at competitive prices in a timely fashion.
There are different improvement techniques that can be adopted to analyse the BPR. Among them, Process Mapping is a technique known as Process Charting or Flow Charting and is one of the oldest, simplest and most valuable techniques for streamlining work. It is a cost - effective training tool for everyone interesting in increasing the efficiency of their organization and improving communication and is highly preferred by enterprises today.
Implementing successfully BPR in an organisation's environment is not an easy task, as a major aspect of BPR is human factor. So, companies should ensure that their employees are suitably motivated and the technology required for training is available in implementing BPR.
Various radical changes occur when BPR takes place, so managers should carefully examine the strategies in change management so as to achieve the best efficiency and deal appropriately with the possible resistance to change that BPR will bring.
The second part included a critical evaluation of the statement of McCabe (2004: 851): "BPR does not challenge hierarchical authority, but instead attempts to reconfigure authority and power relations so as to obscure them through the language of consensus". According to the relevant analysis, within control systems are a clear need for business environments. Without some form of hierarchy, a low level of control can create numerous problems in an organization. Hierarchical structure can support faster learning and a better way to deal with resistance to change, so BPR supports the management initiatives to increase managerial control. . In BPR approaches, empowerment is inflicted by leadership changing worker values and through the use of information technologies enables managerial control. Empowerment through BPR does not necessarily release control but does change the way control is exercised.
Most businesses should try to take advantage of BPR concerning dealing with the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control. This is because BPR is a management system of forced, speedy culture change, highly linked to hierarchical control. In fact it does very little to question the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control and in several important respects simply reinforces them.
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