Change Management
An Essay on Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)

Business process re-engineering (BPR) began as a private sector technique to help organizations fundamentally rethink how they do their work in order to dramatically improve customer service, cut operational costs, and become world-class competitors. A key stimulus for reengineering has been the continuing development and deployment of sophisticated information systems and networks. Leading organizations are becoming bolder in using this technology to support innovative business processes, rather than refining current ways of doing work. Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is basically the fundamental rethinking and radical re-design, made to an organization existing resources. It is more than just business improvising. It is an approach for redesigning the way work is done to better support the organization’s mission and reduce costs.


Strength of BPR

One particular strength of BPR is its demand for the clear identification and reexamination by an organization of its essential and core process, a profound and crucial analytic activity, performed with the objective of achieving organizational realignment around clearly stated and attainable goals. Another strength of BPR is its recognition that the IT aspects of an organization, like the personnel aspects, cannot be granted a peripheral status as an optional extra and left in the hands of the “domain experts”.


Weaknesses of BPR

Re-engineering has earned a bad reputation because such projects have often resulted in massive layoffs. This reputation is not altogether unwarranted, since companies have often downsized under the banner of reengineering. Further, reengineering has not always lived up to its expectations. The main reasons seem to be that reengineering assumes that the factor that limits an organization’s performance is the ineffectiveness of its processes (which may or may not be true) and offers no means of validating that assumption. Other criticisms on BPR concept include:

  • It never changed management thinking, actually the largest causes of failure in an organization.
  • Lack of management support for the initiative and thus poor acceptance in the organization.
  • Underestimation of the resistance to change within the organization.
  • Implementation of generic or best-practice processes that do not fit specific company needs.
  • Over trust in technology solutions.
  • Performing BPR as a one-off project with limited strategy alignment and long-term perspective.


The biggest difference between BPR to other techniques in improving company performance is that BPR is a major, radical and revolutionary change. In almost all cases, it is business strategy that drives BPR, i.e. the business determines the need or option to implement or not to implement BPR. The experiences of companies that have undertaken BPR have shown that it is an expensive affair, have turned companies radically into new entities, caused extensive changes to the working environment, changed work processes, its staff, its organization, the company culture and many more. BPR is a major transformation and not a series of small increments in a company’s improvement process.


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