Business process re-engineering (BPR) is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business process to achieve a dramatic improvement in measures of performance such as quality, cost, speed and services.
i) List the steps of BPR.
ii) Critically examine the role information technology (IT) plays in BPR
1. Steps of BPR
Business Process Re-engineering refers to the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve a dramatic improvement in measures of performance such as cost, quality, service and speed. It is a process of reorganising work so as to achieve a change, which would result to improvement.
The steps involved in Business Process Re-engineering are: –
i) Recognising the need for change in organisational design
Senior managers most in fact recognise whether re-engineering is really necessary and whether it would result to disruptive effect to the organisation. Organisation and people need some degree of stability in order to accomplish their tasks however, re- organisation may be necessary and failure to change may have a disastrous effect.
ii) Identifying the method of redesigning the organisation
The management may have at its disposal a variety of methods of redesigning and each alternative must be brainstormed so that the best alternative is achieved and chosen. The technique chosen should meet the needs of the organisation I reacting to the external environment and identify what process will provide the greatest productivity in the organisation.
iii) Unfreezing the status quo
The current processes, benefits the individual persons as well as the design of the organisation must be unfrozen. Any resistance to change organisational staff must be reduced.
iv) Moving to a new design and adopting new processes
Managers with authority to command that the new processes should be adopted and enforce their implementation threats, punishments or close supervision. People implementing the change should make suggestions and should be encouraged to contribute and participate.
v) Re-freezing the old status quo
Persons involved in BPR should be convinced that it is their own and organisation‘s best interest. To accomplish this positive reinforcement such as praise or reward and punishments for those who revert to old processes should be instituted.
2. Role of information technology in BPR
Information technology can broadly be defined as the convergence of computer technology and communications technology. Information technology plays the following roles in Business Process Re-engineering:
1. The technological change with information systems is rapid and is likely to be superseded every few years with something even better thus organisations are forced to consider a policy of regular replacement of their systems. This may essentially involve a complete redesign of the information systems through business process re- engineering through utilisation of information technology.
2. The organisation may pursue a re-engineering process so that managers have access to more information which is likely to be more accurate reliable and up to date. To achieve this information technology is inherent in the design of management information systems, for example, planning and control of the production department, for instance can be enhanced with such systems as Just In Time (JIT), Materials Requirement Planning (MPR), Computer Aided Designs and Computerised Stock control.
3. Business Process Re-engineering is aimed at achieving dramatic result in fundamental aspects of the business. In this case, strategic issues with the organisation looking for ways to gain competitive advantage can be reaped from information technology. This aims at attaining business maturity and the information technology function is seen amore as a support function.
4. BPR could be aimed at improving customer service and information technology can provide just that especially since staff can handle customer queries accessing the organisation‘s data files.
5. The conventional ways of data processing especially manual systems have resulted in enormous backlogs and low processing of routine transactions. This can lead to the rethinking of management and the redesign of data processing processes to ensure speed and greater accuracy through the introduction of information processing technology introducing computer systems.
6. BPR results in increased decentralisation in the organisation wheregreater autonomy of individual subsystems is achieved. Information technology can be a vital tool in this aspect allowing employees to share information in the database through networking.
7. BPR also helps in the reduction in the number of controls and this can be achieved through the help of information technology. This is because the management of data is improved and security precautions enhanced.
8. Empowerment of workers in decision-making and greater responsibility can be achieved through BPR. Information technology can be vital in this area, for example, through end user computing. Also, computer based information systems such as Decision Support Systems and Expert Systems can be utilised less experienced staff members in making decisions of great quality.