BPR – Get Off your High Horse and Hang with the Plebs

5 Nov

A huge problem with Business Process Reengineering is how to enable a “bottom-up” participation in a top-down reform program. BPR insists on the need to restructure processes prior to structuring institutions and hierarchies, while being predicted on the assumption that the potential of IT enables innovative designs of how work is being carried out. It is hard to simply define reengineering as having one set of methods, in fact it is impossible as  Business Process Management  encompasses many strategic theories, including BPR. BPR methods often set unrealistic expectations where only inadequate resources are available. Many organisations are slow to “reengineer” due to complacency or simply due to a fear of the unknown.

A more affordable approach for most companies is to use Clean Slate Design, which involves a detailed vision for a process without concern for the existing environment. However, the implementation is done over several phased projects. Some opponents of BPR say that despite the delivery of radical design, it does not guarantee a revolutionary approach to change – a revolutionary change process might not be feasible given the risk and cost of revolutionary tactics.  Archer and Bowker’s (1995) survey with consulting companies specialising in re-engineering indicates that some factors for the failure of BPR are likely to be a lack of communication of a clear vision of the project, lack of staff participation and ownership, lack of involvement from staff at different levels, failure to instil a re-engineering culture, and lack of project organisation and planning.

BPR and Employee Involvement                                                                                                                                                                                                   In times gone by, only a small group of high-level process designers would analyse the entire situation. BPR ignores much of the proven benefits of participative work design. In recent years, more attention has been paid to the participatory mechanisms of doing BPR – the design of more detailed process activities and flows can be done by those who do the work. Employees who do the actual work are in the best position to know the detailed steps in each process. It is often stressed that although these organizations are often hierarchical and top down in approach, the communication at all levels must be managed throughout the process in a manner so that no one feels exploited or neglected (Smith, 2003). They are also most familiar with the common roadblocks and bottlenecks and the key contacts in the organization to get things done. Employees should be involved up front by inviting them to join process-mapping teams. Additionally, managers and supervisors should be kept out of the process-mapping sessions, as they have a tendency to dominate the sessions with their own “expertise.”


2 Responses to “BPR – Get Off your High Horse and Hang with the Plebs”

  1. ismisetusa November 6, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    i think your heading is completely fitting in this instance and I agree with your viewpoint of higher management and the lack of incentive given to the ‘Plebs’
    In my own posts I have continuously mentioned the lack of communication between departments yet I never saw a way of addressing it until I read your own blog and it got me thinking!

    We have seen in other modules over the last few weeks where venders are cleverly offered rewards and initiatives to ensure continued loyalty yet also ensure that vendors WANT the success of the company as it will benefit themselves.

    I never understand why companies would go through such effort to ensure the loyalty of a 3rd party yet not apply the same theory to their own employees.

    Well done!

  2. thestrategicblogger November 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Good post gashe2k12 you clearly illustrated the importance of an inclusive culture when commiting to business process rengineering. I have to admit that I was suprised to learn BPR designers often overlooked what I thought would be an elementory step in consulting with employees before rengineering takes place. As you state it is only through inviting end user into this process will true progress be achieved

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