Business process reengineering (BPR) is a management technique developed in the early 1990’s to help better analyze and design business processes and workflows. The goal of business process reengineering is to help companies rethink how they work in order to improve services, reduce costs, and become more competitive. Rather than working tirelessly to improve sub-processes, BPR was intended to be a radical restructuring of core business processes from the ground up.
History of BPR
It was in 1990 that MIT professor Michael Hammer published the article “Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate”. In this article, Professor Hammer claims that the major challenge for businesses is to eliminate processes that do not add value. Rather than eliminate non-valued work, Hammer noticed that businesses were instead using technology to automate these valueless operations. Hammer wanted to showcase that technology was being used improperly, and that value could only be found by reengineering these processes from scratch.
Perhaps the most important aspect of business process reengineering is the rapid development of Information Technology. BPR was enabled by new technologies, which helped create new ways of working. These new advancements were labeled as disruptive technologies, as they were believed to challenge traditional work methodologies and processes. Were it not for these advances, there would have been little need to consider restructuring any business processes.
These disruptive technologies include:
- Shared databases
- Telecommunication networks
- Decision support tools
- Wireless data
- Portable technology
- High performance computing
To Goal of BPR
Business process reengineering helps identify, analyze, and redesign core procedures in an attempt to improve performance, cost, quality, and speed. Interestingly, BPR does not concern itself with sub-processes, as these tend to yield only small results compared to the dramatic improvements that can be had from an entire process overhaul. The goal is simple – to redesign a process in order to achieve the greatest possible benefit.
While it has been over 20 years since Professor Hammer originally published his article, we can still see the impact that BPR has had on business improvement. More recently, BPR has been succeeded by Business process management (BPM) and business process improvement (BPI), practices which are also driven by the need for efficiency through the use of information technology. Improving business processes by eliminating needless steps is a concept that has truly stood the test of time. In fact, as long as businesses exist, there will be a need to improve.