The Critical Success Factors of Business Process Re-Engineering

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According to Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei, (1851-1853), the business process Re-Engineering (BPR) in large scale is known to have “dramatic improvements” due to its “radical design.” Nevertheless, BPR can be explained to be; the overall change of a business, the reshaping of business processes without constraining them, management and technology systems, the structure of a company and its values and finally to gain quantum leaps in order to maintain proper performance of a business (Crowe, Fong and Zayas-Castro 490). One of the ways in which a BPR project can be successful is by meeting the set objectives of for a long duration. Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei, (1851-1853) noted that there are various reviews where 70% of BPR projects are considered to have failed. Therefore, most organisations do not find using BPR in projects useful (Vergidis, Tiwari and Majeed 69). Abdolvand, Albadvi, and  Ferdows, (497) opined that the BPR is risky and consequently research was done to find out the factors which contribute to its success or failure. These factors are known as the critical success factors (CSF) of the BPR (Bandara, Gable and Rosemann 347; Ariyachandra and Frolick 113).

In a study conducted through interviews and data analysis by the use of Shannon’s entropy technique, the following factors were considered the critical success factors (CSF) for BPR. The first CSF is culture. Culture has been considered as an important factor in BPR during the implementation of literature. (Crowe, Fong and Zayas-Castro, 490; Salimifard, Abbaszadeh and Ghorbanpur 95). Some of the standard features involved in an organisational culture include employee co-ordination, friendly conversations, and involvement in the organisation's tasks. Moreover, when the company listens to the employees, expected results are likely to be achieved more efficiently.

Secondly, leadership is another critical success factor involved in BPR. The existing literature recognises the important role of the BPR efforts according to (Ahadi, 1-19). Moreover, leadership in controlling, monitoring and driving activities is significant. One major failure in business process change is obstacles in leadership. Leadership includes the following actions in the organisations; elimination of political issues in the company, offering compensations to the employees and solving conflicts in the firm. Additionally, it only takes place through senior management effort which leads and makes an impressive start in the implementation of leadership (Ahadi, 1-19).

Communication is another factor which is known as the interaction between various people who belong to different functional departments and levels. Additionally, transmission can occur when an environment for exchanging ideas is created. In these places, open meetings are held using various types of media to collect information and distribute it to the responsible parties. When an organisation has the necessary communication, projects are implemented efficiently and facilitated during deployment. Moreover, Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei, (1851-1853) noted that the insecurities and fears which make the employees be resistant and unwilling to change are cleared.

Information technology is considered a significant factor during the implementation of BPR and therefore, a good infrastructure of IT is recommended. The IT department is crucial since it is where most BPR projects begin (Crowe et al., 490; Salimifard et al., 95). Information technology acts as a catalyst for the processes and reduces the margin of error, therefore, enabling the organisation to increase productivity (Reijers and Mansar 283).

According to Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei, (1851-1853), methodology is a factor which refers to the collection of techniques, procedures, and tools developed for setting up the life cycle of a project making it achieve its objectives while decreasing the difficulties and problems it faces. Mansar, Marir, and Reijers (113-124) noted that recently, there had been several methodologies that have been developed to support the process projects.

Another factor is project management that forms part of the most substantial problems faced by organisations during the implementation of the project if it is not suitable. The project involved should have well-outlined milestones and a schedule which is detailed (Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei 1851-1853). The resource management also forms a crucial part of the project which includes technical resources, human resources and financial resources (Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei 1851-1853). Moreover, the roles played by the various stakeholders in the business should be made clear. Risk management can also be considered as a significant part of managing the project (Khong and Richardson, 54).

De Bruin and Rosemann, noted that strategic alignment of BPR is considered to be "the continual tight linkage of organisational priorities and enterprise processes enabling the achievement of business goals." When re-engineering objectives are kept according to a strategic direction, the organisation benefits in that it can acquire long-term advantage (Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei 1851-1853). Nonetheless, BPR can be considered as a tool which is necessary for executing the strategy (De Bruin and Rosemann).

The H. people factor includes people who are considered significant elements during the change in the business process and is conducted by the workers available in the company. Paper and Chang, (121-133) noted that resistance would occur if employees do not agree with the change. Therefore, resistance to change can make the BPR project fail. Employees in an organisation should change their attitude and learn ways in which they can work with functional boundaries while accepting the responsibilities they are assigned. Moreover, people are supposed to learn how to combine work with other efforts to enable them to achieve expected results (Jeston and Nelis). Maymand Mohammad, and Mollaei, (1851-1853) noted that the people’s softer attitude and behaviour changes are significant while training with new tools and incorporating methods to use in new processes.

Finally, there is the performance measurement factor which monitors the progress of the BPR projects to ensure that set objectives are met. Literature related to the BPR is supposed to emphasise the importance of performance measurement systems for the workers. Additionally, these systems should have rewards and incentives which connect to the process with oriented concepts for the company (Paper and Chang 121-133).

Globalization and liberalization of trade markets have created new conditions in the market place that are characterized by increased competition and instability within the business environment (Borgianni 135). Competition, specifically has increased in every aspect, such as price, quality and customer engagement. Moreover, technological innovations and emerging markets have also significantly increased competition. These changes have imposed the need for organizations to transform their entire processes and structure.  The business process reengineering comes in here as it provides organizations with the flexibility to adopt to the changes in the global competitive environment. As such, the paper aims to perform critical literature review on business process reengineering steps and tools.

According to Anand, et al. (125), business process reengineering (BPR) is a wonderful concept that has the ability to save a company that is in trouble, lead it to survival and then growth. There are a number a number of reason as to why organizations pursue reengineering; such as, to increase sales effectiveness, improve product quality, incorporate new technology and improved customer service. Before undertaking BPR companies must carefully analyze their existing systems and ensure it is the only way out, because it is an extremely expensive and risky endeavor that is not often guaranteed to work out. BPR involves radical changes to the organization that are made to create drastic improvements. It focuses on a total overhaul of the entire organizational processes from conceptualization to the final stage.

Business process reengineering steps

Implementing BPR is a major undertaking and organizations need to develop a proper framework or steps on how to overcome the challenges.  Such a framework was presented by Mohapatra, et al. (453), which consists of six steps on successful implementation of BPR. The first stage, which the author argues is critical, is for the senior management to understand their objectives and why they are significant. Also, it is vital that the management to show their undying commitment towards the initiative.  The second step, requires the management to provide a clear vision that will steer everyone in one direction. Thirdly, the framework requires that all the existing processes within the firm be careful evaluated to uncover weaker areas and set a baseline for the BPR initiative. The fourth step involves the conducting of pilot studies and the effectiveness of the proposed changes, which then provides the background for the fifth step that is the actual implementation of the BPR project. The (author) reaffirms that the fifth stage is very important because it requires the management to not only educate the employees on the modified reward system, the new IT systems, and the new company structure but also, provide leadership for effective integration. To prevent resistance, a continuous and structured communication plan should also be put in place. In the sixth and final step the authors encourages careful evaluation and monitoring of the BPR project to identify areas that require modification.  

In the same line Victor and Stephen (5), researched on devising a model that will assist organizations select appropriate BPR framework. The authors realized that many enterprises are undertaking BPR as a result of stiff competition and an evolving business environment. As such, the availability of ready information and tools that suits the organizational needs during the planning phase of BPR is vital for a successful implementation. The authors stipulates that the best way to achieve success was through business process modelling (BPM), which is a technique for analyzing different business processes. There are numerous techniques that help organizations design business process models; however, there are few such methods exist for BPR. The authors insist that selecting a BPM framework that directly complements the organization’s objectives and BPR.  Thus, the authors identified three forms of business process that can be used to select an effective BPR. One of the process that they considered vital for a successful BPR project was the organization’s operation and production, which vary from one company to another making it an important factor.

Meanwhile, Curtis et al (56), identified common perspectives of BPR modelling, that is, behavioral, informational, organizational and functional. The authors are of the opinion that these factors need to be well understood before undertaking a BPR project. What’s more, the authors also underpin the significance of understanding different processes, mapping and evaluation tool. However, according to Harmon (39), it is wise for organizations to always explore various models instead of concentrating on one which is because by assessing multiple options, it is easier to select one that best suits the organization. Furthermore, the steps for selecting BPM framework should rely on specific pre-defined objectives with a clear perspective for reengineering. Therefore, the author agrees with previous authors discussed in the literature that and classified the steps into three categories: communication (clarity on reason for change and in terms of process), analysis (analyzing the organization and identifying areas of concern) and control (involves monitoring of BPR).

Another important step to consider as a critical factor in successful implementation of BPR is adequate IT Infrastructure. Pattanayak and Supriyo (472), advocate for the use of information technology to challenge existing assumptions engrained in business processes before the emergence of communication technology and IT. Information technology is considered by many researchers as an important component of a successful BPR project.  According to Flynn (45), effective integration of IT infrastructure to BPR strategy, increasing IT competency and effective use of software tools are vital steps that leads to a successful BPR project. Therefore, for BPR to be effective it must be accompanied by a strong strategic plan combined with IT and used to gain the organization a competitive advantage. The two concepts irrevocably linked and it is impossible to successfully implement BPR without having a quality IT program.

Business process reengineering tools and techniques

Tools and techniques can be used to resolve, asses and structure emerging challenges that BPR may raise. It is therefore important for organizations to select the mast appropriate tools and techniques that ensure their BPR project is successful. Essentially, a BPR project has these characteristics; it simultaneously pursues improvements in quality, cost and production time, it is process oriented, obliterate current practices, and strongly leverages on technology. Because of its wide scope and wholesome changes that BPR causes, they are costly and risky endeavour a business can undertake. In fact, according to Ghanadbashi and Raman (29), over 80 percent of businesses that pursue it always turn out unsuccessful. It is for such reason that businesses are interested in an approach that offers better odds. Particularly, the tools and techniques that facilitates a disciplined and structured manner of resolving the challenges brought about by BPR projects.

Many BPR projects rely on various tools to successfully implement a project. According to Luca (233), by using the BPR tools organizations often expect to complete project quicker, grow productivity and more emphasis on building quality products and services. Moreover, the authors highlights six categories of BPR techniques and tools. First off, the author the authors point out to project management tools that are basically used for planning, tracking, and budgeting. Examples of such tools include the Microsoft project and Harvard Project Manager. The second category of tools is coordination tools that are used to disburse plans and communicate updates of projects, example include Emails and bulletin boards. The third category the author highlights is the modelling tools, which are used to make models of various thing to provide a better understanding of its quality and structure.  The category is filled with Computer-Aided Software Engineering (CASE) toolsets.

Additionally, the fourth category includes Business Process Analysis tools, which are used to systematically divide a business into little constituents and then examine their interaction. The author reiterates that the tool is an effective way of establishing areas of weakness within the whole system. Another significant tool used in BPR is the Human Resources Analysis and Design, which establishes the social aspect of the reengineering process and they include skill assessment and team building subcategories. Finally, the author introduces his last category, which is system development that automates the entire reengineered business process.

Kasemsap (403), however, takes a different approach as he looks at the learning, integration and cost challenges associated with BPR tools. He argues that any business considering BPR toolset must comprehensively look at these three issues. While it may appear easy to learn, it is not; particularly, given the ever evolving nature of technological changes that one day may bring a toolset that requires new ways of thinking and another toolset may require different toolsets. What’s more the authors stipulated that toolsets are easier to use if they a similar look and feel, which typically does not require one to learn sets of interface. However, a BPR may have several interfaces that can take a long time to learn and fully integrate.

To sum up, BPR is a universal method that is quickly gaining popularity among business; however, literature shows a lack of agreement among researchers as to how best to approach it (Serban 81). Different authors have developed their own individual tools and methodologies regarding how best to overcome the challenges. Nonetheless, the concept has a huge potential and further inclusive research that will generate universally acceptable methodology and tools needs to be conducted.

Works Cited

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January 19, 2024


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