Chapter 22. Business Process Re-engineering

J. Macdonald and B. G. Dale

Introduction

Business process re-engineering (BPR) was popularized as a formal concept by the writings of Hammer (1990), Davenport and Short (1990) and Hammer and Champy (1993), but perhaps James Harrington (1987), with his emphasis on process improvement in action, was the real originator. The earlier work of Hammer and the later expanded version of Hammer and Champy tended to focus on corporate transformation, while the other influential text of Davenport and Short has a focus on business process redesign, linking the concept specifically to developments in technology and industrial engineering. Many of the first cases of BPR had a heavy focus on information technology, to enable redesign implementation.

In recent times BPR has emerged as the concept which enables an organization to take a radical and revolutionary look at the way in which it operates and the way work is done, and references to it abound in management and technical publications with such words as 'radical', 'dramatic', 'rethinking', 'optimize', 'redesign'. It has become popular in a short period of time, promising amazing results very quickly in relation to corporate and technological change, transformation and competitive pressures. Some writers (e.g. Born 1994) regard it is a successor to TQM, making the point that, rather than continually improving a process, BPR challenges the need for a process. The protagonists of BPR argue that it, rather ...

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