Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR)

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Flickr © Kevin Dooley

Business process re-engineering (BPR) is another stage in the advancement of quality thinking. It contrasts with the gradual improvements over time of total quality management and puts forward a more radical, innovative approach. BPR has been defined by Michael Hammer and James Champy as: “The fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance such as cost, service and speed”.

BPR is essentially to do with fundamental change. One aspect is that of the ‘clean slate’ – do away with what existed before and start again. This has been compared to running an old car. You can work on it to keep going or adopt the BPR approach, which is to get a new one. Hammer and Champy put forward the following seven ‘principles of re-engineering’.

  • Organize around outcomes, not tasks. It gives one person the role to perform all the steps in a process. This in turn provides job enlargement and increased job satisfaction.
  • Have those who use the output of the processes perform the processes. An example might be employees buying their own equipment (within guidelines) without going through the purchasing department.
  • Integrate information processing work into the real work that produces the information. Those who collect information should have responsibility for processing it (eg. statistical information through to final report).
  • Treat geographically dispersed resources on a centralized basis. Technology is increasingly making this approach workable.
  • Link parallel activities instead of integrating their results. The use of cross-functional teams, simultaneous engineering and early supplier involvement are examples of integrating activities.
  • Place the decision point where the work is performed and build control into the process. Educate workforce and allow IT supported decision making to the more empowered workers.
  • Gather information once and at the source. Avoid the mistakes of inaccuracy of data capture from the outset.

BPR must have top-management support to succeed. Owing to its radical nature, if resistance is encountered the champion or leader must be prepared to enforce change, even to the point of ruthlessness. After change has been achieved the role of people is paramount. They are expected to be better, and able to handle more complex tasks. This will not be accomplished without focused and appropriate ongoing training.

Asprova has the power to bend the rules and make firms think inductively and give them a competitive advantage. By implementing our advanced planning and scheduling functions, firms can pull out from traditional manufacturing thinking and embrace more modern practices such as the JIT or agile production; break down inter-departmental barriers and create harmony between sales and operation functions to improve quality and increase throughput. In essence, Asprova assists users to make extreme proactive decisions to improve their business performance.

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