In today’s turbulent and complex business environments, the focus has shifted from products to services. As a result, services have become a new battleground for competition; and processes, a weapon of war. Organizations wishing to boost their competitiveness need to focus on desired customer outcomes by redesigning business processes through effective use of advanced ICTs and the creativity of their human assets. Organizational reinvention of structure, people, and ICTs are driven by the CKM strategic change with a purpose of adding value to both customers and business firms. Reinventing organizations has the potential to create more flexible, team-based and integrated work activities, both internally and externally, to allow customers to be linked intimately to the business, to improve their experiences, and ultimately to develop enduring and profitable relationships with them. This chapter explores the last part in reinvention, viz. the role of business process redesign in CKM.
Business processes are valuable corporate resources since they directly support corporate business strategies. In the era of highly competitive and dynamic marketplaces, services and managing business processes for optimal performance are essential for the achievement of successful business strategies. Business processes, therefore, need to be managed and reengineered like other business resources in order to achieve typical goals of process design like productivity, quality, efficiency, flexibility and conformance with formal and legal rules such as ISO 2000. Business process redesign, a narrow definition of BPR, is a strategic action that targets business processes, rather than complete transformation of the enterprise, and should be conducted with a clear understanding of the company’s vision, strategy, and competitive directions in customer processes and/or services with respect to market opportunities and challenges.
Despite many years of restructuring and downsizing through process automation, many companies have not obtained the improvements needed. This can be attributed to companies leaving the existing processes intact and only using computers to automate and speed them up, without addressing their fundamental performance deficiencies. Many job designs, work flows, control mechanisms, and organizational structures were developed for operational command and control rather than for strategic competitive purposes. Companies need to use the power of the computer not to automate outdated processes, but to radically ‘reengineer’ business processes (Hammer, 1990). Only through streamlining business processes can companies gain remarkable improvements in operational performance, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.
This section provides a theoretical background to BPR. It examines the following elements: the need for business process orientation (BPO), the anatomy of a business process, the concept of BPR, pillars of BPR, principles of BPR, results of BPR, followed by an example of ICT-enabled BPR, integrating KM into BPR, and the context of CKM for BPR.