Representation Type Preferences in Operational Business Process Redesign: A Quasi-Experimental Field Investigation

Representation Type Preferences in Operational Business Process Redesign: A Quasi-Experimental Field Investigation

Ned Kock (Texas A&M International University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jsita.2011040104
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Abstract

This paper reports on a quasi-experimental field study in which business process redesign groups in four different US organizations used two different business process representation types. One of the representation types emphasized an activity flow (or workflow) view of business processes, which appears to currently be the most prevalent in actual operational-level business process redesign projects; the other emphasized a communication flow view. The study suggests that, contrary to assumptions likely underlying most of the current business process redesign practice, communication flow-oriented representations of business processes are perceived by those involved in their redesign as significantly more useful in the following aspects than activity flow-oriented representations: identification of opportunities for process improvement, application of process redesign guidelines, visualization of process changes, and development of generic information technology solutions to implement new business processes. Important implications for managers and researchers stemming from these results are discussed.
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Research Background

The broad area of business process redesign and management has been a fertile area of research, with or without a strong focus on information technology (IT), particularly in the last 15 years (Baskerville & Smithson, 1995; Newkirk et al., 2008). Many important research issues have been addressed, and many relevant research questions have been successfully answered. Harmful misconceptions regarding process redesign have been exposed (Davenport & Stoddard, 1994), and the role of IT as an enabler of new redesigned processes has been identified and explained (Cunningham & Finnegan, 2004; Venkatraman, 1994). Key preconditions of process redesign success have been identified (Bashein & Markus, 1994; Clemons et al., 1995; Teng et al., 1998), approaches to assess success have been proposed (Berente et al., 2009; Börjesson & Mathiassen, 2004; Davenport, 1993), and related change management techniques have been studied and validated (Kettinger & Grover, 1995; Stoddard & Jarvenpaa, 1995). New methods and automated tools for process redesign have been proposed (Nissen, 1998), and successful approaches for implementation of new process designs have been identified (Grover et al., 1995).

In spite of the progress above, some areas of research in connection with process redesign have received relatively little attention. One such area is that of process representation approaches and their impact on the outcomes of process redesign projects (Katzenstein & Lerch, 2000). This area arguably needs its share of research attention, since the way processes are looked at is likely to strongly influence the way in which they are redesigned (Berente et al., 2009).

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