Business Process Reengineering a Sustained Trend?: An Analysis About the Practice in Major German Companies

Business Process Reengineering a Sustained Trend?: An Analysis About the Practice in Major German Companies

Thomas Hess (Institute for Information Systems and New Media at the Munich School of Management, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany) and Dagmar Schuller (Glam Media, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0249-6.ch014
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Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is an important aspect of Business Process Management. The concept of BPR has been widely discussed in the past decade; however, it remains undetermined how prevalent the applications of Davenport, Hammer and Champy’s ideas are, especially with respect to their relevancy for actual business practice. This paper analyses which ideas of BPR actually have been implemented in practice many years after the “hype”. Based on a survey, the BPR-practices of major German enterprises listed in the German stock market are investigated. The study indicates that BPR is important in practice, although not all ideas of BPR seem to be wholly implemented. Especially the ideas of radical redesign of business processes and the process-oriented organizational structure could not be confirmed by the survey.
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Business Process Reengineering (BPR) in general is a specific management approach aiming to enhance business processes by elevating their efficiency and effectiveness. BPR was among the preeminent concerns of management theory and practice in the 1990s. Sparked off by a number of successful individual cases the idea achieved rapid popularity. Additionally, every major consulting company implemented BPR practices within their service portfolio. The main focus of BPR was based on radical and project-based reengineering of cross-departmental processes that are critical for corporate success (so-called business-processes) being able to lead to drastic improvements of corporate performance. As a rule, this would be achieved by a forceful implementation of new possibilities of information and communication technologies. Empirical studies at that time swiftly showed, that BPR-Projects did not necessarily and automatically achieve the envisaged ‘quantum leaps’, in some cases, however, substantial increases in performance were possible. Although the ideas of BPR were highly praised, the approach was barely mentioned within literature or in association with business cases by the end of the 90ies. This raises the question, whether BPR could effectively establish itself within business practice, or whether it should rather be considered a theoretical framework with low practical impact.

Based on these premises the Institute for Information Systems and New Media at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (Germany) conducted a study investigating the BPR practices of major German corporations. Background and design of the study are described in the next chapter followed by the presentation of the most important results of the study. The last chapter summarises the main findings of the study, outlining practical business implications and future research areas.

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