Process Re-Engineering Success in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Process Re-Engineering Success in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Jeffrey Chang (London South Bank University, UK), Margi Levy (University of Warwick, UK) and Philip Powell (University of Bath, UK and University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-892-5.ch020
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The factors that lead to business process re-engineering (BPR) success in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not clearly understood. This article reviews the main contributing factors to BPR success using a framework that considers culture, structure, technology and resource. Eight Taiwanese case studies are used to explore issues contributing to, or impeding, successful process re-engineering in small firms. The analysis shows that BPR success is empowered by innovation, employee empowerment, top management commitment and strategic direction and is dependent upon customer relations, IS involvement and financial resources.
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Nature Of Bpr

BPR is ‘radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements on critical measures of performance’ (Hammer, 1990). BPR emphasizes horizontal integration that crosses organizational boundaries - the analysis and design of work-flows and processes within and between organizations (Davenport, 1993). The main elements of BPR are fundamental work process redesign, adding value to final customers, integration of cross-functional specialization, and exploitation of IT. The challenges of BPR initiatives are both technical and socio-cultural. It is technically problematic to develop radical process improvements. The socio-cultural challenge is in dealing with people’s reactions to the likely serious organizational changes required (Reijers & Mansar, 2005; Sarker et al., 2006).

Many factors are inherent in successful BPR. First, top management commitment is important to ensure the initiative is maintained and focused. Second, re-engineering focuses on providing customers with greater value (Cameron & Braiden, 2004). Third, re-engineering places a major emphasis on employees and their role in resolving problems (Larsen & Myers, 1999). Process improvement involves changes to jobs and the social structure to increase motivation, reduce stress and improve performance by empowerment (Wastell et al., 1994). Fourth, IT is an enabler in creating and maintaining flexible business networks (Tinnila, 1995). Finally, a BPR strategy is key, incorporating critical inputs from both corporate and IT planning (Teng et al., 1994; Talwar, 1993). However, as BPR involves changing the firm’s competences, it is more likely to be successful if it is emergent, benefiting from organizational learning (Craig & Yetton, 1997).

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