Business process reengineering is a program that systemically breaks down the process a business uses and starts over with new, more efficient methods -- basically a redesign or a reboot. A business process is a collection of procedures, steps or activities the business uses to get the product from development to the customer. Businesses use BPR for various reasons, including to cut costs and improve overall production, but the program also has its drawbacks.
The aim of BPR is to help businesses pinpoint obsolete steps, items or workers in a business process. For example, the business may discover during reengineering that only two workers can get the job done that four workers were performing. BPR encourages employee input and participation, as the workers who have familiarity with the processes under study can point out flaws and voice ideas for improvement.
BPR typically requires an investment, particularly in technology. Outdated methods, such as doing a task by hand, face replacement by computer programs. The programs improve efficiency and reduce errors, but the company must invest in the software and training, a costly option for companies looking to cut expenses immediately. Not all business types benefit from BPR. For example, a manufacturing company may not have the option of redesigning processes without sacrificing safety or product quality.
Cuts Costs and Improves Functionality
Removing unnecessary steps cuts down on time and confusion among workers. Assigning tasks that multiple workers would typically handle to one worker gives customers a clear point of contact for help or service. Even by investing more money in technology at the start, companies typically save money over time with the redesigned methods. For example, improving or updating electronic components incurs an up-front cost, but saves money over time by eliminating errors due to outdated components.
May Lower Worker Morale
Some workers may not adapt to the BPR changes, and those assigned new responsibilities can become overwhelmed. Other workers become obsolete if their primary function is eliminated as part of a process overhaul. Management must provide support and guidance during BPR. Failure of the management team to assist workers and set an example during the BPR process may lead to failure, disorganization and staff problems.