Business Process Redesign

Cite this article as:"Business Process Redesign," in The Business Professor, updated April 7, 2020, last accessed October 28, 2020,


Business Process Redesign (BPR)

Business process redesign concerns a complete overhaul of key business processes with the purpose of improving company performance measures.

Processes might include production, manufacturing, sales, and customer service, etc.

BPR seeks to achieve an improved return on investment, increased quality of service, and cost reduction.

A Little More on What is Business Process Redesign (BPR)

Process redesign often begins by questioning the way things are being done.

  • What is the reason for its existence?
  • What exactly does the organization seek to achieve?
  • What is it that is not doing right?
  • What should it be doing instead?
  • Who will help it realize its goals?

Examples of process redesign may include:

  • Expanding or reducing staff
  • Expanding or tightening a budget
  • Expansion or Consolidation
  • Increasing or eliminating layers of management
  • Altering reporting structures

Process changes may be geared towards achieving the following:

  • Reducing cycle times
  • Increasing productivity
  • Implementation of advanced technologies
  • Improving product quality
  • Restructuring and streamline
  • Achieving increased client service efficiency

Academic research on “Business Process Redesign”

The new industrial engineering: information technology and business process redesign, Davenport, T. H., & Short, J. E. (1990). The new industrial engineering: information technology and business process redesign.

The implications of information technology infrastructure for business process redesign, Broadbent, M., Weill, P., & St. Clair, D. (1999). The implications of information technology infrastructure for business process redesign. MIS quarterly, 159-182. Business process redesign (BPR) is a pervasive but challenging tool for transforming organizations. Information technology plays an important role by either enabling or constraining successful BPR. This paper explores the links between firm-wide IT infrastructure and business process change. IT infrastructure is the base foundation of the IT portfolio, which is shared throughout the firm in the form of reliable services, and is usually coordinated by the IS group. IT infrastructure capability includes both the technical and managerial expertise required to provide reliable physical services and extensive electronic connectivity within and outside the firm. Exploratory case analysis of four firms (two in retail and two in petroleum) was used to understand the ways IT infrastructure contributes to success in implementing BPR. The finding was that all firms needed a basic level of IT infrastructure capability to implement BPR. The firms that had developed a higher level of IT infrastructure capabilities, before or concurrent with undertaking business process redesign, were able to implement extensive changes to their business processes over relatively short time frames. The higher level of infrastructure capability was provided in the form of (1) a set of infrastructure services that spanned organizational boundaries such as those between functions, business units, or firms, and (2) the ability of the infrastructure to reach particular constituencies inside and outside the firm to transfer information and process complex transactions. The more extensive business process changes were more innovative and radical, crossing business and functional unit boundaries, and resulted in more significant business impact. The practical implication of the study is that before embarking on any form of BPR, managers should complete a business audit of their IT infrastructure capabilities, as these capabilities have an important impact on the speed and nature of business process change.

Best practices in business process redesign: an overview and qualitative evaluation of successful redesign heuristics, Reijers, H. A., & Mansar, S. L. (2005). Best practices in business process redesign: an overview and qualitative evaluation of successful redesign heuristics. Omega, 33(4), 283-306. To implement business process redesign several best practices can be distinguished. This paper gives an overview of heuristic rules that can support practitioners to develop a business process design that is a radical improvement of a current design. The emphasis is on the mechanics of the process, rather than on behavioral or change management aspects. The various best practices are derived from a wide literature survey and supplemented with experiences of the authors. To evaluate the impact of each best practice along the dimensions of cost, flexibility, time and quality, a conceptual framework is presented that synthesizes views from areas such as information systems development, enterprise modeling and workflow management. The best practices are thought to have a wide applicability across various industries and business processes. They can be used as a “check list” for process redesign under the umbrella of diverse management approaches such as Total Cycle Time compression, the Lean Enterprise and Constraints Management.

Beyond business process redesign: redefining Baxter’s business network, Short, J. E., & Venkatraman, N. (1992). Beyond business process redesign: redefining Baxter’s business network. MIT Sloan Management Review, 34(1), 7.

Business process redesign: tactics for managing radical change, Stoddard, D. B., & Jarvenpaa, S. L. (1995). Business process redesign: tactics for managing radical change. Journal of Management Information Systems, 12(1), 81-107. By definition, business process redesign (BPR) represents radical change in today’s bureaucratic functionally structured and managed organizations. The radical change theorists predict that to accomplish radical change requires the use of revolutionary change tactics. We propose that as the “radicalness” of the planned change increases, more revolutionary change tactics are used. We analyze the change tactics of three organizations’ BPR initiatives to understand whether and how revolutionary tactics were used. The initiatives evinced a varied amount of revolutionary tactics depending on the scope and depth of planned change. The use of revolutionary tactics also varied by the phase of the initiatives. The frequency of revolutionary tactics was highest in the early phases of the initiatives and decreased as they approached implementation. We explore the reasons for reduced deployment of revolutionary tactics. We conclude by implications to BPR practice and research.

How new is business process redesign?, Earl, M., & Khan, B. (1994). How new is business process redesign?. European Management Journal, 12(1), 20-30. Business Process Redesign is being presented as a new elixir of success to Western managers. Michael Earl and Bushra Khan examine it from four different perspectives — as a phenomenon in Western business, as an emergent management technology, as a potential laboratory, and as a new idea or an old one dressed up. The authors conclude that there are new concepts in Business Process Redesign as well as some older elements present. BPR has value to offer; the biggest challenge to managers is implementing it adequately.

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