Limitations and Issues in Business Process Re-engineering

Resistance to BPR usually occurs at the levels of the junior and middle management. Person­nel in these levels have an unfounded fear that process-oriented thinking will result in the loss of power, control and authority. There are a number of common pitfalls that companies fall into while re-engineering key business processes such as:

  • Re-engineering too many processes at the initial stages: The top management may be so impressed with the achievements of BPR in other re-engineering processes that it makes the mistake of initiating this for too many processes simultaneously.
  • Ignoring everything except process redesign: Sometimes, re-engineering teams fail to address the much needed changes in job designs, management systems and re-engineered structures that are required for a successful outcome.
  • Placing prior constraints on the definition of the problem and the scope of the re-engineering effort: An example for this might be defining the problem in the context of the way the company is doing business today, not the way it will need to do business in the future. Re-engineering is not simply about making a process faster or more efficient, though ROI (return on investment), ROA (profit/assets) and ROM (management) are important measures of success.
  • Inadequate training of process owners and team members: Training plays an important role in BPR. If a company does not give proper attention to training, it is unlikely to succeed in re-engineering its business processes. The management cannot expect the desired results from the process owners and team members if they are inadequately trained.

Training in re-engineering cannot be undertaken in the form of a standard training pack­age. The trainers should have a fairly clear idea about the way the company works and the attitude of its employees towards change.

  • Delay in showing results: Undue delay in showing significant improvements in quantita­tive terms has an adverse impact on re-engineering initiatives. Such delay is likely to create an impression in the minds of people that re-engineering is a just a fad. Even the top man­agement may lose interest if a process takes long to show results.
  • Non-availability of adequate resources: A re-engineering team may come up with a bril­liant idea to re-engineer a process. The design and evaluation of the process prototype may be carried out successfully. At the implementation stage, the team members may; however, find that adequate resources are lacking. A problem of this type dampens their enthusiasm and results in the company’s inability to re-engineer the process.
  • Limited awareness among employees: In order to institutionalize process-oriented think­ing, the message to re-engineer business processes should reach all the employees. They should be aware that the management has decided to conduct businesses on the basis of processes, not tasks. They need to be given a clear understanding of the meaning of a process.

Source: Poornima M. Charantimath (2017), Total Quality Management, Pearson; 3rd edition.

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