Reengineering the Corporation by James Champy and Michael Hammer is considered as the key book in the Business Process Reengineering revolution.
It encourages organizations to take a new view at inefficient and outdated processes, and in addition to focus on dramatic improvements in cost, quality, service, and speed. Even though the message has been misinterpreted, reengineering remains a formidable tool for change.
By some it is seen as a vintage concept with a brand new label. Frederick W. Taylor’s Scientific Management advocated similar change, but at an individual rather than an organizational level. Gary Hamel noticed that reengineering followed a line from scientific management, industrial engineering, and business process improvement.
Critcism to BPR
The mechanistic theme continues to be a key focal point for critics, who have made the point that reengineering owes more to visions of the corporation as a machine, as opposed to a human system. Peter Cohan said the authors ignored the significance of people, describing them as objects who handle processes. Christopher Lorenz with the Financial Times considered that the authors neglected to state whether organizations should undertake behavioral and cultural changes in parallel with reengineering.
It has also been easy to take the book’s messages too literally. Reengineering has been seen as a synonym for redundancy, and the book has been blamed for a wave of downsizing. Based on to the authors, reengineering must focus on the fundamental rethinking and radical design of key business processes. Dramatic improvements in cost, quality, service and speed are the goal, and organizations must make key processes as lean and profitable as possible, discarding peripheral processes and individuals if required.
Objective of Reengineering
Reengineering has to go far beyond altering and refining processes: the goal is to reverse the Industrial Revolution. Organizations should begin with a blank sheet of paper and map processes to identify how their business should operate. They need to then make an effort to translate the paper into concrete reality.
BPR puts a premium on the skills and potential of the people at the center of the organization, and should also tackle three key elements of management: managerial roles, styles, and systems.