BPR is defined as:
“Reengineering is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service, and speed,” (Hammer & Champy, 1993 as quoted in Jones, Noble, & Crowe, 1997).
BPR is concerned with making changes that are radical and significant implemented to improve the overall efficiency of the business processes. Davenport & Short, (1990) refer the changes as business process redesign. The process changes, even though referred to in several terms such as business process improvement, core process design, process innovation and organizational reengineering, the central focus of all these different concepts is to bring effective and dramatic changes to the business processes to improve productivity and performance. There are different reasons like decreased efficiency of the processes, reduced market share, increased customer dissatisfaction or challenges from the competitors that induce organizations to implement BPR. Cost reduction is one of the major reasons for introducing BPR projects. In this context, the proposed research will find answers for the following research questions.
To what extent, employee participation and management commitment will contribute to the success of the BPR projects in XYZ Company Saudi Arabia?
The following are the other research questions.
- How does employees’ level of participation affect implementation of the BPR Project?
- What are organizational barriers, which impede the success of BPR in XYZ Company?
- What are the best practices that XYZ Company should adopt to ensure the success of BPR projects?
Relation to Previous Research
Over the last years, there has been an increase on the theoretical works on BPR (see for example Davenport/Short, 1990; Hammer, 1990; Kaplan/Murdoch, 1991; Davenport, 1993; Hammer/Champy, 1993). Definition by Hammer and Champy (1993) has provided a comprehensive outline of the BPR technique. Organizations are sure to become successful when they network across functional boundaries and business processes rather than depending on functional hierarchies. However, the sheer use of the latest technology on existing processes and procedures will not be an effective solution to the organizational issues.
An approach of rethinking the business activities to be fundamental to the success of business processes is the central theme of business process reengineering (BRP). “Effective redesign of business processes by removing unnecessary activities and replacing archaic, functional processes with cross-functional activities, in combination with using information technology as an enabler for this type of change will, according to the advocates of BPR lead to significant gains in speed, productivity, service, quality and innovation.” (Simon, 1994).
Business reengineering therefore includes a fundamental analysis of various organizational elements like organizational structure, job definitions, reward structures, business workflows, control processes and a reevaluation of the organizational culture and philosophy, in order to bring radical and dramatic changes in these elements to improve organizational performance. Researchers have focused on different factors contributing to the success of BPR. Davenport and Short (1990) identified reducing in the overall costs, reducing the time involved in performing the process, improving the volume of output and quality standards and improving the employee performance through empowerment and leaning as the objectives of BPR.
According to Morris & Brandon, (1993), the goals of BPR include
- streamlining the operation,
- reduction of costs,
- improving the quality of products,
- increasing the revenue,
- improving customer orientation and satisfaction,
- merging the operations acquired in the course of business.
Stow, (1993) observes that improving the organizational effectiveness, efficiency and competitiveness of the organization and enhanced profitability of the organization are the major objectives of BPR. According to Stow (1993), defining the objectives of BPR clearly is the first essential step for the success of BPR. Earl (1994) identified the implementation of BPR as the substantial challenge (p. 29).
The success factors of BPR are categorized into two broad groups – factors relating to process redesign and factors relating to change management. In respect of process redesigning there are three different categories of success factors relating to (i) process, (ii) project-team management and (iii) information technology. In respect of change management, issues the categories of success factors include (i) people oriented factors, (ii) managerial/administrative factors and (iii) organizational factors. Based on the discussion the focus of the current study will be the evaluation of the impact of employee participation and management commitment in ensuring the success of BPR.
Proposed Research Methodology
This research has been undertaken to evaluate the influence of employee participation and management commitment in ensuring the success of BPR in XYZ Company Saudi Arabia. In order to achieve its objectives, this research proposes to use qualitative semi-structured interviews among the chosen employees and managers of the company. Denzin and Lincoln (1998) state the researcher is independent to engage any research approach, so long as the method engaged enables him to complete the research and achieve its objectives.
Even though quantitative survey might prove useful for collecting the required data and information, qualitative interview method is better in view of the fact that a majority of the samples may not have the basic understanding of the intricacies of the BPR technique and its application to the organizational improvement. Qualitative research method is also referred to as a ‘naturalistic’ research (Bogdan and Biklen (1982); Lincoln and Guba (1985); Patton (1990); Eisner (1991). According to Marshall and Rossman (1995), the qualitative research is based on collection of data from different sources and the data already collected forms the basis for reporting the findings of the study and making recommendations. Yin (1984) identified different sources like “archival records, direct observations, interviews, and observation of the participants,” for data collection to conduct qualitative research.
Moreover, personal face-to-face interviews will enable the researcher to get pertinent details from the interviewees, as in the case of surveys the samples might have the tendency to answer the questions without any basic understanding. Considering the complexity of the research topic, telephonic interviews were considered ineffective, as such, interviews may take longer time and there is the potential danger of misinterpreting either the questions or answers. Therefore, the current research will employ qualitative semi-structured interviews. The number of interviews will be decided based on the strength of each department/category of employees and in any case, the number of interviewees is likely to be between 25 and 30.
Collection of Primary Data
The interviews will be conducted using the draft questionnaire containing questions on the perceptions of the respondents on the enablers and barriers of BPR in XYZ Company. The interview will be conducted in the factory premises out of the working hours at times convenient for the interviewees. The interview questions will pertain to the effectiveness of BPR for improving the performance of the company and the impact of employee participation and management commitment.
Collection of Secondary Data
According to Al-Mashari, Zahir & Zairi (2001), because of “lack of methodological research constructs” it becomes important that an in-depth review of the relevant literature is undertaken. Therefore, an extensive literature review will be attempted using professional journals and other research publications containing articles on BPR and its application to manufacturing organizations. The research will review the theoretical contributions of scholars like Knights and Willmott (1987), Hammer (1990), Steward (1993), Davenport and Stoddard (1994), Mumford (1994), Grover and Malhotra (1997), Knights and McCabe (2001), Paper et al. (2001), Den Hengst and De Vreede (2004), McCabe (2004), Paper and Chang (2005).
Since the information gathered is qualitative in nature, there will be no statistical methods used to analyse the data collected. An in-depth analysis of the factors and their comparison with the theoretical findings will be undertaken to achieve the research objectives.
The current research on the effectiveness of BPR in XYZ Company, Saudi Arabia is expected to add to the existing knowledge on the factors influencing the success of the BPR projects in an engineering company. This topic of dissertation will increase the understanding of the basic concept of BPR as well as the enablers and barriers for the successful implementation of BPR techniques. The review of relevant literature is also expected to add to the understanding of the theoretical aspects of BPR.
One of the major limitations that is to be anticipated is the response rate for the questionnaire survey. Although a reasonable level of 80 to 90% of the selected employees can be expected to respond to the questions on BPR contained in the survey instrument, a number of managerial problems and a low level of understanding among the employees about BPR is expected to affect the response rate. The employee attitude is another issue that might affect the response rate of the survey. The present attitude of the employees has resulted in carelessness among them to respond positively to any measure taken to improve the performance of the organization.
Therefore, it has to be expected that the number of employees who would cooperate with this study might be much less resulting in compromising on the validity of the findings. It may be necessary that considerable time needs to be spent on convincing the employees to cooperate by responding to the questions with their commitments. Another major concern is to collect the required information from the people at managerial positions. Managers are usually found to be uncooperative when it comes to the question of responding to surveys, claiming that they are preoccupied with other engagements.
There is another major validity issue, which is concerning the information and data collected from the respondents. The question that remains is whether all the selected respondent employees have the capability to understand the questions in their proper perspective and answer them, as their knowledge on the concept of BPR might be limited, which would affect the quality of their information. Similarly, the managers are likely to conceal material facts and respond positively to the questions. This will have a tremendous impact on the reliability of information collected through the questionnaire.
The other aspects, which need consideration, are the objectivity, ethical considerations and time constraints as these are likely to have major impact on the conclusion of this research. Confidentiality is the major ethical consideration. Since employees are always working under fear of the management, the fear will be one of the crucial aspects affecting the study. The applicability of the theoretical aspects discussed in the various literature reviewed to the Saudi Arabian context is one of the issues that need to be considered when using the review as secondary data, as there is only few literature, which have considered the Saudi context.
This research will extend to the identification of factors, which impede the success of BPR in the company and the best practices that the company need to adopt to make BPR successful. Since the concept of BPR and its application to manufacturing environment is highly complex in nature, it may not be possible to identify the organizational factors, which act as barriers to the successful implementation of BPR. However, this research will attempt to assess the effect of increased commitment by the management and understanding by the employees on the success of BPR projects. Immediately on submitting the proposal for approval, the researcher will undertake an extensive review of the literature.
On receiving the approval along with the feedback on the research proposal, necessary modifications will be done to the dissertation plan. The feedback on the proposal is a milestone in the research project, as it will drastically improve the quality of the research and the findings. Because of the prevailing situation in the chosen company and the position of the researcher to collect useful information about the working of the company, the findings of this research are expected to contribute to improving the performance of the company in the area of cost reduction and improved profitability.
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