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Using your knowledge of the background concepts of BPR and your expertise in IS / IT, assess the relationship between BPR and IS/IT.

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Using your knowledge of the background concepts of BPR and your expertise in IS/IT, assess the relationship between BPR and IS/IT. In particular consider what demands BPR is likely to place on the IS/IT function in a business organisation. What support is required for the kind of management approach likely to follow from it? To what extent do you believe that without effective IS/IT support, BPR is bound to fail? What evidence would you put forward for this? At the start of the 1990's another management craze hit the UK. Following closely on the heels of (perhaps unfairly discredited), Total Quality Management, "Business Process Re-Engineering" was proclaimed as the latest way to invigorate an under performing business, The message was received well in the UK where the private sector had been hit hard by the recession and much of the public sector was in need of a good shake-up. Here was a way to "transform" the business and to do so in a rather shorter time scale than the half-decade or so that TQM was alleged to take. Many businesses today recognise the need to re-shape, re-design or re-engineer their core business processes in order to remain competitive. A process can be any operational or administrative system which transforms inputs into valued outputs, typically a sequence of tasks arranged into a procedure or set of work arrangements perhaps involving various machines, departments and people. Seeing a sales order from beginning through to the end is a process. The word process is very important because most "business people" are not "process oriented". ...read more.


He said the relentless progress of microelectronics in making IT cheaper and more powerful had been combined with advances in telecommunications to transform the opportunities available to reinvent business processes, management methods and organisational cultures and structures. He likened the impact of recent advances like optical fibre technology as being equivalent to the effects on travel if the canal, railway and jumbo jet had been invented within a space of ten years. Dr Robinson pointed to Marks & Spencer (M&S) as an example of the way in which the impact of IT had changed. In the 1970's, he said, M&S had regarded computers essentially as a cost-cutting mechanism. Then it introduced electronic point of sales tills, initially to help with inventory management, and bought out its own store card rather than accept credit card. This gave the company a valuable electronic information base about its customers. It eventually used this to establish a totally new financial services business, which has the potential to compete with banks and other financial-service companies. In most companies the IS organisation has the skills to identify the applicable technologies, design, implementation and management of technology-based solutions. The IS/IT can be used to analyse existing processes and then form the basis for the development of new processes. Davenport & Short (1990) argue that BPR requires taking a broader view of both IT and business activity and the relationship between them. IT should be viewed as more than an automating or mechanizing force: to fundamentally reshape the way business is done. Davenport & Short (1990) outline the following capabilities that reflect the roles that IT can play in BPR: Transactional, Geographical, Automatical, Analytical, Informational, Sequential, Knowledge Management, Tracking and Disintermediation. ...read more.


BPR is important in focusing on the necessary inter-dependence between IS and organisational work. It proposes considering new forms of organisational structure made possible by innovations in IT. BPR and IS development require joint team approach. Risks of BPR and IS development should be shared between designers and users. Business users knowledge, skills and experience have great value. They could be helpful in IS/IT supported business re-engineering. The notion that users do not know what they want should be rejected and their co-operation with IS/IT partners should be developed. BPR could be undertaken with the express purpose of improving the quality of thinking or working life, introducing new ways of working and learning, or widening job opportunities; while a focus upon external relationships could lead to the building of capability, market or network innovation and more profitable partnerships with customers. BPR offers us the opportunity to take an integrated view of the operations and create a platform from which to grow and shape future business success. Time should be spent on learning and understanding the core business processes before embarking on any re-engineering. Management should also recognise what role IS/IT plays in BPR strategies and how it can be managed most effectively. As the technology is creating many of the opportunities opening up for new business processes, it may be inevitable that IS/IT may drive BPR to some extent. Information technology has allowed the rethinking of the way business is done. It supports both process analysis, design and change. Technology can provide the tools for organisational change. Hammer states that as much as 70% of BPR projects fail. However, IS is not seen as the primary cause of such failure, faltering support from upper management is primarily blamed. BPR by their very nature are high risk/high payoff projects. ...read more.

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