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  • BPR, from Thomas Davenport and Michael Hammer, appeared in the early 90s with the aim of redesigning whole processes, even whole organisations
  • BPR was said to be needed when a dramatic and perhaps unexpected change highlighted an organisation’s weaknesses e.g. a hostile take-over bid, the loss of a major contract, market share suddenly decimated – major change was urgent, hang the risks
  • BPR was ‘the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve quantum leaps in critical measures of performance’ 


  • BPR started with current products or services offered and asked how you would provide them if you were to start from scratch
  • You had to ask ‘why do we do what we do at all’ and identify wasteful activities, especially those that had nothing to do with meeting customers’ needs
  • BPR tended to focus on core operational processes leaving other corporate and supportive processes to continue as before, efficiently or inefficiently
  • BPR could involve major organisational upheaval and result in job losses, even though that was not its stated aim, so it was generally unpopular with workforces
  • Some organisations, like direct insurance companies, made great gains by employing new processes and technology to drastically reduce order cycle times and administration costs
  • But most judged BPR took too long (like TQM) so organisations soon lapsed into their ‘old ways’ – it was too radical for them, so they looked elsewhere for improvement



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