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The Impact of Information Systems on Business Process Design (or Redesign), Managerial Roles, and the Changing World of Work

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Business Process design and reengineering is a radical shift in an organization’s strategic thinking and approach towards institutionalization of better and efficient systems and processes. Effective business process results in enhanced productivity levels. One of the many benefits of business process is the quantification of strategy so that each step therein can be measured and improved upon.

Today’s commercial and regulatory climate makes the need for a controlled and efficient IT function an essential part of any business.

Organizations of every size rely on the availability, dependability, security and performance of their IT systems and services. In addition outsourced and offshore resource models are increasingly popular to gain cost and service efficiencies. As a result, many IT organizations have turned to Industry best practice frameworks such as ITILÐ'® and Prince II to provide a baseline model for operating practices and help the business to reengineer his process to reach the efficient way to deliver the best service or products to his loyal customer.

The reengineering profoundly changes all aspects of business and people. Part of the organization is easy to change by reinventing a way to work. However, the other part, people, is very difficult to change. In particular, it requires not only jobs and skills change but also people's styles - the ways in which they think and behave - and their attitudes - what they believe is important about their work. These are indispensable factors to determine whether reengineering succeeds or not. Leaders must help people to cope with these changes.

The adoption of information technology (IT) in organizations has been growing at a rapid pace. The use of the technology has evolved from the automation of structured processes to systems that are truly revolutionary in that they introduce change into fundamental business procedures. Indeed, it is believed that “More than being helped by computers, companies will live by them, shaping strategy and structure to fit new information technology” While the importance of the relationship between information technology and organizational change is evidenced by the considerable literature on the subject.

In coming up with such standard methodologies, it will ensure that the business process reengineering efforts will at least meet a certain level of clients' expectations and quality of results. Furthermore, using the streamlined business processes as benchmarks against complex enterprise software will ascertain that the decisions made on future software investments are well informed and hence chances of successful implementation of the IT systems are greatly enhanced.

This paper traces the background or history of BPR, challenges and how IT affects the Business Process Design and increase the efficiency of the work flow.


Business Process Design and Re-engineering has been a management concept since the late 1980s. Its popularity was greatly accelerated by an article published by Hammer in the Harvard Business Review. The BPR strategy propounded by Hammer focused on organization and management changes to bring about radical business improvements. Another school of thought championed by researchers such as Davenport and Venkatraman advocated the use of IT as an important business process enabler leading to significant improvements in productivity. However, most of the BPR research works in the early and mid-1990s were strategic in nature, pioneered largely by the business management gurus from Harvard and MIT and focused mainly on radical organizational changes.

Many of these strategic management approaches do not relate the formulation of company strategies to their deployment via the company business processes at the tactical and operational levels.

The advent of BPR software tools in the later half of the 1990s provided a feasible and comprehensive means of modeling and evaluating complete virtual enterprises in terms of their organization, business processes, information and material flows, and the IT systems design and their functionalities. The primary goal of such a complete and detail modeling process is to ensure that IT-systems as enablers are strategically aligned with the business goals and strategies of the enterprise.

The emergence of such BPR tools has transformed BPR from being uniquely a management approach to include reengineering of current tactical and operational company practices and the formulation of performance measures that can be easily tracked upon implementation of enterprise IT systems.

Recently, emerging key technologies like Internet and Web-centric technologies have radically transformed the way in which businesses are carried out. Many start-up companies have been hurriedly set up, and many failures have been reported.

With a structured and proven approach, both for business process reengineering and for enterprise software selection, the likelihood of successfully implementing highly-complex enterprise-wide software systems is greatly enhanced.

The New World of Business

From the end World War II to nowadays, the market structure has changed tremendously. With trade barrier falling, competition intensifies by oversee competitors. The market is driven by customers because of excess suppliers.

Customers take charge and demand products and services that are designed for their unique need. As the needs and tastes of the customers change constantly, the nature of change has also changed; it has become both pervasive and persistent. Under the of notion of the division of labor principle that divides process into small and clearly defined tasks, classical business structures are no longer suitable in a world where competition, customers and change demand flexibility and quick response. A good example to show this is order-fulfillment. It starts when a customer places an order and ends when the goods are delivered.

The process typically involves a dozen or so steps that are performed by different people in different departments. Clearly, there are no customer service and no flexibility to respond to special requests. No-one is responsible for the whole process and can tell a customer when the order will arrive. Furthermore, the order passing across different departments makes the process error-prone and also delays progress at every hand-off. There are still many further problems. In particular, people working in different departments look inward and upward toward their boss and department, rather than outward toward



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