Evaluation of a BPR project : a case study of an international shipping company

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Evaluation of a BPR project : a case study of an international shipping company


Author: Mok, Ying-kei Stanley
Title: Evaluation of a BPR project : a case study of an international shipping company
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 1997
Subject: Reengineering (Management) -- Case studies
Shipping -- Management -- Case studies
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Computing
Pages: ix, 78 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1405437
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2998
Abstract: Business Process Reengineering is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of the business processes to bring about dramatic improvements in performance (Hammer and Champy, 1993). In most literature's, researches, debates and articles about BPR, the predominant focus has been on 'process' and 'IT implications'. Very little has been done for the 'human side' of BPR although there is growing recognition that people issues can represent the difference between success and failure to achieve the anticipated gains. Also, most methodologies to date have concentrated on process and technology only (Davenport, 1993). It is found that the message of BPR tends to be distorted by many implementers who started reengineering with aim at cutting costs by making large numbers of redundant (Mumford & Hendricks, 1996). Many companies have embarked on journeys of BPR, but meantime, there is reportedly high failure rate about BPR programs. The author hypothesizes that the ignorance of people issues is the fatal mistake which endangers the probability of successful BPR implementation and impact on bottom-line profitability. This dissertation explores the theoretical framework and methodology for the successful implementation of BPR. As BPR results in innovative business transformation, changes in the way work is performed as well as the job content and skill of individuals are natural outcomes of redesign effort. It is impossible to see how BPR can 'obliterate' (Hammer, 1990) without changing how people behave within an organisation. The people issues must be placed greater analysis and integration to provide an holistic approach within BPR methodology (Horsted & Doherty, 1994). From this point of view, the author tries to adapt the generic BPR model by integrating the humanistic attribute of another work redesign approach - 'Socio-Technical Design' (STD) for the purpose of creating a 'comprehensive' model with emphasis on both social and technical sides. Using a service-oriented company as a laboratory, the applicability of the adapted BPR model is tested. The background setting is an international shipping company - ABC with its head office in South Korea. In order to thrive continuously in a increasingly competitive and dynamic shipping market, its managing director decided to launch a BPR program in a technological based approach two years ago. The aim of the program is to reform its 'obsolete' organisation by substantially upgrading its IT environment, streamlining its shipping documentation process and cutting its high overhead cost through reducing the number of staff. However, it was found that even after spending two years effort, no quantum leap in performance could be attained. The worst case is that low moral, resistance and decreased motivation were resulted. In this participative case study, the author-researcher is the section head of Intra-Asia Services Line (IAS) which is chosen as a laboratory to test the validity of the adapted model before full scale implementation is conducted in ABC. It is believed that the new BPR implementation with much concern on the people side of the process can bring more significant improvement to ABC as compared with the former BPR program. This dissertation is divided into the following six chapters: 1. The first chapter serves as an introduction to the background setting leading to the implementation of a 'humanistic' BPR for a shipping company. Also, the objectives and significance of the research are specified. 2. The second chapter summarizes the literary researches about BPR which provide theoretical support for building up a new BPR model. It is believed that the best work redesign approach might be to combine the best attributes of BPR and STD. STD can learn from BPR how to put more emphasis on efficiency and make effective use of technology when redesigning work systems whereas BPR can learn from STD the advantage of user participation and humanistic work redesign. The author hopes that a 'comprehensive' BPR model with emphasis on both social and technology sides can be developed. 3. The third chapter discusses the participative case study research methodology, and why this methodology is chosen in this research, Moreover, a BPR model with more humanistic attribute is proposed based on what have been learnt from the STD approach. 4. The fourth chapter describes the explanatory case study in which the former BPR program of ABC is evaluated. The author finds that the limited attainments of the program is mainly due to ABC's ignorance to the human side of the process. It underestimated the resistance from the employees and failed to manage their transitions during the implementation. Most employees appeared to be inactive in participating the program. 5. The fifth chapter describes the exploratory case study in which the adapted model is implemented in the shipping documentation process of IAS. In the preliminary assessment of the results, it is found that the adapted model can bring substantial improvement to the process. But its major contributions are the achievements of users' active involvement and of customers satisfaction. 6. The sixth chapter concludes the empirical experiences gained from the explanatory and exploratory case studies. Although the results cannot verify the hypothesis that ignorance of the people issues is the 'fatal' mistake in BPR, there is no doubt that failure to understand the relationship between human resources and BPR will substantially increase the probability of failure during implementation. So as mentioned before, the people issues must receive greater analysis and integration to provide an holistic approach within BPR methodology. The main findings from the research are: - By applying the adapted model, it is found that ABC can be benefited significantly by reengineering the process and that the staff have active participation in the program. Certainly, the human aspect plays a very heavy role in BPR. BPR only succeeds when it is driven from topmost levels of the organisation. But strong leadership is far from sufficient to guarantee positive outcomes. BPR still requires the team effort, and support and active participation of management and staff. Human concern is the keystone in BPR. - Resistance to change is natural to human behaviour. The reengineering efforts failed because people resisted to change. The real cause of reengineering failure is not the resistance itself but management's failure to deal with it. Putting equal weights on both social and technical systems is the best practice ensuring successful journey through BPR implementation. - IT is the central in BPR. But merely investment of IT cannot guarantee success. To bring out desirable results depends on the strategic use of IT in the processes of the value chain which provide values to the customers. In the case of ABC, it placed heavy investment in IT in parallel with the first BPR implementation. But too much emphasis centered on changing IT for the sake of changing the technology rather than changing customer-facing core business processes. It was found that the performance did not attain as expected. the lesson learnt is that the future success will very much depend on the ability of the management in applying IT in a competitive and strategic manner. - There is a need to develop appropriate BPR objectives at the initial stage of BPR program which, on one hand, must meet the business goals but, on the other hand, are not contradictory to the employees expectations. Layouts, downsizing, and other things against employees can never be the specified objectives of the program although they may be the desirable consequences at last. To be sure, BPR with low degree of employees' support can hardly result bottle-line improvements.

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