Author: Wan, Yat-ming Paul
Title: "Why do we do what we do at all?" : a fundamental rethinking on the way court reporting service has been provided in Hong Kong. A case study of a BPR project in the Court Reporters Office, Hong Kong Judiciary
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 1996
Subject: Law reporting -- China -- Hong Kong -- Case studies
Reengineering (Management)
Hong Kong. Court Reporters Office
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Computing
Pages: vii, 99 p. : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of the business processes to bring about dramatic improvements in performance (Hammer and Champy 1993). In most BPR literature, research and practice, the predominant emphasis has been on 'business process'. Very little has been said, and even less has been done for the 'public process'. "Reengineering is concerned with the redesign of work so that it can be performed in a far superior way. Therefore reengineer is relevant for any organisation in which work takes place: profit or non-profit, private or public sector." (Hammer and Stanton 1995). There has been considerable outcry for 'Re-Inventing The Government' (Osbourne & Gaebler 1992). Notwithstanding that at least 20% to 70% of a modern country's GNP is consumed by the public sector, BPR in the public sector is still in its inchoate state. This case study explores how BPR principles and practices may also be applied in the public sector, and what are the necessary modifications to the generic BPR model to guide the successful implementation in the public sector. The background setting is a small operation section in the Hong Kong Judiciary. Hong Kong is a unique place where East meets the West. An English common law system operates in a predominantly Chinese society where the mother tongue and the vernacular culture is Chinese. The official language in the Supreme Court is English. The Court Reporters Office (CRO) of the Judiciary provides an almost monopoly statutory court reporting service in English provided by the court reporters whose majority is local Chinese. The court reporting service has suffered from the chronic problem of shortage in staff with proficient English language and shorthand technical skill. The problem reached a crisis dimension due to brain drain and additional court seating. Like many businesses which are confronted with a crisis situation, the CRO has to embark on a journey to redesign its court reporting process. Crisis provides an opportunity for BPR. In this exploratory and participative case study, the author-researcher was the section head (Senior Executive Officer) of the CRO, contributing to the BPR implementation by providing resource management and operation support service in the reengineering task group. The operational side (the court reporting service) has been provided by the professional court reporters. This dissertation is divided into the following 5 chapters- - the first chapter serves as an introduction to the central process under study, i.e. the court reporting process, and the background setting leading to planning and implementation of a BPR for the court reporting service; - the second chapter discusses the general strengths and weaknesses of the 'participative case study' research methodology, and why this methodology is chosen in this exploratory research; - the third chapter summarises the literary researches into the trends in business transformation leading to the generic BPR theoretical framework for the private sector. It is hypothesised that, according to Hammer and Stanton (1995), as BPR is concerned about the redesign of work in a new and superior way, the same generic BPR model, with some modifications to the implementation strategy, can be equally applied to the public sector, furthermore, dramatic performance improvements can also be achievable for BPR in the public sector; - the fourth chapter describes the implementation schedule of the BPR; processes in CRO since mid 1994, and the preliminary results of the reengineered court reporting process; - the fifth chapter concludes the empirical experience gained in the implementation of a BPR in the public sector and verifies the validity of the hypothesis that there is the same set of ingredients of successful implementation in the public and private sector, and indeed dramatic performance improvement can be achieved. An modified set of implementation guidelines for the public sector, as a theory extension to the generic BPR model, is proposed for future researches. The main research findings from this case study are: - as BPR is concerned with the redesigned of process in a far superior way, most of the generic BPR principles for the private sector are applicable for the public sector, e.g. focus on process, radical redesign, top-down implementation, creative use of IT (Hammer 1993); - while most successful BPR cases are documented for the private sector, this case study demonstrates that dramatic performance improvement is also possible in the public sector. These improvements can be significant and quantifiable; - there is an alternative implementation strategy other than the generic BPR model of sequential stage by stage implementation described by most BPR literature - it is possible, and sometimes desirable or even necessary for some implementation steps to be undertaken concurrently - a 'parallel-run' implementation model for 'operational' and 'supportive' reengineering activities; - Hammer (1993, 1995) argued that the secret to reengineering success is "don't fail", by avoiding common errors of BPR. This case study shows that the BPR in CRO committed 8 out of the 19 common mistakes observed by Hammer and it is still a success. A conservative implementation strategy which emphasises the avoidance of common BPR mistakes may not be only sure-win formula for successful BPR implementation; - the implementation strategy for BPR in the public sector is often sub-optimal from the cost-effectiveness and efficiency points of view as compared to that in the private sector, because of the practical constraints (e.g. legislative, bureaucratic, and personnel issues). Successful implementation requires a delicate trade-off between short term and long term benefits. In this dissertation on BPR, the limelight first falls on the complete redesign of the court reporting service based on outsourcing, computerised digital audio recording technology and globalisation. The real star of the show is the leadership and commitment of the Judiciary management with a new vision and overcoming numerous hurdles, in search of a long term solution to a chronic problem. They demonstrated, once again, that the key to successful BPR implementation was in managing people, not simply technology which provides an agent of change. This case study centres on a quiet revolution in CRO. There are no slogans on BPR painted on the walls of the Supreme Court Building. It is a selling point by the management "Let's find ways to improve our court reporting services to contribute to the administration of justice." It is a quiet but rough ride into an uncharted water of BPR in public sector. One BPR may begin and the other may complete. But once an organisation gathers its momentum for IT-induced transformation, everything changes - its processes, structure, people, culture, management, strategy. Change begins and never stops.
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