What is Business Process Re-engineering?

Business process re-engineering, or BPR, is a concept that Michael Hammer, a professor of Computer Science at MIT,...

Business process re-engineering, or BPR, is a concept that Michael Hammer, a professor of Computer Science at MIT, introduced in the Harvard Business Review in 1990. BPR is about rethinking and redesigning business processes and workflow so that, by using existing resources, your business can improve in metrics like cost, quality, service and speed.


BPR is dramatic, top-level improvement on the macro level. Instead of modifying sub processes, you are working from the ground up on your business processes, from mission statement to final product and all of the steps in between. In fact, BPR doesn’t have to be about redesigning a process: it can be about eliminating them.


So how does a business go about BPR? First, you have to make sure that you’re not operating on any assumptions. Go through the levels of your business and ask yourself questions like

  • What is our mission statement? Is it appropriate?
  • Do our strategic goals line up with our mission statement?
  • Who are our customers?

Effective BPR must start with solid information. If your business is operating under assumptions instead of facts, BPR will not be effective.


When going through your workflow from mission statement to product, you should focus on the big four areas of BPR: organization, technology, strategy and people. In the end, “business processes” are just a framework for these four areas. When you look at a process, these areas are all encompassing. For example, when considering “people,” you have to consider both things like who oversees a process and how the people working on a project are trained (and if that training should be changed). Everything should be looked at with an eye towards efficiency and better results. BPR is about organizing the tools that you have in your business so that you can produce your product in the most effective and efficient way possible. It is even possible to partially automate BPR with tools like Plasma’s Fusion™ Business Process Management Platform, which converts legacy processes into agile, web-based ones.


BPR can include more than just processes – it applies to all aspects of an organization. For example, looking at the big four areas, “organization” can mean a significant restructuring of the organizational structure of a business. It is an overarching change that, in reality, goes beyond just processes, but is done for the sake of making processes efficient. Everything comes together in an elegant way to form an efficient whole. Nothing is strictly off-limits in BPR, and it’s important that management groups apply BPR to themselves, too, instead of only applying it elsewhere and thereby undermining the process.


BPR is an effective strategy that you can use to get your business running more efficiently and effectively. If you’re interested in what BPR can do for your business, talk to Plasma Computing Group, where our technology and experience work together to make your business all that it can be.