A Critique on Business Process Reengineering

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A CRITIQUE on Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate by Michael Hammer Harvard Business Review July-August 1990 Summary Hammer emphasises the futility of using Information Technology to mechanise the existing processes. He believes in necessity for breaking away from the outdated rules and fundamental assumption that underlie operations to keep up with the quickly changing, growing competitiveness. To achieve this, companies should use the power of modern Information Technology to radically redesign their processes to achieve dramatic improvements. He implies that the result is uncertain but sees reengineering as the only hope for breaking away from the antiquated processes that threaten to drag many…show more content…
The paper courages the reader: After having read the success stories and the extent of the improvement, one could say why can’t we manage? The principles are supported by Ford’s and MBL’s experiences. This shows that each principle presented in the paper is proven and sensitively selected. What he suggests to reengineer the businesses to get dramatic improvements is not something unfamiliar to companies which implement Total Quality to a certain extent. For example, cross-functional perspective and building control into the process already exist in Total Quality. Thus, mentioning these aspects of reengineering in this paper increases its attractiveness and the level of acceptance for those implementing Total Quality. Those aiming at some continuous incremental improvements can understand the importance of rethinking of their businesses then get some quantum leaps in their performance. Weaknesses Of The Paper Hammer has very well explained what reengineering work really means by ‘Don’t Automate, Obliterate’. However, this may lead to false starts: Identifying and understanding the current processes constitute one of the very first steps in BPR. One could misunderstand and ignore this. Therefore, the scope of the verb ‘obliterate’ should have been defined broadly. Hammer, who first coined BPR, sees reengineering as an all-or-nothing proposition with an uncertain result. Given this uncertainty, he also presents reengineering as the
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