Why BPR fails

Why BPR fails
August 17, 2010 Derek Fournier

Business Process Rearchitecture (BPR or any variant thereof) got a bad wrap. The desire to work on process improvement on an ongoing scedule is important and companies that realize this will eventually beat their competitors. Despite the emotional response to BPR efforts (chronicled in movies like the awesome, Office Space), there are some common themes in the failure cases.

Top 2 Reasons

  1. No understanding of “why” by the Management team (The people who claim it is critical)
  2. No ability to convey “why” to the company (By Management to the people who must buy in and execute on the changes) What is most critical for success?


The management team and any consultative groups must be able to accurately convey the current state and clearly articulate the desired state  in order to build appropriate plans (through active collaboration) and gather the proper support for the initiatives that will spin out of the campaign.

Example – Problem

While working with a large software development firm (Worldwide Software Developer, >90K employees Internationally), the fact that user intervention was not being taken into consideration early was leading to products that did not meet the needs of the target customers. While good engineering was taking place, the results were poorly received features, higher then acceptable rate of ‘bugs’ and customer dissatisfaction. The net impact of this was a drop in licensing revenue and the risk of relinquishing market ownership for a key business segment.


We set up a robust framework for partnering with key clients in a very collaborative way. By establishing programs that allowed the customers to work with our engineering teams early, triage of desired features was completed on whiteboards instead of in developer’s offices which made the final product more appropriate and desirable. Furthermore, by working with our customers to test the product before it released in live environments (with appropriate levels of onsite support) we were able to ensure that the released product was rock solid on initial ship, eliminating delays in their adoption and in our revenue stream.

By working with all of the groups involved, we were able to craft a solution that not only solved the immediate need, but is still in use many releases later. Can you think of ways that you could evaulate some of your own struggles, remove the fences and drive a better end result?




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