Implementing BPR in Hierarchical Authority Organizations

Today the business world is characterized by unpredictable changes, under the global competition and the customers’ demands. To be successful in such an environment, a firm must operate with speed, flexibility, low overheads and a clearly defined customer focus. The term business process reengineering (BPR) refers to an approach that is used by organizations seeking improvements in their business performance. Organizations consider BPR as an important tool of organizational improvement, as it helps them achieve the radical change necessary for today’s volatile business environment. Additionally, BPR stresses the importance of linkages within an organisation. Though its structure integrated processes are generated concerning the nature of people’s jobs and how people are grouped and organized in the working environment. What is more, through BPR people’s jobs become multidimensional instead of narrow and traditional task orientation. When the concept of process is promoted in the BPR, cross boundary teamwork is incorporated and process shifts the goal focus on performance measurement and managerial responsibility from a function or responsibility center to an activity derivative process concept. So, Business process reengineering defines process teams as an important element in the business environment where work becomes multidimensional, substantive and more rewarding.

Hierarchical structures are present in most organizations today. Smaller organizations may have only two levels, while larger ones may have a vast number of levels. These structures are used as a method of communications and as the lines of authority. In an organizational environment, the hierarchy mainly apart of a singular/group of power at the top with subsequent levels of power beneath them. Members of such structures chiefly communicate with their immediate superior and with their immediate subordinates. Hierarchical authority structures are providing the opportunity for greater decision-making width for individuals and more flexible definitions of job activities. This is a challenge to existing organizational forms. In a hierarchical organisation employees are ranked at various levels within the organisation, each level is one above the other. At each stage in the chain, one person has a number of workers directly under them, within their span of control. A tall hierarchical organisation has many levels and a flat hierarchical organisation will only have a few.

BPR in Hierarchical Authority

It is obvious that hierarchies within control systems are a clear need for business environments. Without some form of hierarchy, a low level of control can create numerous problems in an organization. There ate two kinds of control systems: flat and hierarchical. Hierarchical architectures have a more indirect coupling of perceptions to actions through a hierarchical control structure. Both kinds of control systems have benefits, but hierarchical structure can support faster learning and a better way to deal with resistance to change.

Control is a fundamental managerial function. It is the process of regulating organizational activities so that actual performance conforms to expected organizational standards and goals and ensures that necessary corrective action is taken. In fact, control is ensuring work accomplishment according to plans. It is a process of ensuring that activities are producing desired results. We can support that control is an executive function involving three elements, i.e., standards, evaluative and corrective action. Business process reengineering is the latest wave in a series of management initiatives to increase managerial control.

Business process reengineering is proved to be a revolutionary, radical change approach to improving organizational performance through transformation. BPR methodologies aim for a flatter organizational structure, promoting the development of empowered process workers who are encouraged to use information technology in radically new ways to carry out business operations. In BPR approaches, empowerment is inflicted by leadership, changing worker values and through the use of information technologies enables managerial control. Empowerment through BPR does not necessarily release control but does change the way control is exercised. Authority is still enforced through hierarchical control of culture. The reengineering approach polishes the management of power relations, when attempts are made to change traditional power structures and everyday power relations through the flattening of the hierarchy.

The introduction of reengineering introduces a new relationship of power in the form of a discipline which the re-engineering sustains through discourse control. In this new situation any discipline comes with its structures, its hierarchies, its inspections, exercises and methods of training and conditioning. BPR is an approach that supports transformation with the notion of producing the flatter organization. Hierarchy and control are still promoted and within BPR, the emphasis lies on changing the formal patterns and using mechanisms of control to change the informal.

Business process reengineering is a strong tool of managerial control. Through BPR managers can identify whether the organization is on target towards its goals and can make better corrections if necessary. In BPR, information technology is generally considered as playing a role as enabler of new forms of organizing and collaborating. New information technology can help managers provide needed organizational control without strict top – down constraints. A representative example is that of Cisco Systems: By using information technology to coordinate and monitor several aspects of operations, the company keeps tabs on employee and organizational performance without maintaining daily authoritarian control over workers. Cisco employees have amazing freedom to make decision and take actions, but they also know that top managers keep a close eye on what is going on throughout the company.

Most businesses try to take advantage of Business process reengineering concerning dealing with the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control. BPR assumes radical redesign of business processes. Many processes simply can not be further improved in small steps and require a complete redesign in order to improve them in a major way. Hierarchical control is a fundamental element in this effort and managers who desire to organize around outcomes, have people processed their own information, put the decision point where the work is performed and build control into the process, should support the view that BPR can reinforce the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control.

Business process reengineering is a management system of forced, speedy culture change, highly linked to hierarchical control. In fact it does very little to question the fundamental tenets of hierarchical control and in several important respects simply reinforces them.

To conclude, without some form of hierarchy, a low level of control can create numerous problems in an organization. Hierarchical structure can support faster learning and a better way to deal with resistance to change, so Business process reengineering supports the management initiatives to increase managerial control.  In BPR approaches, empowerment is inflicted by leadership changing worker values and through the use of information technologies enables managerial control. Empowerment through BPR does not necessarily release control but does change the way control is exercised.