Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and Total Quality Management (TQM)

Business Process Reengineering (BPR)

Business process can be defined as a set of logically related tasks performed to achieve a defined business outcome. It is a structured, measured set of activities designed to produce a specified output for a particular customer or market. Improving business processes is important for businesses to stay ahead of competition in today’s marketplace. Over the last 10 to 15 years, companies have been forced to improve their business processes because customers are demanding better products and services. Many companies begin business process improvement with a continuous improvement model. The Business Process Reengineering (BPR) methodology comprises of developing business processes are simplified rather than being made more complex. Job descriptions expand and become multi-dimensional – people perform a broader range of tasks. People within the organization become empowered as opposed to being controlled. The emphasis moves away from the individual and towards the team’s achievements. The organizational structure is transformed from a hierarchy to a flatter arrangement. Professionals become the key focus points for the organization, not the managers. The organization becomes aligned with the end-to-end process rather than departments. The basis for measurement of performance moves away from activity towards results. The role and purpose of the manager changes from of a supervisor to coach. People no longer worry about pleasing the boss – they focus instead on pleasing the customer. The organization’s value system transforms from being protective to being productive. In this context it can be mentioned that, some of the biggest obstacles faced by reengineering are lack of sustained management commitment and leadership, unrealistic scope and expectations, and resistance to change.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total Quality Management (TQM) is not just an academic concept; it is a way of controlling your business. TQM is concerned with increased customer satisfaction, along with improved business processes. It uses the goal of customer satisfaction to generate the organization’s strategies. During the harsh economic climate of the 1980s, many western organizations began to look seriously at improving activities in their service and product delivery. Different initiatives were put in place within the operations of an organization to try to improve these activities but, disappointingly, the benefits of such measures, when used in isolation, were limited and difficult to evaluate in strategic terms. Some organizations continue to use this method of activity improvement, but often the results end up being partial or short term. In fact, some of these efforts may create a localized impression of providing solutions, when what they are really achieving is shifting the problem elsewhere.

A TQM system may actually make use of any or all of these initiatives as its component parts. However, it differs most importantly from any one of them in its scale. In TQM, all the improvement activities are tied together, so that the ‘knock-on’ effects produced are recognized and used to initiate further improvements. It is a continuous improvement process. This is the key difference between TQM systems and other quality improvement systems. TQM integrates all activities within an organization, guarantees that the activities of one area support changes made in another, and ensures that the results can be evaluated at strategic level. Under TQM, quality is applied in all business functions, not just manufacturing.

To achieve total quality assurance, an organization needs to undertake integrated quality improvement that improves all departments, not just a willing few.

The Difference between Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and Total Quality Management (TQM)

Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and Total Quality Management (TQM) share a cross-functional relationship. Quality specialists tend to focus on incremental change and gradual improvement of processes, while proponents of reengineering often seek radical redesign and drastic improvement of processes. Quality management often referred to as TQM or continuous improvement, means programs and initiatives, which emphasize incremental improvement in work processes, and outputs over an open-ended period of time. In contrast, reengineering, also known as business process redesign or process innovation, refers to prudent initiatives intended to achieve radically redesigned and improved work processes in a specific time frame. In contrast to continuous improvement, BPR relies on a different school of thought. The extreme difference between Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and Total Quality Management (TQM) lies in where you start from, and also the magnitude and rate of resulting changes. In course of time, many derivatives of radical, breakthrough improvement and continuous improvement have emerged to address the difficulties of implementing major changes in corporations. Leadership is really important for effective BPR deployment, and successful leaders use leadership styles to suit the particular situation and perform their tasks, giving due importance to both people and work. Business process is essentially value engineering applied to the system to bring forth, and sustain the product with an emphasis on information flow. By mapping the functions of the business process, low value functions can be identified and eliminated, thus reducing cost. Alternatively, a new and less costly process, which implements the function of the current process, can be developed to replace the present one.

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