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Differences between BPR and BPM Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2020


The business process reengineering (BPR) strategy was developed in 1990s and it was directed towards analyzing and redesigning workflows in organizations (Thong, Yap & Seah 2000).

On the other hand, business process management (BPM) involves a systematic process meant to replace an existing business process gradually while at the same time maintaining the day-to-day activities. They both came into existence courtesy of the ever-evolving technology and the need to improve quality and cut down the costs of running businesses.

The two concepts are used interchangeably and most people use the terms synonymously. Even though the two terms have some similarities in their definitions, there exists a thin gap between them, which comes out clearly at the implementation stage. This paper underscores the differences between the two terms, viz. BPR and BPM.

Process of implementation

As aforementioned, the major differences between the two stand out during the implementation stage. BPR is a onetime process involving radical changes and replacement of the existing processes with new ones.

Several jobs are combined into one, where machines do most of the work with only a few technical employees needed to operate them. On the other hand, BPM is a top-down design aimed at empowering persons at the bottom such that they can make decisions on their own.

BPM is a method of improving operations and outputs of a business, and thus all stakeholders must be consulted at every stage of the process. BOM involves a long process as opposed to a onetime change in BPR.

Under BPM, the existing business processes are not replaced at once, but rather in a continuous process that goes on until all the unwanted processes are replaced (Lin, Yang & Pai 2002). The idea seeks to maintain the day-to-day running of a business, while at the same time implementing innovative versions to improve the products’ quality.

Role of people

BPR advocates for pure automation of business activities, thus cutting down the number of employees. It calls for the automation of all business operations including documentation. Workers are replaced with machines wherever possible, which explains the resistance from employees when the strategy was first proposed in the 1990s (Thong, Yap & Seah 2000).

The idea here is to cut down the cost of operating a business, and by retrenching employees and replacing them with machinery, this objective is automatically achieved since a machine will increase production speed and it will only require few people for its operation.

The process in this case is not visible to non-technical personnel since everything is fed in applications and only the technical team can access and interpret it. In contrast, BPM advocates the use of mathematical approaches in achieving the desired improvements (Vom Brocke & Sinnl 2011).

It requires an organization to invoke both machinery and human factors of production simultaneously in order to achieve the set goals. It recognizes the role played by employees and it does not provide for their sudden dismissal as it is in the case of BPR.

Since it is a more conservative process as compared to BPR and business operations continue even as the improvements are being made, the employees’ services will remain intact as opposed to BPR where employees are replaced with machines at once.

In addition, BPM does not automate the entire process and the desired model is well interpreted by a runtime engine that makes it understandable to all employees including the non-technical workers. This aspect gives all employees an opportunity to contribute in the workplace and propose changes where necessary.

BPM encourages innovations, thus improving the model through testing and effecting changes in the areas that fail. It is flexible and workers are in a position to understand their roles and contribute towards improvement of the system.

On the contrary, BPR is constant and it provides minimal no room for innovation since machines have to effect the desired improvements.


The idea behind BPM is to manage the already existing business processes effectively, while BPR seeks to increase performance by implementing entirely new processes aimed at cutting down the costs connected to the day-to-day operations of the business and at the same time improving quality and speed (Thong, Yap & Seah 2000).

Generally, BPR is greatly influenced by innovations and the environment at large. When a given technology becomes obsolete, BPR must take place; for example, changes in IT architecture may call for a BPR.

BPM attempts to address the customers’ issues and increase their satisfaction by analyzing their needs and areas of dissatisfaction and then implementing the necessary strategies to ensure improvement in product quality, whereas BPR analyses the business processes from the beginning and eliminates practices that are barriers to the growth of a firm.

The objective of BPM is to condense human mistakes and improve communication with stakeholders on their responsibilities.

Stage of implementation

BPR works effectively when implemented at the designing stage. At this stage, the objectives and goals of an organization are set and made known to all those involved in making the plan a success. At this stage, BPR processes that best suit the needs of an organization will be adopted.

It can also be implemented when the existing processes become slow and ineffective (Albadvi, Kerama & Razmi 2007). On the other hand, BPM can be implemented at any stage in the business lifecycle since it does not affect the day-to-day running of the business.

BPR is suitable in new businesses, as it does not hamper the daily operations of the business, thus reducing losses that may arise out of implementing the same when the firm is operational.

If implemented when the business is new, BPR will boost the firm’s profitability since it will lead to maximized use of the available resources (Ravesteyn & Batenburg 2010).

Risks involved

BPR involves replacing the existing processes at once. It is a risky venture since its success is not guaranteed. In addition, it is an expensive venture as it involves replacing the existing processes at once. Setting up the IT infrastructure could cost the firm a lot of money and in case the project flunks, huge losses are inevitable.

These radical changes can encounter resistance from employees in fear of losing their jobs. This assertion holds given the numerous workplace revolts that were witnessed in different places in the 1990s when the strategy was proposed.

A complete overhaul of the existing systems is an unwarranted risk especially in the contemporary ever-changing business environment volatility and impeding economic crises fuelled by speculations and globalization.

Considering that the existing processes are no longer regarded as useful, failure of the new processes may affect the firm negatively through reduced profits and loss of customers. On the other hand, BPM is quite conservative and the current processes are not laid off at once. The business operations continue as new processes are being put in place.

BPM is flexible and it can readily be adjusted in case there is an indication of failure in the process (Buhler, Vidal & Verhagen 2003). Therefore, BPM is free of risk, as customers will continue to enjoy the products even during the process implementation, thus reducing the risk of failure.

In addition, this gradual change is readily acceptable by employees as opposed to sudden changes in BPR. There is relatively lower risk of failure in BPM as compared to BPR.


Apparently, BPM and BPR are complimentary as opposed to being alternatives as perceived by many people. The tow strategies are intended to improve the quality and at the same time reduce the cost of running businesses by employing modern technology. However, the two processes have clear-cut distinctions.

The most fundamental point to be depicted from this essay is that when BPR is considered, then the short-term and the long-term goals of the organization in question ought to be taken into account as well. Therefore, it involves sudden changes that may be risky and it may even affect the existing culture.

On the other hand, BPM is very conservative and flexible and it is a systematic process that gradually automates the organization with the roles of the employees being recognized (Ravesteyn & Batenburg 2010). No major changes are observed in the culture of the company. Therefore, it is cheaper to implement BPM as compared to BPR.

Reference List

Albadvi, A, Keramati, A & Razmi, J 2007, ‘Assessing the impact of information technology on firm performance considering the role of intervening variables: organizational infrastructures and business processes reengineering’, International Journal of Production Research, vol. 45 no.12, pp. 2697-2734.

Buhler, A, Vidal, M & Verhagen, H 2003, Adaptive Workflow= Web Services+ Agents, CSREA Press, Las Vegas.

Lin, F, Yang, M & Pai, Y 2002, ‘A generic structure for business process modeling’, Business Process Management Journal, vol. 8 no.1, pp.19-41.

Ravesteyn, P & Batenburg, R 2010, ‘Surveying the critical success factors of BPM-systems Implementation’, Business Process Management Journal, vol.16 no.3, pp.492-507.

Thong, J, Yap, S & Seah, K 2000, ‘Business process reengineering in the public sector: the case of the Housing Development Board in Singapore’, Journal of Management Information Systems, vol. 17 no.1, pp. 245-270.

Vom Brocke, J & Sinnl, T 2011, ‘Culture in business process management: a literature Review’, Business Process Management Journal, vol. 17 no.2, pp.357-378.

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