The Relationship Between Business Process Reengineering And Soft Systems Methodology: One Possible Weltanschauung?

K. Grant

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    This paper is concerned with Soft Systems Thinking and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM): both of which could be used as a framework when undertaking Business Process Reengineering (BPR) studies. SSM is particularly useful in the early stages of problem formulation and conceptualisation of the current business situation, and thereafter its subsequent transposition onto the new future business domain. Action centred research is drawn upon, within a government agency, where the application of systems ideas and systems thinking, in the form of a derivative of SSM, was applied when facilitating the rethinking and restructuring of an information systems development department. A clear rationale is given as to how and why SSM can be used when conceptualising problematic situations, in relation to establishing multiple perceptions of the problem. In particular, emphasis is placed on the value SSM can bring in the early stages of Business Process Reengineering. The value of SSM within BPR studies is summarised as follows: ? the conceptualisation of the problem situation ? the development and application of agreed and debated consensus models, covering what the organisation is and does ? rethinking what the business should be doing utilising similar conceptual models ? debating what changes are needed when challenging the current ?rules? of business to achieve effective and meaningful BPR. The development of these conceptual models via rich pictures, relevant systems, and especially the use and employment of Consensus Primary Task Conceptual Models, are ideally suited when providing meaningful analysis by encapsulating the organisational dimensions of culture and politics. The paper also explores the need to learn from the impact of BPR on organisations, and presents a case that SSM can be used as a useful framework to aid future BPR activities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 1995
    EventBritish Academy of Management Annual Conference - Sheffield, United Kingdom
    Duration: 10 Sep 199513 Sep 1995


    ConferenceBritish Academy of Management Annual Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • BPR
    • SSM
    • Systems Thinking
    • Role Analysis
    • Consensus Primary Task Conceptual Model


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