Success Factors for Reengineering Projects at Medium Sized Firms

Date of Submission


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science in Management Systems (Sc.D.)




Alexis N. Sommers

Committee Member

Jerry Allen

Committee Member

Peter Berman

LC Subject Headings

Reengineering (Management), Organizational change, Small business

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS 36 .N290 Mgmt. Syst. 2002 no. 1


Since Business Process Reengineering (BPR) emerged as a recognized change process, there has been debate over actual success rates, and whether the pay-offs are worth the considerable risks. Authors commonly estimate that between 50 and 70 percent of all reengineering projects fail, usually because of a lack of top management commitment. Currently there is no independent method to assess the likelihood of success for BPR at a particular firm. This study establishes the factors and preconditions that lead to the success or failure of BPR projects. Identification of these factors has lead to the development of an instrument that can be used by firms, before embarking on a specific BPR project, to assess the likelihood of success for the project.

Preliminary success/failure factors were established from a review of literature on BPR and BPR case studies. The preliminary factors were refined and validated through interviews with firms undergoing or having completed BPR projects. The refined factors formed the basis of a self-assessment instrument that can be used by firms to analyze their readiness to undertake a reengineering project.

Successful identification of factors and preconditions leading to the success or failure of BPR projects should lower the incidence of failure. A BPR readiness assessment will guide firms in selecting processes to reengineer, and indicate preliminary steps needed to improve the likelihood of success. This study is also the first to provide a systematic examination of BPR successes and failures at medium sized firms.

Practioners in the areas of BPR, Electronic Business Process Integration (EBPI) and related process transformations should use the enclosed instrument to clearly understand what they are getting into. This study has shown that five characteristics of the firm; organizational flexibility, availability of resources, executive commitment, ability to change, and IT/BPR skill have a decisive impact on the likelihood of success. Two other characteristics, market conditions and BPR strategy, are less closely coupled to successful outcomes, but should still be considered. Identifying weak areas before starting major projects allows those areas to be explicitly addressed in the project plan. Coupled with an ongoing monitoring program, this will dramatically improve the likelihood of successful project outcomes. The more dramatic the change from existing business processes, the greater the likelihood of failure, making use of this preliminary analysis more vital.