Designing a course on Business Process Reengineering (BPR): Bridging the gap between business operations and engineering of systems

Rashmi Jain, Ozgur Erol, Anithashree Chandrasekaran

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is a systematic approach to helping an organization analyze and improve its processes. All systems are designed, developed and engineered to support business processes. Therefore, an understanding of the business processes for engineering students is crucial to choosing how to build and manage systems. BPR was an important activity 1990s and there is a dramatic re-emergence of organizations' interest in the topic1. At Stevens Institute of Technology we, at the under graduate program in Engineering Management felt the need to provide our students the bridge between the design and engineering of systems and business operations. As a result, the primary author was involved in the design, development, and now, the teaching of this course in the senior year. This paper will share the experiences of the author in designing such a course, its relevance to the engineering management undergraduate students, and future benefits to the potential employers of these undergraduate students. The course was offered in the Fall of 2006 for first time to the senior year Engineering Management students. Business Process Reengineering targets to achieve quantum improvements by rethinking and redesigning the way that business processes are carried out with the help of information technology (IT) as the primary facilitator. To remain competitive in today's global economy, there is an urgent need to rethink and transform the existing business processes for improved quality and efficiency, reduced costs, and increased profitability. This provides an opportunity to view the organization-wide processes from a systems perspective. A systems perspective focuses on looking at a set of problems as a whole and the context that creates the holistic view rather than looking at a set of problems as individually isolated events. The course called Business Process Reengineering - EM435 at Stevens is specially tailored to this need; it provides knowledge about BPR and its main concepts, the technologies and the strategies for implementing business transformation, and best practices on BPR. It emphasizes the role of BPR in managing technology and the engineering functions. The course covers the strategic, operational and technological aspects of BPR by relating it to quality improvement and Information Technology. It introduces the main concepts underlying the transformation of business processes, explains the enabling role of IT, and demonstrates the application of different tools to the redesign of business processes. The major learning objectives of the EM435 course are: To understand the importance of processes and BPR and appreciate how BPR bridges the business operations and engineering of systems. To understand how business processes can be radically improved, dramatically reducing process cycle time and cost, and improving the quality of the process products or outcomes. To identify business processes that are candidates for improvement To model current business processes and diagnose problems To model and develop improved business processes that require IT and organizational redesign To develop measures and benchmarks for business processes The pedagogical strategy of the course is to combine the lecture style of teaching and in-class case discussions. Each lecture starts with a presentation of major concepts underlying the subjects to be covered by the instructor and accompanied with in-class discussion of the case studies related to these concepts. The course also provides the students with the success and failure factors of BPR through the case studies. This facilitates the students' ability to relate the course topics to real-world context. The course is designed to teach students BPR methodologies and the modeling technique that accompanies the methodology. The students are required to apply the concepts covered in the class to a real-life process to analyze, model, and optimize it in their final team projects. The implementation of BPR (EM 435) course at the undergraduate level was assessed using the Stevens' School of Engineering assessment system designed to evaluate the educational outcomes of various undergraduate engineering programs. The Course Outcomes Assessment process at Stevens includes a two-pronged approach - the course survey and the Student Performance Assessment (SPA). In this paper we focus on the SPA approach of course assessment. Since the course was taught for the first time it makes sense to focus on the appropriateness of the content as demonstrated by student learning in their assignments, exams, and the final project.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007
Event114th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: 24 Jun 200727 Jun 2007


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