Samara University is one of the recently inaugurated universities in Ethiopia, which is found in region two. To undertake the overall operations of the university's activities, the university adopted procedures of doing businesses from elder universities of the country such as Addis Ababa University, Mekelle University and so on. However, nearly all universities of Ethiopia use traditional or fragmented ways of doing businesses that cannot satisfy the customers' (stakeholders') need and ineffective processes for the attainments of the organizational objectives. Generally, the old processes are not effective for the developments of the country at all. Hence, all public universities of Ethiopia including Samara University, under the delegation of Ministry of Education have been engaged for the last two years (2008 and 2009) in Business Process Reengineering (BPR) project to tackle the traditional or fragmented ways of doing businesses.
Among various management tools, Business Process Reengineering is one of the management tools that can help the organization for effective, efficient and economic performance of doing businesses, as well as the stakeholders benefited from good performance of the organization. In this regard, Center for Management Research defined Business Process Reengineering as a management technique through which an organization can improve its operational effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability through a fundamental and radical redesign of business processes. It involves modifying the existing systems and simplifying the processes in an organization in order to improve productivity, reduce costs, and adopt better business practices. In addition, BPR needs breaking the traditional way of doing or thinking business processes and the boundaries between activities and departments within the organization. As a result, the organization's traditional or fragmented business processes designed into integrated and streamlined processes that can help for the achievement of the organization's objectives.
BPR means not only change in some processes, but it is a dramatic/radical change of processes. And dramatic/radical change constitutes the overhaul of organizational structures, management systems, employee responsibilities and performance measurements, incentive systems, skills development, and the use of information communication technologies for the attainment of organizational objectives. Therefore, BPR is one approach for redesigning the way work is done to better support the organization's mission and reduce costs and reengineering starts with a high-level assessment of the organization's mission, strategic goals, and customer needs (United States General Accounting Office (GAO), 1997).
Accordingly, Samara University has finished the redesigning phase of BPR in May 2009 and assigned an implementation team to implement the newly designed processes in June 2009. However, the university cannot implement the new processes still now, even though in BPR principles all of the redesigned processes should not be implemented once rather step-by-step with a pilot study. Thus, at least some selected processes of the newly designed processes have to be implemented in the university because BPR intended to enhance the performance of the organization and lots of resources have been incurred by the University for the BPR project. Therefore, this article tries to answer the following points: what are the major problems the university faced to implement the newly designed processes? How is the BPR project progress? What are different mechanisms the university used to handle the problems?
To address the above points, I have gathered information from some different process redesign team members and implementation team members of the university. In addition, I have included my observations and experiences because I am the staff member of the university and I was one of the team members for the redesigning of the Academic Core Process of the university. Here under, the article presented first the problems that the university faced. Secondly, the progress of BPR project and mechanisms used to handle the problem faced presented, and then after concluding remarks presented.
In May 2009, Ministry of Education arranged meeting for the Academic (Teaching-Learning) Core Process and Research Core Process team members for all public universities at Addis Ababa. Except Addis Ababa University, all universities presented their report regarding to the progress of Academic and Research Core Process. And all universities report focused on one particular problem, i.e. lack of finance to implement the BPR project. Likewise, Samara University faced lack of finance to implement the newly designed processes.
In addition, Samara University faced numerous problems. Among them the majors are lack of the appropriate number of human resources those who fulfill the required qualifications based on the redesigned processes, unavailability of the implementation team members and redesign team members due to educational leave, and the University being located in hot tempered area and incomplete construction progress of offices and laboratories. During the redesign and implementation phase the team members frustrated from luck of management commitments which have direct effect for the BPR project redesign and implementation within the intended time frame. Even though BPR principles requires radical changes and absence of constraints, some processes designed that cannot be implemented in the near future - such as Student Admission Sub Process of Academic Process designed the process based on the University itself to recruit students for the academic calendar, while the existing (traditional) student admission process is based on student placement by the Ministry of Education. Therefore, those mentioned problems have significant effect for the delayed (or failure, otherwise the university takes immediate actions) implementation of BPR project.
Progress of BPR Project and Mechanisms Used to Handle the Problem Faced
As indicated earlier, Samara University has completed the redesign phase of BPR project and following the completion of redesigning phase, implementation team members have been established from each core and support processes (one individual from each processes). However, after the Board of University approved the final draft of BPR project the entire team members dissolved in September 2009 due to educational leave, although the team members have not implement and tested on a pilot study basis. In addition, the University's management has not reorganized any implementation team so far. As a result, the project of BPR stayed only as paper back on the shelves of University's management body.
Beside these, the management body only tries to arrange training regarding to the Academic Core Process with the cooperation of one redesign and implementation team member who is leaving the University as previously indicated. Into the bargain, the University's management inclined to refrain the implementation phase at all and the body relays to reinitiate the implementation phase after acquiring sufficient fund and the return of team members from accomplishing the educational study. The University's management justification for this thought is based on believing team members as having better and adequate understanding how to implement the redesigned processes since processes are redesigned by themselves rather than others who have not participated on the project.
In conclusion, Samara University completed the redesigning phase of BPR project in May 2009. Consequently, in June 2009 the University established implementation team members, even though the team dissolved prior to implementing or testing a bit of redesigned process. However, the cause for the delay or failure to implement the project emanated from some prominent factors such as luck of fund to finance for the acquisition of resources, lack of man power those who can fulfill the required qualifications of the processes, and the entire team members dispatched from the university due to scholarship. As a result of these problems and others, the BPR project now became stagnant after the implementation team members dissolved. On the other hand, the University's management body believed that the BPR project would be reinitiated after acquiring adequate funds and team members returned from their study.