Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 14 Number 1 1997 pp. 69-92

Reengineering Effectiveness and the Redesign of Organizational Control: A Case Study of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

Sia, Siew Kien and Neo, Boon Siong

ABSTRACT: While much publicity and hype surrounds business process reengineering, little attention has been paid to consequential management issues such as compression of responsibilities and the reduction of checks and controls. Redesigned processes require a corresponding alignment in organizational control to sustain reengineering effectiveness. Inadequate attention to these issues can expose reengineered systems to excessive risks or produce reengineering attempts that are prematurely self-defeating as they contradict the underlying control philosophy. This paper addresses the question of whether traditional management controls have been eliminated, compromised, or rendered irrelevant amid such dynamic organizational changes, and, if so, how the management control function in a reengineered organization evolves. This question was explored through an intensive case study of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. The analysis suggests a restructuring of control dependency through automation and cooperation with external agencies, a shift in management practices toward more refined segmentation of control practices and greater leverage on back-end control, and increased reliance on outcome control. The challenge of ensuring proper implementation of such controls, given the deep-rooted traditional control culture, is not trivial. Implications and suggestions for assessing the risks and benefits of organizational control are discussed.

Key words and phrases: business process reengineering, organizational control, risk management