The Nature of Business Process Redesign in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in a Developing Country Context

David Sanka Laar, University of Cape Town
Lisa F. Seymour, University of Cape Town


As important drivers of the economy, Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)in developing countries need to adopt innovative business practices to deal with their volatile economic environment. Business process (BP) redesign provides transformational capabilities that can improve the performance of SMEs. However, research in BP redesign has concentrated on large organisations, mostly in developed economies, resulting in methods that are not suitable for SMEs in developing countries. This has resulted in limited adoption of BP redesign among these enterprises. SMEs have unique challenges such as resource poverty, lack of business skills, and different business goals and practices. Thus, they require BP redesign methods tailored to their needs. To contribute to addressing this gap, this paper explored the issues raised by SMEs in BP redesign initiatives in a developing country context. Through exploratory interviews with managers of SMEs, the findings show that the SMEs are characterised by severe limitations in resources, and uncertain business environment. Thus, they engage in agile, iterative, systemic, and context-sensitive process change practices. As part of a larger design science research (DSR) project, these findings serve as a foundation for designing and developing a BP redesign method suitable for SMEs in developing country contexts.