reengineering

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reengineering

[‚rē·en·jə′nir·iŋ]
(systems engineering)
The application of technology and management science to the modification of existing systems, organizations, processes, and products in order to make them more effective, efficient, and responsive.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Reengineering

The application of technology and management science to the modification of existing systems, organizations, processes, and products in order to make them more effective, efficient, and responsive. Responsiveness is a critical need for organizations in industry and elsewhere. It involves providing products and services of demonstrable value to customers, and thereby to those individuals who have a stake in the success of the organization. Reengineering can be carried out at the level of the organization, at the level of organizational processes, or at the level of the products and services that support an organization's activities. The entity to be reengineered can be systems management, process, product, or some combination. In each case, reengineering involves a basic three-phase systems-engineering life cycle comprising definition, development, and deployment of the entity to be reengineered.

Systems-management reengineering

At the level of systems management, reengineering is directed at potential change in all business or organizational processes, including the systems acquisition process life cycle itself. Systems-management reengineering may be defined as the examination, study, capture, and modification of the internal mechanisms or functionality of existing system-management processes and practices in an organization in order to reconstitute them in a new form and with new features, often to take advantage of newly emerged organizational competitiveness requirements, but without changing the inherent purpose of the organization itself.

Process reengineering

Reengineering can also be considered at the levels of an organizational process. Process reengineering is the examination, study, capture, and modification of the internal mechanisms or functionality of an existing process or systems-engineering life cycle, in order to reconstitute it in a new form and with new functional and nonfunctional features, often to take advantage of newly emerged or desired organizational or technological capabilities, but without changing the inherent purpose of the process that is being reengineered.

Product reengineering

The term “reengineering” could mean some sort of reworking or retrofit of an already engineered product, and could be interpreted as maintenance or refurbishment. Reengineering could also be interpreted as reverse engineering, in which the characteristics of an already engineered product are identified, such that the product can perhaps be modified or reused. Inherent in these notions are two major facets of reengineering: it improves the product or system delivered to the user for enhanced reliability or maintainability, or to meet a newly evolving need of the system users; and it increases understanding of the system or product itself. This interpretation of reengineering is almost totally product-focused.

Thus, product reengineering may be redefined as the examination, study, capture, and modification of the internal mechanisms or functionality of an existing system or product in order to reconstitute it in a new form and with new features, often to take advantage of newly emerged technologies, but without major change to the inherent functionality and purpose of the system. This definition indicates that product reengineering is basically structural reengineering with, at most, minor changes in purpose and functionality of the product. This reengineered product could be integrated with other products having rather different functionality than was the case in the initial deployment. Thus, reengineered products could be used, together with this augmentation, to provide new functionality and serve new purposes. There are a number of synonyms for product reengineering, including renewal, refurbishing, rework, repair, maintenance, modernization, reuse, redevelopment, and retrofit.

Much of product reengineering is very closely associated with reverse engineering to recover either design specifications or user requirements. Then follows refinement of these requirements or specifications and forward engineering to achieve an improved product. Forward engineering is the original process of defining, developing, and deploying a product, or realizing a system concept as a product; whereas reverse engineering, sometimes called inverse engineering, is the process though which a given system or product is examined in order to identify or specify the definition of the product either at the level of technological design specifications or at system- or user-level requirements.

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Engineering. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

reengineering

Using information technology to improve performance and cut costs. Its main premise, as popularized by the book "Reengineering the Corporation" by Michael Hammer and James Champy, is to examine the goals of an organization and to redesign work and business processes from the ground up rather than simply automate existing tasks and functions.

Driven By Competition
According to the authors, reengineering is driven by open markets and competition. No longer can we enjoy the protection of our own country's borders as we could in the past. Today, in a global economy, worldwide customers are more sophisticated and demanding.

Less Management
Modern industrialization was based on theories of specialization with millions of workers doing dreary, monotonous jobs. It created departments, functions and business units governed by multiple layers of management, the necessary glue to control the fragmented workplace.

In order to be successful in the future, the organization will have fewer layers of management and fewer, but more highly skilled workers who do more complex tasks. Information technology, used for the past 50 years to automate manual tasks, will be used to enable new work models. The successful organization will not be "technology driven;" rather it will be "technology enabled."

Customer Oriented and Radical Improvement
Although reengineering may wind up reducing a department of 200 employees down to 50, it is not just about eliminating jobs. Its goals are customer oriented: it is about processing a contract in 24 hours instead of two weeks or performing a telecommunications service in one day instead of 30. It is about reducing the time it takes to get a drug to market from eight years to four years or reducing the number of suppliers from 200,000 to 700.

Reengineering is about radical improvement, not incremental changes.

References


The primer on the subject is the best-selling book "Reengineering the Corporation" by Michael Hammer and James Champy, (HarperBusiness, 1993). It is "must reading" for anybody who wants a basic understanding of the subject.

"BPR Wizdom: A Practical Guide to BPR Project Management" by Dennis E. Wisnosky and Rita C. Feeney (Wizdom Systems, Inc., 1999). Considered extremely helpful for top managers, it includes a blueprint for reengineering from start to finish.

"The Great Transition" by James Martin is a massive tome that elaborates on seven disciplines for engineering the enterprise, (AMACOM, 1995). Martin was one of the most prolific writers in the information field.
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