What is Re-engineering?

5 Nov

If a firm were to believe that “change is the only constant” (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Heraclitus) then the firm will find it easier to accept that re-engineering is the response to change that keeps you going forward.

It is sometimes wrongly assumed that re-engineering business processes is a one-time exercise. If we lived in a world where there was no innovation or advancements, a stagnant present, then we could engineer a perfect method to do something, then we would stick by it, never needing to change. This is of course impossible as our vibrant world is ever advancing, growing and changing. Today more than ever technology is affecting business; technology is sparking the need for more advancement in business processes and internal re-engineering.

As Darwin may have put it; ‘species which do not adapt to their changing environment perish and disappear forever.’ (1) It is no difference in today’s competitive world; companies can either keep up with change or face potential extinction.

Re-engineering may occur either be reactive to other changes in the market, government regulations, competitor’s activities, consumer behaviour etc. Or re-engineering may be a proactive step to build a new product line, increase your marker share, catch up with or to pull ahead of competitors or to implement a new business process like BPR.

Reactive or proactive re-engineering changes however cannot be used to sustain a long term competitive advantage. Eventually competitors will reply, governments may suddenly decide to change regulations and consumer’s attitudes may change for the worse.

After every re-engineering exercise, advantages may be gained from the optimisation of constant and incremental modification of your process. This will often lead to a greater lifetime of your new processes. Ultimately the costs of the re-engineering process will out way the potential yields; this is when the firm should look at a completely new idea to adapt.

Process re-engineering was the ‘silver bullet’ (The most popular idea of the decade) of the 1990’s, but it has become less popular over the last fifteen years. That being the case the central idea and methods of re-engineering have not lost their effectiveness and significance. In 2012 more than ever we see the need for companies to modify themselves to new surroundings. Re-engineering may be the answer these firms are searching for, a way to acclimate themselves to new surroundings.

(1) http://www.infosysblogs.com/finacle/2012/10/re-engineering_but_isnt_that_s.html




2 Responses to “What is Re-engineering?”

  1. ronnoc90 November 6, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    Hi returnofthemc, great post, nice image at the end!

    I agree that there is a misconception that reengineering is a once off event! In the 21st century companies must seek to set themselves apart from their competitors and in order to do so must evolve. Changes and modifications be they minimal or large may acts as a means improve the organization as a whole.

    I think its also important to note that reengineering takes place across many different levels in the organization. O’Neill and Sohal (1999), present an excellent literature review of BPR, (for those like myself who only recently came across the term). They reference the reengineering of IBM’s financial process, “which yielded large percentage improvements in costs, time, and quality, but had little effect on over all performance,because it was not a core process central to the strategy of the company.”

  2. returnofthemc November 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Hi ronnoc90, thanks for the reply and the positivity shown to my blog post.

    Yes i read the O’Neill and Sohal (1999) paper and it had some really good points, thanks for recommending the paper. Maybe you should read my latest blog which ties in to your point above that companies must continue to evolve to set themselves apart. The blog is based on the three ways in which companies are finding it easier to change and improve their operations.


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