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Re-engineering? But isn't that so yesterday?

Posted by Balwant C Surti (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:37 AM

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If you believe that "change is the only constant" then you will not find it difficult to accept that "re-engineering is the response to change that keeps you going".

It is assumed, may I add very wrongly, that re-engineering business processes is a one-time exercise. If we did live in a static world, then yes, we could arrive at the perfect process in a few iterations and stick with it forever. But our world is a very dynamic one. Today, technology is the one big change, which keeps the need for re-engineering constant! Here, I'll digress a bit to remind you of a biology lesson from school -species which do not adapt to their changing environment perish and disappear forever. It is no different in the business world. Corporations, which fail to keep up with change, are doomed to extinction.

Re-engineering is a major change. It is often a reactive response to other changes, such as a shift in customer demand, competitive challenge, government regulation etc. Or, it may be a proactive move to, distance oneself from competitors who are catching up, re-invent a corporation in a dying market, or build an altogether new one. Proactive or reactive, any re-engineering will not give benefits and competitive advantage forever; because competitors will respond, customers can change, and government may suddenly decide to impose tough regulations.

That being said, the answer is not to keep re-engineering without pause. After every re-engineering exercise, process optimization by way of continuous and incremental refinement of processes, will often extend its lifetime. But there will come a time when the benefits of process optimization will be outweighed by its cost. That's the time to re-engineer afresh.

Re-engineering is not new. It was the silver bullet of the 1990s, which like other silver bullets has lost its sheen with the passage of time. But has it also lost its effectiveness and relevance? Not one bit! Today more than ever, we see a need for corporations to adjust themselves to the new normal environment. Re-engineering is the answer to many of the challenges that come with this adjustment!

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