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Reengineering (or re-engineering) is the radical redesign of an organization's processes, especially its business processes. Rather than organizing a firm into functional specialties (like production, accounting, marketing, etc.) and looking at the tasks that each function performs, we should be looking at complete processes from materials acquisition, to production, to marketing and distribution. The firm should be re-engineered into a series of processes.

The main proponents of re-engineering were Michael Hammer and James Champy. In a series of books including Reengineering the Corporation, Reengineering Management, and The Agenda, they argue that far too much time is wasted passing-on tasks from one department to another. They claim that it is far more efficient to appoint a team who are responsible for all the tasks in the process. In The Agenda they extend the arguement to include suppliers, distributors, and other business partners.

Re-engineering is the basis for many recent developments in management. The cross-functional team, for example, has become popular because of the desire to re-engineer separate functional tasks into complete cross-functional processes. Also, many recent management information systems developments aim to integrate a wide number of business functions. Enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, knowledge management systems, groupware and collaborative systems, and customer relationship management systems all owe a debt to re-engineering theory.

Criticisms of re-engineering

Reengineering has earned bad reputation due to the fact that such projects have often resulted in massive layoffs. In spite of the hype surrounding its introduction (partially due to the fact that the authors of Reengineering the Corporation reportedly bought huge numbers of copies to promote it to the top of bestseller lists), reengineering has not lived up to its expectations.

The main reasons seem to be that:

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