We have recently seen the re-emergence of re-engineering as companies search for ways to optimize and rationalize their operations in order to cut cost.
We were deeply involved in re-engineering in the mid-1990's during the height of that "consulting craze" which was lead by the guru of process redesign, Michael Hammer.
Specifically we worked at IBM with a group of re-engineering experts that were dramatically redesigning the way IBM developed products. We worked with that team on the San Jose disk drive business, cutting the development cycle time down to 12 months (originally ~36 months) and removing 4 layers of their 7-layer management hierarchy and redistributing these people back into core development teams. It was a real shock for those long-term IBM'ers when they lost their secretaries!
This presentation (above) describes an innovative use of decision modeling to focus a team on the business processes that would generate the greatest return (i.e. maximize the benefit for the $ invested). We started by benchmarking them against their competition in order to identify their strengths and weaknesses (from the customer's perspective).
This lead to a study of customer needs (i.e. what they wanted most), where we ranked the ways they could meet those customer needs. This ranked list then became the criteria by which they ranked the specific business processes that could be redesigned. Each re-design project was "costed," with those costs we did a cost-benefit study to determine where to get the biggest bang-for-the-buck.
Once focused, we proceeded to re-engineer the target processes.