A Visible Solution Paper
By Alan Perkins
Vice President, Consulting Services
1997, Visible Systems Corporation
This paper describes
Enterprise Engineering, the Enterprise Engineering life cycle,
and a computer-based Enterprise Engineering "tool set"
"Enterprise Engineering," as it is
defined by Visible, involves all the activities that
organizations ("enterprises") perform to improve
productivity, gain and maintain competitive advantage, optimize
resources, deliver quality products and services, and meet
customer expectations and demand. These can include traditional
activities such as reorganization, concentration on core products
and competencies, niche marketing, acquisition, merger, and new
technologies. Enterprise Engineering also includes new techniques
and methods such as business process re-engineering, continuous
process improvement, total quality management, enterprise
architecture, and enterprise integration.
One thing that distinguishes today's successful
enterprise, business and government, is the ability to adapt to
changes in environment, in markets, and in customer expectations.
In order to survive into the 21st century, an enterprise must
make change management an integral, enterprise-wide process. The
nation's newest management "gurus" urge enterprise
executives and managers to think in radical terms, often
recommending dramatic overhaul of entire operations at a single
"Most of [the new gurus] agree that [an
enterprise] should organize itself on the basis of process, such
as fulfilling an order, instead of functions, such as marketing
or manufacturing," writes John Byrne in Business Week.
"That takes the enterprise's focus off its own internal
structure and puts it on meeting customers' needs, where it
belongs. [They] generally agree that time can be squeezed out of
every job; that self-managed teams throw more challenge and
meaning into employment; and that enterprises sorely need to
create networks of relationships with customers, suppliers and
According to Byrne, they also tend to agree
that smaller is better, yet they do not applaud wholesale
downsizing as a cure-all. "If all you try to do is flatten
your existing organization, you'll kill it," says Michael
Hammer, president of Hammer and Co., Cambridge, MA. "The fat
is not waiting around on top to be cut. It's marbled in, and the
only way you get it out is by grinding it out and frying it
out."2 This may mean that enterprises need to totally
"re-engineer" how work gets done -- new goals, new
methods, new processes, new measures, new technologies.
Enterprise Engineering provides both a road map
and a vehicle for an enterprise's journey into the future. The
Enterprise Engineering life cycle involves a multi-phased
approach that coordinates strategic, operational, and
organizational demands. The following is a typical Enterprise
1. Describe the enterprise mission in a
brief statement of purpose: what the enterprise does, how,
and for whom.
2. Make assumptions and gather data about
external factors; for example, government policies, rates of
inflation, markets, and demographic changes.
3. Assess enterprise strengths and
4. Establish goals and objectives and
measures linked to the enterprise mission.
5. Develop strategic and operational plans
to meet the goals and objectives.
6. Design/re-design and integrate
cross-functional processes to meet goals and objectives.
7. Implement information systems that
support enterprise processes and assist decision-making.
8. Evaluate performance to ensure that
goals and objectives are being met.
9. Reevaluate and change goals, objectives,
processes and measures as necessary.
Enterprise Engineering often involves wholesale
enterprise culture change, and is quite difficult. The innovative
and constructive use of computer-based tools, at every step in
the cycle, can make such change much easier.
Visible has an integrated E-CASE
(Enterprise - Computer Aided Systems Engineering) product, Visible
Advantageä , that is uniquely suited to support the
requirements of Enterprise Engineering.
Visible Advantage is a
Windows-based, Enterprise Engineering support system that
includes extensive reporting capability, and state-of-the-art
modeling, charting, analysis and information system design tools.
Visible Advantage can be used
effectively as just a strategic planning tool, and such use will
result in superior, multi-level strategic plans, but its
strengths are best utilized when enterprises also use its power
for all Enterprise Engineering-related activities. For example, Visible
Advantage can be used to document an enterprise's performance
measures and link them to appropriate elements of strategic
plans. This linkage allows quick reaction to changes in
environment, policy or customer requirements. Using Visible
Advantage, the information requirements that support an
enterprise's performance measures can also be modeled and
translated into database, data warehouse, decision support system
(DSS), and executive information system (EIS) designs. These
designs can then be developed and implemented to provide for
automated capture, reporting and analysis of performance
In addition to its own tools, Visible
uses Ventana Corporations collaborative technology,
GroupSystemsä , to facilitate many of the critical elements of
strategic planning, such as consensus building and group decision
making. GroupSystems is a set of computer-based tools that
uniquely supports group sessions by allowing both simultaneous
and anonymous participation. Anonymity allows ideas to be
evaluated on their merit and not their source -- pressure to
conform to a group norm is alleviated without losing group
consensus. Simultaneous participation using networked computers
significantly reduces the time required for meetings (average
timesaving ranges from 50% to 80% with commensurate cost
savings). Using Ventanas electronic meeting support
systems, Visible is able to conduct strategic planning
sessions, that are extremely effective and productive, in an
atmosphere that is both relaxed and supportive.
Visible also integrates workflow
modeling and simulation tools with Visible Advantage and
GroupSystems to complete its Enterprise Engineering tool set. The
specific workflow product is based solely upon the needs of Visibles
Even though Visibles Enterprise
Engineering tools are "high tech," they are extremely
Visibles state-of-the-art products
and proven, comprehensive methodology facilitate implementing
results-oriented, customer-focused management in any enterprise.
Basically, Visibles methodology provides guidance
and a flexible framework that allow an enterprise to establish
effective, management practices that, at the same time, reflect
the enterprises unique culture and requirements. Visibles
consultants can help an enterprise prepare for, develop,
implement, and improve any of the following Enterprise
- Strategic Planning
- Visible Advantage provides an easy
way to document strategic elements and their
relationships, including expectations of stakeholders
(the enterprise's stockholders, suppliers, regulators,
customers, employees, etc.), strengths (including core
competencies) and weaknesses of the enterprise, and any
assumptions about external factors. From this data,
long-term strategic plans are developed and documented.
These multi-level plans identify goals, objectives,
success factors, cross-functional processes, priorities,
performance measures and potential resource requirements
for all enterprise elements. These strategic elements
become the basis for a computer-based enterprise
architecture (see box).
- Process Improvement
- Once strategic elements have been
documented, enterprise engineering teams begin improving
enterprise processes. These teams include the managers
and staff actually involved with the process. It is
always easier for people who are familiar with a process
to improve it.
- The teams use Visibles
Enterprise Engineering tools to diagram and document
enterprise processes. The resulting enterprise
architecture models are rich with detail and linked to
applicable goals and objectives.
- Just as blueprints depicting a house must
be readable to those who use them, so too, must the
models and diagrams which depict the enterprises
architecture be usable by those who must make business
- The way in which enterprise models
are developed also affects the usability of the
enterprise architecture. For example, waiting until every
element has been modeled before beginning improvements
may eventually result in an excellent enterprise
architecture, but it is unlikely that management or
workers will be interested in such a long-term
investment. When remodeling a house, the most successful
approach is often to proceed a room at a time; so it is
when remodeling enterprises. Visibles
Enterprise Engineering methodology encourages enterprise
teams to make improvements one process at a time.
- Improving parts of an enterprise which are
not critical to its success is, at best, a waste of time
and resources; at worst, it can have a detrimental impact
on the enterprise by focusing attention needed for
crucial functions on areas which are of little relative
value. Visibles Enterprise Engineering
methodology allows enterprises to shape processes as
efficient and effective ways to meet strategic goals and
objectives. Initial focus typically targets high impact
areas such as customer service, new product delivery, or
significant revenue areas. Successful Enterprise
Engineering concentrates on what the enterprise actually
needs so that efforts result in both long-term and
- Once an existing process has been modeled,
it is analyzed thoroughly and improvement opportunities
are identified. Potential improvements are tested using
the "what if?" simulation capabilities of Visibles
Enterprise Engineering tool set, keeping costs at a
minimum. Only those improvements that show promise in the
simulations are integrated. New processes are similarly
designed and tested using the simulation tools before
they are integrated into enterprise operations.
- As the enterprise changes, the enterprise
architecture must be changed; otherwise, the architecture
will not accurately reflect the enterprise and will
become a questionable source of assistance for decision
making and improvement. Suppose the blueprints for a
house show the electrical lines that were originally
installed, but someone rewired a few rooms without
changing the diagrams. If an electrician were to use
those out-of-date blueprints for another remodeling job,
the result could be confusion, higher cost and possible
injury. Likewise, enterprises that invest in developing
enterprise models, but fail to provide for maintenance
can expect the value of the models to diminish over time,
and, if still used, to have a negative impact
- Performance Measurement
- Establishing the right performance
measures is the key to successful Enterprise Engineering.
An enterprise must be able to tell whether progress is
being made on its critical goals and whether stakeholder
expectations are being met.
- Visibles tool set allows an
enterprise to develop performance measures that are
cross-functional and which are linked to the appropriate
strategies, objectives, and performance criteria.
Management's targets and thresholds for the measures,
often using external benchmarks, are documented in detail
in the architecture as each process is engineered. These
data elements form the structure for an enterprise's
performance measurement system.
- Performance measurement documentation
includes not only the content of reports, but also
documents the path of the data from source to final
report recipient. The combination of all the reports of
all the performance measures becomes the basis for a data
warehouse and an Executive Information System (EIS) that
is truly tailored to the enterprise's requirements.
- Executives and managers use the
information produced by the EIS to reinforce initiatives,
reward behavior and change strategies. Employees use it
to adjust operations and respond to strategic needs. By
linking timely accurate measures to specific goals and
objectives, process management becomes more of a science
and less of an art.
Enterprise Engineering, which applies equally
to well-established and newly-forming enterprises, responds to
the fundamental business drivers of the 1990's: migration to
"agile" production, globalization of markets, changing
labor pools, and volatile political and business environments.
The basic element of successful Enterprise
Engineering is the linkage of all critical elements. Visibles
Enterprise Engineering methodology and tool set allow an
enterprise to define its strategy, then design and implement
processes which support the strategy, and then manage the
processes to assure enterprise success -- all while maintaining
focus on goals, success factors and stakeholder expectations.
According to Scott Wallace, an independent
industry analyst, "The tools and techniques of [information
technology]...are still the best means available to analyze,
document and design performance measurement systems."3
"The reason to invest in information
technology is to add value to the enterprise," says Robert
J. Benson, Dean of the School of Technology and Information
Management at Washington University in St. Louis. "Linking
[information technology] investment to business contribution is
an important first step in supporting enterprise performance
improvement."4 The Enterprise Engineering tools described in this
paper are the ultimate value-added use of information technology.
In todays enterprises, knowledge and
information are key resources on a par with capital, personnel,
equipment and plant. Information systems are tightly interwoven
within today's enterprises, requiring close coordination between
information systems professionals and business engineers. The
impact of business engineering requires significant change in how
information is processed in an enterprise, which means that
systems supporting changed processes must also be changed. Visibles
Enterprise Engineering methodology and tools not only make
effective change management possible, they make it easy.
Back to Contents.
A. Byrne, "Management's New Gurus," Business
Week, August 31, 1992, pp. 44-52
Wallace, "Changing the Rules," CIO, May 15,
1992, pp. 31-34
See Note 2.
Back to Contents.
For more information concerning this Visible
Solution, please contact:
Visible Systems Corporation
201 Spring Street Lexington MA 02421 USA
Phone: +1-781-778-0200 · Fax +1-781-778-0208
Web Site: http://www.visible.com
Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 246, Hillarys Perth WA 6923 Australia
Phone: +61-8-9402-8300 Fax: +61-8-9402-8322
Web Site: http://www.ies.aust.com/