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Abstract

Integration of technical systems with business processes, and coherent strategies for the development of both, have long been recognised as critical to the competitiveness of companies. However, as separate systems become integrated, dependencies are established that complicate future reengineering exercises. These internal dependencies increase the risk associated with change, promote incremental approaches to systems reengineering and hasten the emergence of legacy systems. Once established, these legacy systems not only represent an impediment to advancing the technology strategy, they may also lock in redundant business processes with a consequent erosion of competitiveness. Reengineering these legacy systems to improve competitiveness therefore requires both technical expertise in systems engineering and an understanding of what the business process is intended to achieve. Recent technical and business change drivers such as the 'Year 2000 Problem' (Y2K) and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), however, exposed concerns that many organisations may lack even the required technical expertise. Clearly a demand for improving the capture and dissemination of systems reengineering expertise exists. One recent and promising approach to allowing transfer of expertise in well-defined contexts uses patterns. This paper explores patterns as a means of codifying and disseminating systems reengineering expertise. Through widening the definition of a legacy system to include the business process, we propose that patterns may provide a communication link between business and technology strategists that would help align their objectives and improve the sustainability of any resulting competitive advantage.

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