Retooling Your Company On A Keyboard

Kemini Consulting Inc. in Morristown, N.J., is launching Construct, a new high-tech approach to "reengineering" entire companies. Reengineering calls for radically rethinking a major business process--customer service, say--and using computers to do much of the work in new ways. Boosters say the process can increase efficiency by 10 times or more. But such efforts can fail, because it can take so long to create the needed software using conventional programming methods.Construct lets managers describe their proposed business processes in a notation that can be more directly transformed into new software. The key: prewritten chunks of software, or objects, called BusinessWorks. Because they're written in Smalltalk, a powerful object-oriented computer language supplied by Gemini's partner, ParcPlace Systems Inc., the objects can easily be modified individually. A change in one won't cause catastrophe in the others, as is often the case when changes are made to monolithic programs written in older languages. As a result, Gemini Consulting officials claim, information technology can be tied much closer to corporate objectives, even as they change.

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