Life-Cycle Engineering: The Holistic Approach to Organisati

By McCue, Graham | Management Services, April 1994 | Go to article overview
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Life-Cycle Engineering: The Holistic Approach to Organisati

McCue, Graham, Management Services

From the feedback I received from my previous article there was some confusion over what a Life-Cycle is. The following will hopefully provide clarification and suitable definitions, though I must warn that LCE is still developing, and things are liable to change.

The overall definition for Life-Cycle Engineering is:

The identification, analysis, and definition of the elements that make up the life of a subject in order to gain fuller knowledge, and where appropriate the use of techniques to improve and manage the subject in order to provide greater benefits.

Note that LCE has other uses besides the improvement and management of organisations. This and the previous article are both about:


The holistic approach to organisational improvement and management through the definition, management and use of transaction life-cycles both individually and collectively.


Life-cycle engineering is an extremely potent approach to organisation improvement and management for use by any size or type of organisation including businesses, charities, hospitals, schools, and local or national government. It delivers a wide range of benefits beyond the capability of most other approaches.

LCE takes a new, holistic view of the structure of organisations, and then applies simple improvement methods and tools to create an operating environment tailored to the needs of the organisation. This view is based on the concept of the transaction life-cycle (transaction for short) and is described later.

The LCE approach delivers improvements in a number of ways including:

1 Produces a range of forecast and utilisation reports of cost and resources that identify the difference between what is bought and what is actually utilised.

2 Unnecessary purchases can be identified and eliminated.

3 Under-utilisation of resources can be resolved as the reports can be for individual resources, type, or group.

4 The duration, man-hours and cost of individual transactions can be improved using management services methods.

5 The LCE environment itself provides many improvements in working methods.

6 Implementing continuous improvement or adopting other improvement techniques such as BPR is aided by the fully defined system.

7 For those implementing a quality management system or BS5750, much of the basic work will already be in place and will only require fine tuning.

8 Planning capabilities are increased, and the time required to create a wide variety of plans is drastically reduced.

9 Having a standard means of defining and documenting all of the organisations' activities makes cross-training much easier.

10 Skills analysis can be carried out by reviewing the task descriptions for each role and training courses can be carried out more easily in house.

Once implemented, the operating environment provides the means to perform a wide range of functions in a very short time and in unconventional ways as described later. Whilst delivering a wide range of benefits, LCE continues to use the same widely available and commonly used methods and tools as described in the first article. As it makes use of existing documentation it is even more cost-effective and quick to implement.


To introduce the LCE view of the structure of organisations, along with the current definitions, we'll follow the start-up and growth of an organisation named 'Micawber Widgets'. This is as a tribute to Charles Dickens as it was because of a discussion with my wife using Micawber's famous:

'Annual income twenty shillings, annual expenditure nineteen shillings, result--happiness. Annual income twenty shillings, annual expenditure twenty shillings and sixpence, result--misery!'

to explain an income/expenditure summary that led me to a breakthrough with LCE. Thanks, Charles!

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