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There has been a revolution in the way that companies in many market sectors do business. Despite the many apparently different explanations of the revolution, each supported by new terminology, certain principles keep recurring. These are brought together in this two-part article into the methodology best known as business systems engineering (BSE). It must be emphasised that it is no more, and no less, than achieving a high standard of 'engineering the business process' linking customer need to customer satisfaction by careful total process analysis, design and implementation to enable a win-win scenario. If the methodology of BSE is properly understood, the extension to new market sectors is greatly simplified. This first part concentrates on describing the systems approach and applying it to a range of business processes. Some typical industrial results obtained via application of the BSE methodology are included.