This paper presents Reconfigurable Manufacturing System (RMS) characteristics through comparison with conventional manufacturing systems in order to address a design strategy towards a RMS. The strategy is considered as a part of a RMS design loop to achieve a reconfigurable strategy over its implementation period. Asanother part of the design loop, a reconfiguration link between market and manufacturing ispres ented in order to group products into families (reconfiguring products) and then assign them to the required manufacturing processes over configuration stages. In particular, the Analytical Hierarchical Process (AHP) is employed for structuring the decision making process for the selection of a manufacturing system among feasible alternatives based on the RMS study. Manufacturing responsiveness is considered as the ability of using existing resources to reflect new environmental and technological changes quickly. The AHP model highlights manufacturing responsiveness as a new economic objective along with classical objectives such as low cost and high quality. The forward-backward process is then proposed to direct and control the design strategy under uncertain conditions during its implementation period. The proposed hierarchy is generic in structure and could be applicable to many firms by means of restructuring the criteria. This work is based on a case study in a manufacturing environment. Expert Choice software (Expert Choice 1999) is applied to examine the structure of the proposed model and achieve synthesise/ graphical results considering inconsistency ratios. The results are examined by monitoring sensitivity analysis while changing the criteria priorities. Finally, to allocate available resources to the alternative solutions, a (0–1) knapsack formulation algorithm is represented.