An integral part in the development and design of processes is the definition of the tasks that must be accomplished. But how should these tasks be done? Years ago. production workers were craftspeople who had their own (and sometimes secret) methods for doing things. However, over time products have become more complicated. as mechanization of a higher order was introduced. and output rates have increased. As a result. the responsibilities for
work methods have been transferred to management. It is no longer logical or economically feasible to allow individual workers to produce the same product by different methods. Work specialization brought much of the concept of craftwork to an end, as less-skilled workers were employed to do the simpler tasks.
In some large companies. the responsibility for developing work methods is typic all: assigned to either a staff department designated methods or an industrial engineering department: in small firms this activity is often performed by consulting firms that specialize in work methods design. However, as illustrated in the NLVlMI example (see OM in Practice). a growing number of firms are allowing their workers to design their own jobs and also to determine how long they should take.
The principal approach to the study of work methods is the construction of charts. such as operations charts. worker-machine charts, Simon (simultaneous motion) charts. and activist)" charts. in conjunction with time-study or standard-time data. The choice of which charting method to use depends on the activity level of the task: that is. whether the focus is on (a) the overall operation. (hI the worker at a fixed workplace. (c) a worker interacting with equipment. or (d) a worker interacting with other workers (see Exhibit S 10.1 )