Design of Work Systems is an important component in Production and Operations Management. Design of Work Systems forms the basis and explains the importance of work design. Design of Work Systems is used to describe the two basic approaches to job design, the first approach focuses on Efficiency through job specialization and the other focuses behavioral approaches to job design. Design of Work System also entails method analysis which in turn centers on how jobs are performed. Motivation and Trust also form an important dimension in Design of Work systems as this alone provides an opportunity to the Organization to develop effective teams who can achieve organizations short and long term objectives.
Motivation and Trust observations also emphasizes working conditions that in turn lead to work measurements which leads to reward and compensation of the individual working for the organization. In short this topic of Design of Work Systems provides the perfect bridge between Production and Operations Management with Human Resource Management.

production and operations management  DESIGN OF WORK SYSTEMS

Design of Work Systems Introduction

  • Work System Design consists of job design, work measurement and establishment of time standards and worker compensation.
  • The interesting fact is that even in decisions in other areas of design can affect the work design system or even a change in the work design system can change the decisions in other areas. Like Product or Service design will affect Design of Work Systems. Layout Decisions will also affect Design of Systems.
  • It is thus logical to ensure that SYSTEMS approach is followed in a decision for DESIGN, so a decision in one part of the system is equally replicated and acceptable to all the system. E.g. Product or Service Design would require proper people with standardized job description

Job Design

  • Job design involves specifying the content and methods of job. In general the goal of the job design is to create a work system that is not only productive but also efficient.
  • Job designers are concerned with:
  • What will be done
  • Who will do the job
  • How the job will be done
  • Where the job will be done
  • Ergonomics

A successful Job Design must have the following qualities

1.Carried out by experienced personnel who have the necessary training and background. 2.Consistent with the goals of the organization. 3.In documented form. 4.Understood and agreed by both management and employees. 5.Shared with the new employees. 6.Factors that affect Job Design FACTORS that affect Job design include 1.Lack of knowledge of the employees. 2.Lack of Management support. 3.Lack of documented job design which often leads to poor audit review and referral. 4.Job Design can be carried out in 2 ways the Efficient School and the Behavior School. 5.Efficiency School was popular in 1950s based on Frederick W Taylor’s Scientific Management principles. 6.Behavior school is relatively new concept and focused on ways to eliminate workers dissatisfaction and incorporate the feeling of control in work.

Design of Work Systems

1.  Specialization

2.  Behavioral Approaches to Job Design

3.  Teams

4.  Methods Analysis

5.  Motions Study

6.  Working conditions


  • The term specialization refers to work that concentrates on some aspect of a product or service.
  • Jobs that have a narrow scope.
  • Assembly lines, medical specialties, MBA courses.
  • Specialization jobs tend to yield high productivity, low unit costs and lead to high standard of living in most of the industrial nations.
  • Specialization in Business: Advantages
  • Disadvantages

Behavioral Approaches to Job Design

In order to make jobs more interesting and meaningful job designers often consider Job Enlargement, Job Rotation and Job Enrichment.

  • Job Enlargement relates to giving a worker a larger portion of the total task by horizontal loading
  • Job Rotation pertains to Workers periodically exchange jobs
  • Job Enrichment is increasing responsibility for planning and coordination tasks, by vertical loading


The importance of these approaches to job design is that they have the potential to increase the motivational power of jobs by increasing worker satisfaction through improvement in quality of work life.

Motivation always influences quality and productivity. It contributes to work environment where as Trust influences productivity and employee-management relations


Organization adopt teams in order to exploit the benefits of teams

  • Higher quality
  • Higher productivity
  • Greater worker satisfaction

Self-directed teams are groups of empowered to make certain changes in their work process

Methods Analysis

  • Methods analysis deals with analyzing how a job gets done, begins with overall analysis and then moves to specific details like changes in tools and equipment, Changes in product design or new products, Changes in materials or procedures and Other factors (e.g. accidents, quality problems)
  • Methods Analysis Procedure is simple and effective and does the following
  • Identifies the operation to be studied
  • Gets employee input
  • Studies and documents the current method
  • Analyzes the job
  • Proposes new methods
  • Installs new methods
  • Follow-ups to ensure improvements have been achieved
  • Selecting Operations to study
  • Sometimes a supervisor or a foreman may request an operations or part of the operations to be studied. This would be with the intent to increase productivity and reduce costs. The guidelines for studying a job would include
  • A high labor content.
  • Repeated frequently.
  • Unsafe, tiring, unpleasant, noisy and environmentally poor.
  • Quality problems, scheduling bottlenecks etc.

Analyzing the Job and proposing new methods

•Job Design Analyst should question the integrity and effectiveness of present and proposed methods. He or she should use charts, graphs and verbal descriptions to capture how the job is being performed. This can be the first basis and can lead to improvement in job design.

Flow process chart

  • Chart used to examine the overall sequence of an operation by focusing on movements of the operator or flow of materials
  • Worker-machine chart
  • Chart used to determine portions of a work cycle during which an operator and equipment are busy or idle

Experienced Job design analysts often develop a checklist and try to answer these questions

  • Why is there a delay or storage at this point?
  • How can travel distances be shortened
  • Can material handlings be reduced?
  • Would a rearrangement of the workplace result in greater efficiency.
  • Can similar activities be grouped?
  • Would the use of additional or improved equipment be helpful?
  • Does the worker have any suggestion or recommendation for improvement?

Installing the Improved Method

Successful implementation of the proposed method changes requires convincing management of the desirability of the new method and obtaining the cooperation of the worker.

• If the worker has been consulted than the task of installing the new method is easier otherwise it can become the toughest part.

  • If there is a paradigm change (major change or new method) from the old method, the implementation makes take a longer time.
  • Follow up is required to ensure that the changes have been incorporated..

Motion Study and Motion Study Techniques

Motion Study is the systematic study of the human motions used to perform an operation. The purpose is to eliminate /weed-out unnecessary motions and identify the best sequence of operations for maximum efficiency. Motion study forms an important part in productivity improvements. It is based on Frank Gilbreths brick laying trade in the early 20th century, through the use of time motion study techniques.

Motion Study Techniques often incorporate the following four types

1.  Motion study principles – guidelines for designing motion-efficient work procedures

2.  Analysis of therbligs – basic elemental motions into which a job can be broken down

3.  Micro motion study -use of motion pictures and slow motion to study motions that otherwise would be too rapid to analyze

4.  Charts

Motion study principles – Gilbreths work laid the foundation for motion study principles, which are guidelines for designing motion efficient work procedures. The guidelines are divided into three categories.

1.  Principles of the use of body.

2.  Principles for the arrangement of the work place.

3.  Principles for the designs of tools and equipments.

Developing Work Methods An operations manager along with an analyst aims for motion efficiency by achieving the following

Elimination of unnecessary motions

1.  Combination of various activities

2.  Reduction in fatigue

3.  Improvement in the arrangement of the workplace

4.  Improvement in the design of tools and equipment

Therblig Techniques

Analysis of therbligs – basic elemental motions into which a job can be broken down

  • Search implies hunting for an item with eyes or hands.
  • Select means to choose from a group of objects.
  • Grasp means to take hold of the object.
  • Hold refers to retention of an object that has been grasped.
  • Therblig Techniques
  • Transport load means movement of an object after hold.
  • Release load means to deposit the object.
  • Some other common Therbligs are Inspect, Position, Plan, Rest and Delay.
  • Also Frank and Lillian Gilbreth are responsible for micro motion study as well.
  • Working Conditions
  • Working Conditions (cont’d)

Work Measurement determines how long it should take to do a job. This may be focusing on an individual’s performance or completion of a mega scale project. When we discuss the design part of work systems we often discuss the importance of standard time in work measurement. Standard time is Production and Operations Management –MGT613 VU the amount of time it should take a qualified worker to complete a specified task, working at sustainable rate, using given methods, tools and equipments, raw materials and work place arrangements. It also employs the following common types of work measurement techniques

1.  Stopwatch time study

2.  Historical times

3.  Predetermined data

4.  Work Sampling

Stopwatch time study

•Stopwatch time study is used to develop a time standard based on observations of one worker taken over number of cycles. That is then applied to work of others of the same organization who perform the same work. The basic steps in stop watch time study include

1.  Define the task to be studied and inform the workers who be studied.

2.  Determine the number of cycles to observe.

3.  Time the job and rate the workers performance

4.  Compute the standard time

Also, the number of cycles that must be timed is a function of three things

1.  The variability of observed times

2.  The desired accuracy

3.  The desired level of confidence interval for the estimated job time

Desired accuracy is expressed as percentage of the mean of the Observed Time.

N= (zs/a x -)2

Where Z is the number of normal standard deviations needed for desired confidence S is sample standard deviation a is desired accuracy percentage x- (x bar) is the sample mean


A Mechanical Engineer working for an automobile manufacture in Lahore presents the following information to the Operations Manager. The assembly workers take a mean time of 120 minutes to assemble a single car with a standard deviation of 5 minutes. The confidence limit if 95%, The Operations Manager will need how many observations if the desired maximum error is + 5% Solution Given Data S= 5 minutes, Z is 1.96 (since 95 CI) x- = 120 minutes, a= 5 %

The formula is

N= (zs/a x -)2

Substituting the values

N= ( (1.96)(5)/(0.05)(120))2 =(96.04)/(36)=2.67 studies = 3 studies

Development of a Time Standard

Development of a Time standard involves Observed Time (OT), Normal Time (NT) and Standard Time ( ST). Mathematically Observed Time OT is represented by OT = Σ X/ n

• Observed Time OT is just the average of the recorded times. Also Normal Time NT is the observed time adjusted for worker performance.

Similarly Normal time NT=OT X PR

  • Computed by multiplying observed time with Performance rating.
  • Normal time is the length of time a worker should take to perform a job.

Another important concept is Standard time

• Standard Time=ST=NT X AF is the normal time plus allowance for delays like ( getting a glass of water or going to the washroom human needs)

Predetermined Time Standards

1.  Predetermined Time Standards are published data that is based on extensive research to determine standard elemental times.

2.  A common system is the Methods Time Measurement ( MTM)

3.  Analysts are trained and certified before they can be allowed to use MTM.

MTM Advantages

1.  They are based on large number of workers under controlled conditions.

2.  The analyst is not required to rate performance in developing the standard.

3.  There is no disruption of the operation.

4.  Standards can be established even before a job is done.


An Operations Manger comes across two types of compensation, working for any service or manufacturing based organization:

1.  Time-based system, which is the compensation based on time an employee has worked during a pay period.

2.  Output-based (incentive) system, which is compensation based on the amount of output an employee produces during a pay period

Characteristics and Form of Incentive Plan

Operations Manager making use of an Incentive Plan must be able to understand and identify the following characteristics and form of Incentive Plan.

1.  Accurate

2.  Easy to apply

3.  Consistent

4.  Easy to understand

5.  Fair

6.  Compensation

Types of Individual Incentive Plans

Pakistani organizations have employed various types of individual incentive plans which find judicious applications in other countries of the world.

1.  Group Incentive Plans

2.  Knowledge-Based Pay System

3. Management Compensation Of the three mentioned above, the operations manager should be able to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each type of incentive plan.


The importance of work design has been often overlooked because the work of Operations Manager in the past was not linked with the Human Resource Department of the same organization. Times have changed and now Operations side work in tandem with Human Resource Department. Operations Managers are trained to understand the two basic approaches to job design. This lecture provided us with an opportunity that we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of specialization and Behavioral approaches to Job Design. Supplementary discussions focused on Method Analysis and Motion Study Techniques, which focused on efficiency aspect of the job. This may ignore the behavior aspect but still form an important and integral part of job design.

And last but not the least work measurements dealt specifically with the length of time needed to complete a job and was linked with Personnel Planning, Cost Estimation, Budgeting, Scheduling and Worker Compensation.

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