History of Workflow: Improve Productivity and Efficiency

Workflow started back in the 1900s in manufacturing to improve industrial efficiency.
History of Workflow: Improve Productivity and Efficiency

History of workflow and workflow management dates back far further than you would imagine.

Workflow isn’t a new modern way of working but one that started many years ago to try and improve productivity and efficiency in manufacturing.

The history of workflow management is actually quite old, dating back to the 19th century, but though these early methods have evolved greatly since then, the core values still drive most business workflow systems today. The primary goal was increasing productivity and efficiency, everyone in business wants to streamline processes to achieve better results and that is where workflow comes in.

History of workflow 1900’s Manufacuturing

Workflow started back in the 1900s in manufacturing to improve industrial efficiency. The concept can be traced to two mechanical engineering pioneers, Frederick Taylor and Henry Gantt. They were an early version of what we know as “project managers” they organised work to improve efficiency, help track work and graphically display the workflow.

Henry Gantt

Henry Laurence Gantt (1861-1919) – American engineer who was the creator of the management tool, the Gantt Chart.

Henry Gantt started out using the harmonogram method, which was an early form of his Gantt chart. Gantt charts were created in the 1910s to visualise workflow and a visual timeline for the manufacturing process to track tasks and milestones in a project. These charts are still being used today to plan, coordinate, and track tasks in major projects.

Frederick Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) – American mechanical engineer writer of the 1911 book, “Principles of Scientific Management.”

Frederick Taylor carried out a time and motion study to measure the amount of time it takes to complete tasks then find ways to eliminate redundant processes. Using this information to define the process employees must follow to perform as efficiently as possible. This formed a major part of scientific management  (Taylorism).

History of Worklow Benefits

The history of workflow is vast and the benefits have been proven over and over again. Cutting costs, identifying inefficiencies, opportunities for automation, and improved communication and collaboration.

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