History of Business Processes

3 Min Read
History of Business Processes

Many people think of business processes as a new idea but business processes have changed the World of manufacturing a long time ago.

The history of business processes goes back many years with the first example in the seventeen hundreds and the production of a simple pin. Moving on the production of motor cars which process optimisation opened the option of car ownership to everyone not just the wealthy.

Improving processes can significantly increase efficiency and productivity leading to reduced costs and increased profits.

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First Business Process

Processes are a lot more interesting than you think and used to increase productivity as Scottish economist Adam Smith in his famous example of the production of a pin in a factory explains.

”One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another … and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.”

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) economist, philosopher and author

Process Optimisation Division of Labour

Discovering how the output could be increased by dividing work into sets of simple checklist tasks which would be performed by specialised workers.

Dividing work into a set of simple tasks output could be increased through the use of labour division.

Task division was set at appropriate levels to skills and division by experimenting with the production process.

In this experiment the division of labour resulted in productivity increasing by 24,000%, i.e. the workers made 240 times as many pins than before labour division.

History of Business Processes that Increased Productivity

Frederick Winslow Taylor – Improved industrial processes and documented in his book The Principles of Scientific Management calling it also Taylorism Theory which focused on standardisation of processes in the early twentieth century.

Henry Ford Assembly line –  The evolution of mass production with the first moving assembly line revolutionised the manufacturing processes. Instead of one artisan creating a product alone, everyone was taught to do one of 84 simple repetitive jobs.

Toyota and their Toyota Lean Manufacturing processes which started in the sixties which inspired many more businesses to embrace the idea of continuous improvement of business processes.

The history of business processes is fascinating and still influences business in this modern world. 

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