What is Scientific Management

The evolution of management thoughts has always been fascinating. Several writers and management thinkers have studied principles of management from time to time. There are mainly two angles of management study- one based on administrative principles, and the other one is the scientific angle.

Fredrick Taylor is popularly known as the FATHER OF SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT. He is known for the coinage of this term in his article- The Principles of Scientific Management published in 1911. In his words, the term means – knowing exactly what future leaders want to do and how to do it in the best and cheapest way. The primary focus is on achieving Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Economy of the business operations. It implies conducting business activities according to standardized tools, methods and trained personnel to increase output, improve quality, and reduce costs and waste.

The theory of Scientific management, as described by Taylor, is based on the following principles-

  1. There is only one best way to perform a particular task. The traditional method of applying RULE OF THUMB by seniors and the Trial and Error approach is unacceptable.
  2. This kind of management can only be implemented if there is harmony in the organization.
  3. People from all levels of management, along with the workmen, should cooperate in the implementation. The concept of Individualism should not be prevalent in the organization.
  4. Ensuring the growth and prosperity of every person working in the organization.

The theory is split into two main parts –

1. Functional Foremanship

The foreman plays a major role in factory operations. Thus, the foreman must possess some good qualities. However, a single person cannot be expected to have all the qualities. Therefore, there should be two main Incharges under the factory manager – Planning In-charge and Production In-charge.  The Planning In-charge should have 4 people under him– Instruction Card Clerk, Route Clerk, Time and Cost Clerk, Disciplinarian. The Production In-charge should have 4 people under him – Speed Boss, Gang Boss, Repairs Boss, and Inspector.

  1.  Work Study – This involves the systematic analysis of the following aspects of factory operations –
  2. Method Study – The objective is to find out one best way of doing a job. Taylor devised the concept of Assembly Line using the method study.
  3. Motion Study – On close examinations of various body motions, it is possible to find out –a. Productive motions b.Incidental motions c.Unproductive motions.
  4. Time Study – To determine the standard time taken to perform a well-defined job. The objective is to determine the number of workers to be employed,  incentive schemes, and labor costs.
  5. Fatigue Study – It seeks to determine the amount and frequency of rest intervals in completing a task.
  6. Differential Piece Wage System– After analyzing the operations, it is essential to determine which employees are efficient and accordingly rewarded for their performance.

Let us also get through a few other theories which are based on the scientific approach-

Total Production Management 

It is the system of maintaining and improving the integrity of production and quality systems. It helps keep the equipment in top working condition to avoid breakdown and delays in the manufacturing process.

The eight pillars of TPM are as under-.

  1. Foundation– It starts with 5S. Organizing the workplace for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing items used, maintaining the area and items used, and sustaining the new order.

Techniques- Seiri(Sort), Seiton(Set in Order), Seiso(shine), Seiketsu(standardise), Shitsuke(sustain).

  1. Autonomous Maintenance–  With employee participation, eliminate defects at the source.
  2. Focussed Improvement– Make minor improvements continuously, reduce losses in the workplace that affect efficiencies.
  3. Planned Maintenance– It is a proper maintenance system adopted to improve the reliability and maintainability of equipment. It aims to have zero breakdowns at optimum maintenance cost.
  4. Early Equipment Management– Focus on shortening time required for product and equipment development.
  5. Quality maintenance– Work towards achieving customer satisfaction through delivery of the highest quality product.
  6. Education and Training – Aims to improve knowledge,skills and enhance the morale of employees.
  7. Safety Health Environment- Safety of workers is most important. It aims at zero accidents and zero health damage.

Performance Measurement – Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) 

Six major losses are to be identified – 

  1. Losses Affecting Availability –
    • Equipment breakdown
    • Set up/ Adjustment time
  2. Losses Due To Efficiencies
    • Idling and minor stoppages
    • Reduced Speed
  3. Losses Affecting quality
    • Reduced Yield
    • Quality defects and rework

The formula for OEE is, therefore, = Performance *Availability*Quality

Kaizen Costing 

Kaizen is a practice of continual improvement. Continuous improvement is the continual examination and improvement of existing processes. Small, incremental changes are routinely applied and sustained over a long period, resulting in significant improvements. It includes the elimination of waste in the production, assembly, and distribution processes and the eliminating work steps in any of these areas.


  1. Gradually make improvements in the existing situation at an acceptable cost.
  2. Setting standards and then continuously improving the standards to achieve long-term sustainable improvements.
  3. Involve all employees and all areas of business.
  4. Focus on eliminating waste, improving the system, and improving productivity.
  5. Not placing any limits to the level of improvements that can be implemented.
  6. Encourages collective decision-making and application of knowledge.

Six Sigma 

It was introduced in Motorola in 1986 and became well known when it became a business strategy at General Electric in 1995.

It is based on the concept of mapping defects in a process, so that a company can identify ways to eliminate them and practically achieve zero defects.

Sigma refers to a statistical term that measures how much a process deviates from perfection.  The higher the sigma number, the closer the process is to perfection.

Six Sigma is 3.4 defects per million opportunities, i.e., getting things right 99.99966% of the time.

At 1 sigma, the percentage of defective is 69, and at six sigma, it is 0.0034%.

Process Innovation

It means implementing a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. The process of innovating new solutions could fall into one of these areas.

  1. PRODUCTION- It is related to processes, equipment, and technology to enhance manufacturing or production processes. It includes computer software.
  2. DELIVERY- It includes tools, techniques, and software solutions to help in supply chains and delivery systems. Example – Bar Code, Tracking system, shipping software, and others.
  3. SUPPORT SERVICES- It includes purchasing, accounting, and maintenance.


Scientific Management replaced the earlier ad hoc rules system, which was usually based on the manager’s bias, preference, or style. They couldn’t be applied across industries. However, scientific management changed that. Enrolling in a management course from Great Learning can help you upskill and move further ahead in your career.

There are many such theories developed by many management thinkers and successfully implemented in corporations and other businesses. It is ultimately the business operations that will determine the success of any organization as a whole.

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