Comparison of Manual and Computerized Labor Standards Systems.

There is little difference between a standard developed manually and a standard developed using a computer. Both represent the time to perform a specific task under specific working conditions. Both manual and computerized standards can be used to verify a method, plan a schedule, determine costs, and even measure performance. Although the result may be the same, there are major differences in the process of achieving these results.

There are many benefits to using computers to measure work as opposed to performing the task manually. Foremost is the ability to create and store all information electronically in a central location, typically a database. This database can be shared among users and accessed throughout a facility or over a wide area network. Shared data promotes more accurate, consistent, and efficient development of standards, and simplifies data maintenance.

Manual procedures for developing standards oftentimes lead to inefficient data development because engineers tend not to share the data between departments or facilities. This results in the same or similar work being measured many times over—sometimes with different results.This in turn adversely affects the credibility of all the standards.

When comparing manual and computerized methods for standards development, several factors should be considered, specifically:

● Speed of application
● Ease of standards development
● Consistency and accuracy of standards
● Standards maintenance

Speed of Application. A primary benefit to investing in a computerized labor standards system is the increased engineering efficiency gained by the speed of application. Computerized systems are most effective when used in conjunction with a standard data approach.This combination speeds the development of standards by enabling engineers to reuse data elements rather than remeasuring work. (See Chap. 5.3 for more information on standard data concepts.)

Standard data concepts can be used when developing standards manually, but the benefits realized are not nearly as great due to the limitations of a physical filing system, as opposed to an electronic one. Field studies indicate that computerized applications are three to five times faster than manual applications, depending on the number of standards being developed.

Using manual methods and filing systems to create, store, and maintain standards can be effective if the total number of standards is small. If the purpose is to create 10 or 20 standards, a manual system is probably the most viable option. However, if the total number of standards required is much larger or method and process changes are expected, a computerized system will be more efficient, both in the up-front development and long-term maintenance of the standards.

Ease of Standards Development. Computerized standards systems allow engineers to
develop standards in a fraction of the time it would take them manually. “Drag and drop”
functionality and advanced database queries allow engineers to find and/or add data elements
much faster than manual systems. User-friendly icons, online help, and useful functions such
as custom report options, consistent filing information, and automatic calculations make using
a computer faster and easier than manual standard-setting procedures.
Manual methods for standards development are very clerical in nature and do not provide
a good mechanism for standards tracking and maintenance. Computerized systems eliminate
the clerical aspects by automatically calculating time values, adding allowances, tracking stan-
dards history and performing mass updates.

Consistency and Accuracy of Standards. The use of computers greatly improves the consistency and accuracy of work measurement and standards development. Computer data entry, automatic calculation of standards, menu-driven drop-down lists, and application rules contained within a system all help applicators develop standards consistently and accurately.

These functions eliminate wasted time spent reworking standards, re-creating lost standards, and searching for data.

When using manual systems, engineers are more likely to make simple arithmetic mistakes and also have a much greater chance of misapplying a work measurement rule. It is very difficult to eliminate these types of errors in a manual system.

Standards Maintenance. One database containing all necessary information is much easier to maintain than paper-based filing systems.The amount of time wasted physically searching, filing, and retrieving will often justify the implementation of a computerized system.Applicators can quickly search the database, determine if a standard exists, and have the ability to use, update, replace, or delete the standard.By correctly identifying and using or revising the existing standard rather than creating a new standard, the applicator saves time, and the system remains easy to maintain and use.The result is a smaller and more manageable set of unique standard data and standards.

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