Method study is a systematic method of analyzing the method of doing a job including human movements involved in it. So it is the process of analyzing the methods involved in work flow to increase productivity. It deals with doing the work in a better way, with less time and effort. That is why it is also termed as work simplification.

Under this study the best method of doing the job is to found out that will incur minimum cost and gives maximum benefit. There is detailed study of whole process of production to make improvements in material handling, transportation, inspection, storage etc. The objective of this study is to minimize the cost of production and maximize the quality and customer satisfaction.

Example: For production of shoes, there can be labor intensive method and machine intensive method. To find out which is best, management must evaluate the cost of production with both the methods and compare both the methods with the available resources of the company. The method which involves minimum cost and exploits maximum resources must be selected as the best method of production.

Ford Motors used this technique very successfully.


The process is described by its main steps of:

  • Select (the work to be studied);
  • Record (all relevant information about that work);
  • Examine (the recorded information);
  • Develop (an improved way of doing things);
  • Install (the new method as standard practice);
  • Maintain (the new standard proactive).


Work selected for method study may be an identified problem area or an identified opportunity. It may be identified through a systematic review of available data, normal monitoring or control processes, high levels of dissatisfaction and complaint or as part of a change in management policy, practice, technology or location, and usually because it meets certain conditions of urgency and/or priority.


Before any method study investigation is begun, it is necessary to establish clear terms of reference which define the aims, scale, scope and constraints of the investigation. This should also include an identification of who “owns” the problem or situation and ways in which such ownership is shared. This may lead to a debate on the aims of the project, on reporting mechanisms and frequencies, and on the measures of success. This process is sometimes introduced as a separate and distinct phase of method study, as the “Define” stage. It leads to a plan for the investigation which identifies appropriate techniques, personnel, and timescale.


The Record stage of method study involves gathering sufficient data (in terms of both quality and quantity) to act as the basis of evaluation and examination. A wide range of techniques are available for recording; the choice depends on the nature of the investigation; the work being studied; and on the level of detail required. Many of the techniques are simple charts and diagrams, but these may be supplemented by photographic and video recording, and by computer based techniques.

Especially with “hard” (clearly defined) problems, method study often involves the construction and analysis of models, from simple charts and diagrams used to record and represent the situation to full, computerized simulations. Manipulation and experimentation on the models lead to ideas for development.


The recorded data are subjected to examination and analysis; formalized versions of this process are critical examination and systems analysis. The aim is to identify, often through a structured, questioning process, those points of the overall system of work that require improvements or offer opportunity for beneficial change.


The Examine stage merges into the Develop stage of the investigation as more thorough analysis leads automatically to identify areas of change. The aim here is to identify possible actions for improvement and to subject these to evaluation in order to develop a preferred solution.

Sometimes it is necessary to identify short-term and long-term solutions so that improvements can be made (relatively) immediately, while longer-term changes are implemented and come to fruition.


The success of any method study project is realized when actual change is made ‘on the ground’ – change that meets the originally specified terms of reference for the project. Thus, the Install phase is very important. Making theoretical change is easy; making real change demands careful planning – and handling of the people involved in the situation under review. They may need reassuring, retraining and supporting through the acquisition of new skills. Install, in some cases, will require a parallel running of old and new systems, in others, it may need the build-up of buffer stocks, and other planning to manage the change. What matters is that the introduction of new working methods is successful. There is often only one chance to make change!


Sometimes after the introduction of new working methods, it is necessary to check that the new method is working, that it is being properly followed, and that it has brought about the desired results. This is the Maintain phase. Method drift is common – when people either revert to old ways of working, or introduce new changes. Some of these may be helpful and should formally be incorporated; others may be inefficient or unsafe. A methods audit can be used to formally compare practice with the defined method and identify such irregularities.

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