Resources - Quality Systems

Work Flow Analysis

Description A WFA examines the work process for possible improvements in performance and quality of work life. This technique is really a special case of flowcharting. The goal is to overcome the excuses for not changing work habits on the part of the employee as well as management. Such excuses are, "It has always been done this way," and "It's not my responsibility."

Application The analysis is performed in an employee/management partnership, where the goal for each party is to improve productivity as well as the quality of work life. The technique will work if executed by a partnership of management and employees.

Procedures A WFA is performed in the following manner:

  1. Collect data concerning the operation being analyzed. This can be done by observing the operation or asking questions, but not by reading an operations plan that would tell how the operation is supposed to be done.
  2. Flowchart the process.
  3. Research and collect ideas on how to improve the operation from any sources available.
  4. Define the desired performance versus the actual performance.
  5. Identify the gaps in performance and propose changes to eliminate these gaps.
  6. Analyze these changes by using a multifunctional team.
  7. Once the changes are agreed upon, prototype them on a small basis in a certain area or shift.
  8. Once the bugs are ironed out and the changes are operating smoothly, implement them on a large-scale basis.
  9. Flowchart the new operation and revise the operating procedure documentation to reflect the changes.

Advantages The technique may increase productivity and improve working conditions.


  1. The technique requires cooperation between employees and management to be most successful.
  2. The observed operation may not be fully representative of a "typical" process that would occur without scrutiny.

Source: System Engineering "Toolbox" for Design-Oriented Engineers, Sec 7. - NASA/RP-1358

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