Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

November 2014    |    Volume: 46    |    Number: 11

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers

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Taylor always was ahead of his time

After reading “Exonerating Frederick Taylor” in November’s magazine, I dug into an old book to find this: Experimenters, looking for what determines increasing performance, “manipulated place of work, place and length of rest pauses, length of workweek, methods of payment and a free midmorning lunch.”

Unpublished work by Mr. Taylor? Not at all. The experimenters were led by Harvard’s Elton Mayo, and the manipulations were part of the famous Hawthorne Studies of 1927, which are said to have signaled the beginnings of the human relations movement in management. The irony is that the human-relations-evolving-to-organizational-behavior folks have been prominent among critics of “Taylorism.”

Looks like the same reductionist research methods looking for the same answers to me.

Richard J. Schonberger
Bellevue, Wash.

Division of labor could boost IT, software sectors

I read “Distributing Work for a Revolution” (December 2011) and found it most interesting, especially as it relates to software engineering and project management. This distribution of work typically requires that the project manager, who is skilled in business and accounting and understands the needs of the client or end-user, is the one selected to define the business needs and functional requirements of a software development project.

I haven’t seen software engineers performing this task. Not that they are not skilled in software development, it’s that business clients usually require someone with a specific background in business to represent them and lead their projects from a business perspective and not from an IT/software development, coding or architectural background.

Also, based on the time frame given for a typical software development project, outsourcing outside of the United States still isn’t the best and most effective and efficient method of using the available project resources when that expertise is readily available right here in the U.S., not India, Canada, the United Kingdom or other countries. While the advent of the Internet age with its high connection and downloading speeds would seem to eliminate location as a deciding factor, in reality, it still is.

I agree that with division of labor there can be millions of additional people working in information systems and software development, and it doesn’t matter where these jobs are located. Everyone can benefit from this, especially in well-planned and executed long-term projects that require specific expertise.

William Woloschuk
Managing principal
SCS Consulting International
Ontario, Calif.

Bring order to software development

Murali Chemuturi’s article, “Distributing Work for a Revolution” in December’s Industrial Engineer also applies to business analysis and requirements engineering. Anyway, they are emerging as independent specializations.

It is an excellent summary of the evolution of engineering and industrial/production engineering, the lessons of which have not been applied to software engineering. Misunderstanding sound engineering principles and irrational aversion for systematic and disciplined thinking and work, along with misapplication of multiskilling and versatility have done a lot of damage to software engineering, spawning a slew of ill-conceived, half-backed methodologies and processes.

This article is a fresh breeze of old wisdom that can re-engineer software engineering. I hope this gathers into a storm and blows out the maladies afflicting software engineering.

I have a question for the industrial engineering profession as a whole. Why have you not made a systematic study of software engineering from the industrial engineering point of view? Why have you allowed it to be such a bundle of nonrepeatable ad hoc processes, contradictions, inefficiencies, uncontrolled cost and time overshoots, particularly when there are no material defects and so no aging, and [there is] no manufacturing and so no manufacturing defects? Are not the TQM principles, which I understand have flown from industrial engineering, applicable to software engineering?

Please take a look at business analysis, requirements engineering and software engineering and give the benefit that all other branches of engineering got from industrial/production engineering.

Putcha V. Narasimham
Knowledge Enabler Systems
Hyderabad, India

Correction

The article “New Times for Manufacturing and Design” in the November Focus section (Page 58) listed an incorrect designation for the acronym ASME. It stands for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

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