Workflow - brief history

The modern history of workflow can be traced to Frederick Taylor. At the end of the 19th century, he created the Scientific Management approach (also known as Taylorism). His approach intended to improve organization of work and labor productivity by analyzing and establishing workflow processes. His approach was documented and applied mostly in the context of manufacturing.

Since its creation, the Taylorism has had a huge impact on organizational structure, management and the workforce. However it has been often criticized, most commonly for: emphasizing the individual instead of groups or teams; leaving no room for individual preferences or initiative; treating people as machines; and separating planning from execution. As a response to some of these criticisms, newer workflow improvement theories have been implemented in the modern workplace. These include: Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, Business Process Re-engineering, and Lean Thinking.

The ideas of Taylorism have also influenced software development. Similar to the innovations above, Agile is a reaction from the developer community to the application of traditional industrial practices that have been standard since the 70s.