How Often Should You Evaluate Engineered Standards?

Engineered standards are key to implementing production planning, management reporting, incentive structures, and individual accountability.  Standards are developed using techniques that create fair expectations of the output projected over a specific time frame.

The approaches to develop standards include traditional work measurement, random sampling, standardized systems like MOST, and the utilization of historical data.  I personally like to use work measurement in conjunction with historical data to help validate my findings.

Depending on the complexity of the work being done, it can take as little as a few days, to as long as a few months to develop comprehensive and fair standards.  Once the standards are created, implemented, and put to work as a baseline for efficiencies, it is incredibly important to ensure they MAINTAIN fairness and objectivity.  This means re-evaluating on a periodic basis.  So then the question becomes: How often should you evaluate engineered standards?

The answer is relatively simple and based on common sense.  First and foremost, anytime work content is changed in any significant manner we need to recalculate the standards based on that new scenario.  This is important in order to maintain the fairness of the standards, particularly if utilized for incentive.
The second way to time an evaluation is based on performance against the existing standards.  In other words, since you are measuring performance and comparing the results to the standards, you will notice fluctuations in the results.  If those variabilities begin to fall outside of the historical norms, it is a good prompt to check the standards for changes.   You may notice the standard has become too easy to achieve, or maybe your team can no longer meet the expectations.

Regardless of what prompts reevaluation, it is important to determine why the results are changing and adjust accordingly.  Some subtle factors that may affect results include:

  •  Different materials are being used, like packaging that is more difficult or easier to fold, changes in vendors, or use of new components or products.
  •  The workforce has become acclimated to the work and 100% standard has increased due to training or learning curve.  This can be tricky.  Be careful of new trainees and use a time based standard to get to a new 100% for new employees.
  •  Small incremental work content changes, like additional labels, production recording, or paperwork changes.
  • In any case, it is important to maintain fair and objective standards for both your management team and your employees.  I have always said, “bad standards are worse than no standards….”  Once you have your expectations in place, keep your eyes open for valid reasons to reevaluate your engineered standards.


Jim Zimmerman, COO