In Business, what are Work Systems?

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  • Written By: Osmand Vitez
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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In business, the term "work system" may have different meanings, depending on how companies define their operating environments. A classic definition of this term is the information technology used by a company to complete business functions. With many companies now implementing information or business technology into all areas of their business operations, the definition for work systems has grown to mean any specific task or function completed in a business using technology. The integration of computer technology into regular business functions can increase the company’s ability to streamline business operations and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their production output.

Most companies develop work systems using standard operating procedures or business framework. These procedures and framework usually outline the processes and activities of the system, the individuals involved with operating in or around the system, information gathered during the business function, technologies used in the system and the end result of the work system. This detailed planning function uses a strategic management process during the creation and implementation of work systems.


The creation of a company’s work systems often relate to the management style and organizational structure of a company. Companies using a centralized management style and a tight knit organizational structure may limit the individual work systems within the company. Centralized management often relies on one or a few individuals responsible for completing the specific business functions of the company. Smaller businesses often use a centralized management style for control and work systems because the business owner is usually responsible for completing all or most of the business functions.

Companies using a decentralized management style and open organizational structure usually allow individuals some autonomy to complete various work system functions in the company. Large or publicly held companies often use a decentralized management style, since the organization is too large for one individual to control all work systems involved in business operations. Large companies may choose to separate work systems into various business departments, such as an information system, production system, maintenance system, supply chain system, and sales department system. Separating the work system function into separate business departments can allow company managers to develop a review system to determine if changes need to be made to improve these business operations.

Managers often review the work system to ensure that the system is using economic resources and business assets in the most efficient manner possible when completing its functions. Companies may also employ individuals with specific education or experience relating to information technology systems in business. These individuals are able to assess the business technology side of systems, while managers focus on the operational side.


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