Forty-two years seems like an extended time…My first office job started just that way back, and it had been a far different world from what we sleep in today.

Interestingly, it had been not so different from a business perspective on how we ran and managed the business. It had been just all done, for the foremost part, manually.

"In today’s world, data collection, budgeting, cost calculations including burden rates, ledger postings then on, is usually highly automated utilizing sophisticated software and hardware devices"

As a manufacturer, we utilized a totally absorbed activity-based standard cost system for inventory valuation. This extended in giving rise to credits (labor and overhead) for manufacturing activity, through to analyzing variances at the departmental level for exception-based management.

Sound familiar? It should, as this is often still the elemental approach most high-volume manufacturers use today.

In today’s world, data collection, budgeting, cost calculations including burden rates, ledger postings then on, are typically highly automated utilizing sophisticated software and hardware devices alongside various means of “Identity” like bar codes, RFID tags, etc.

In the “old” world, everything was operated with a pencil, paper, and calculators. Every movement of fabric, be it issues for usage or production from a line, was recorded on a private transaction slip. This required users to write down down the item number, the number of cases, the number per case, and therefore the lot number also as any order references.

At every opportunity, all of those transactions were proven by a person, normally through staging areas, where a transaction would place the item within the area, and a person would transact them to the following location or activity. This had to be done because the system validations we build into our systems today obviously didn't exist.

We were ready to achieve inventory and transactional accuracy like today, but it had been entirely processed supported by a physical perspective.

Budgeting was a herculean task. If you've got ever constructed an activity-based standard cost system, imagine doing so, strictly with pencil and paper.

Ironically, from my viewpoint, a big point of difference with a physical environment was that folks automatically gained a deep understanding of how these things worked and “fit” together when it came to managing the business. You’ll not do the calculations manually without a real understanding of the concepts behind them.

This is the environment from which I learned all of those concepts and principles, and that I am actually grateful that I learned them during a “manual” world. Today, this sort of learning is elusive with the dependence on systems to handle the concepts and complex calculations behind them.

What has also changed is speed, especially the speed that decisions are made.

In the days when communication was by phone, letters and telex machines (Google “telex” or “twx” millennials,) the pace of deciding was much slower and much more contemplative.

Today, decisions are anticipated at the pace of email traffic, while email itself, in many environments, has become a swamp of what are often useless opinions and debates expressed in impersonal ways.

I am a proponent of Technology, obviously. Nevertheless, I will be able to also venture the opinion that companies who assess and understand the impact of technology on learning, collaboration, and private relationships (as well as and the maximum amount as a process) are going to be the higher for it.