businessBusiness Coachingbusiness growthconsultantERPFinanceProcess Improvementsmall-businessForward Scheduling Vs. Backward Scheduling + Key Differences

October 11, 2021by Mikerash0
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When you miss deadlines, you lose customers. 

This fact is evident across all industries and throughout various sectors, whether you are in the business of delivering food, shipping products, or performing installation services, customers anticipate that you will deliver your product/service on time. 

Fortunately, to avoid delivery-related delays and interruptions, two proven scheduling strategies exist to help you track your deadlines, preserve customer satisfaction, and gain repeat sales.

These methods are Forward Scheduling and Backward Scheduling.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits, differences, and other key features of these scheduling methods. 

The Importance of Scheduling

The fundamental purpose in maintaining effective scheduling helps streamline your manufacturing processes while maximizing your resources to complete operations within a specific timeframe.  

Research repeatedly demonstrates that insufficient scheduling leads to employee multitasking – which disrupts production. 

On the other hand, if done properly, it helps you efficiently fulfill your scheduled orders while helping you avoid undesired interruptions and direct stress. 

The two main concepts being forward scheduling and backward scheduling.

But what are these two scheduling practices?

It is challenging to overestimate the role production scheduling plays in the effective functioning of a company.

Every business must continuously ensure that it utilizes it’s resources sufficiently while completing orders on time. Company assets, workers’ time, and equipment must be properly managed to ensure that expenses don’t outweigh profits and that customer expectations are regularly met.

Production schedules are created to detail when specific workers should use specific equipment and materials to make a specific product. Companies can use either forward or backward scheduling to allocate resources, plan production, and make the necessary purchases that go into fulfilling customer orders.

Forward Scheduling

Forward scheduling is planning to complete a task as soon as possible, according to the scope of necessary resources. Tasks are scheduled in the order that they arrive and production starts once the manufacturing order is created.

For example, let’s say you run a pool cleaning company and a client approaches you saying they need their pool cleaned the last week of May. Using forward scheduling, you would schedule this client’s maintenance appointment for the first open appointment slot within that last week of May to complete the job as soon as possible. 

Forward scheduling answers the question “What is the earliest that production can start?”

However, just as straightforward this approach is, it may not be your best option if you make to order according to a sales forecast. You may find yourself with crowded storage space if a lot of orders are filled long before they need to be shipped. Furthermore, you may find that other orders go overdue because the requested delivery date was not considered while planning.

Longer lead times as production is always scheduled to capacity which cannot be increased when new orders come in.

Risk of material stock-outs due to materials being consumed in advance. When an unexpected high-priority order comes in, there might not be enough of the necessary materials available to fulfill the order.

There is little room for rush orders – a rush order could derail the current production, procurement, and delivery schedule.

Benefits of Forward Scheduling

The straightforward basis of forward scheduling offers some convincing benefits, but it may also become a disadvantage in some environments.

  • Easy manual scheduling
  • High rate of labor and machinery utilization

What is Backward Scheduling?

Backward scheduling – reverse scheduling, is where production orders are scheduled according to the clients’ requested delivery dates. When a customer/client places an order and requests a specific deadline, production is scheduled so that the order is adequately fulfilled by this given time. 

Essentially, backward scheduling answers the question “When is the latest that production can start to fulfill the order in time?”

Manually done, it is a cumbersome task to make sure that every single operation gets planned correctly. That is why companies that want to employ this scheduling approach need to make use of an effective ERP system that makes sure that all orders are scheduled so that they are filled just in time. When a requested delivery date is not attainable, the software will instantly let you know.

Benefits of Backward Scheduling

Although backward scheduling follows a more complex model than forward scheduling, there are some substantial advantages to using it. These benefits include:

  • Lower inventory levels 
  • Lower inventory holding costs.
  • Increased production capabilities
  • Shorter lead times
  • Flexible delivery time for customer- increases customer satisfaction

“Which Method Should I Choose?”

As demonstrated above, both scheduling methods have their benefits.

But which one is best for you?

This entirely depends on what and how you manufacture. To understand which method to use, MCDA CCG, recommends that you ask and answer these two questions for yourself:

A. What type of manufacturing process does your business follow?
B. How do you prefer to organize your schedules?

By answering the questions above, you can better determine which process if right for you.

However, it’s helpful to know that these two methods of scheduling can also be mixed. Companies can use different methods for different situations. Let’s say that a large number of orders unexpectedly come in; here, you can use backward scheduling to sort them out by their due dates.

Then, when orders start to level again, you can return to forward scheduling to better maximize your production capacity and available resources.

The best way to learn more about your scheduling is to utilize and maintain a scheduling software. By using a modern ERP system, you can use either approach while ensuring optimal scheduling at all times. The software accounts for all ins and outs of the process so you don’t have to.

It doesn’t stop there.

More than choosing a system, you must ensure that your ERP software implementation delivers on-time, within budget, and can sufficiently overcome future digital revolutions.

Our team of professionals here at MCDA CCG are fully equipped to provide your organization those in it with customized consulting and training imperative to optimize your software solution.

Or, if you already have an ERP software solution that you are satisfied with, consider reaching out to one of our consultants to perform a Fit-Gap Analysis to help you see if and where any challenges or weaknesses lie. Furthermore, we offer a wide range of innovative customization services that can leverage your current systems in powerful ways.

Call our office today (headquartered in Placentia, Orange County, California) for a no-obligation discussion to see how we can help you reinforce your position!


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