What is Forward Scheduling and How Can It Help?

Forward scheduling is a type of planning designed to finish a project as soon as possible, starting now and ideally finishing before a set date. Many businesses use forward scheduling when they want to get the most efficient use of their workforce and other resources.

What is Forward Scheduling?

It is a method of fulfilling purchased orders as quickly as possible. In this process, the manufacturer estimates the delivery time to their clients. Forward scheduling is a simple method in which seller does their best to hand over the purchased item at the earliest time. This method is widely used in the case of serial productions to schedule production at the best possible time. 

For example, you own a meal delivery service. You received a special request from your clients to deliver a meal kit early. At this point, forward scheduling strategies help you meet the expectations of your clients.

Backward Scheduling Definition

It is a process where customers set the delivery date and request the seller to deliver the parcel at their preferred time. In most cases, the delivery schedule is postponed as per customer request. The delivery crew will hand over the parcel only when the client is available at their location.

It is mainly used for a sales forecast and to increase customer expectations. Allowing a customer to set a delivery date may not affect the entire production. It is also known as reverse scheduling in which production is scheduled as per a customer-given deadline.

How Does Forward Scheduling Work?

Forward scheduling is the scheduling of a project moving forward from a defined start date. The goal of this production process is to complete each task on the schedule depending on material availability. 

When resources are available, the task is completed. If relevant resources are not yet available, the task is put on hold – and the project on pause – until the availability of resources. Each new task is initiated as soon as the previous one is completed.

Creating a forward schedule is relatively simple. You line up all the tasks in order as per available human resources.

6 Advantages of Forward Scheduling

There are several advantages of forward scheduling, especially in certain circumstances. Here are a half dozen of them.

1. Easier to Plan

Creating a forward schedule is much easier than creating a backward schedule. In essence, all you have to do is line up all the tasks from beginning to end, recognizing key dependencies. The tasks don’t necessarily have to have dates associated with them, although the projected transit time to accomplish each task is worth nothing. Start the schedule today and let it flow forward. It’s that simple.

Contrast with that creating a backward schedule, where you start on the due date and assemble the tasks in reverse order from there. In a reverse schedule, not only are dependencies important but so is the timing of each component task. Only when you add up processing time to complete each task do you get the total time to complete the project – and, working backward from the due date, the drop-dead date you need to start.

Where you may need delivery scheduling software to create a backward schedule, a forward schedule can be created with a simple online calendar app. That said, production scheduling software, such as Upper Route Planner, can make creating either flexible delivery time much easier and should be considered if your company has a large number of projects.

2. Better Utilizes Labor Force

Forward scheduling does a good job of utilizing your existing workforce. Laborers idle between other jobs can be reassigned to forward-scheduled jobs, thus minimizing downtime. Likewise, workers on forward-scheduled jobs can be redeployed to other, more urgent projects if necessary. Labor is not permanently fixed to a forward-scheduled job, which offers flexible scheduling– and a high labor utilization rate.

3. Minimizes Slack Time

Because resources can be redistributed when workloads change, forward scheduling helps to minimize slack time. It’s similar to the way this production scheduling process maximizes the use of your labor force; it makes the best use of your company’s fixed resources – warehouse space, supplies, machines, and so forth. Resources don’t have to sit idle when a forward-scheduled job is available. In addition, this process allows you to redirect resources when orders increase, thus maximizing capacity.

4. Enables Slotting of Additional Work

When you’re using forward scheduling, it’s easy to slot in additional work – and thus earn some incremental revenue. This form of scheduling gives you more room to accommodate more jobs. Unexpected projects can temporarily displace less-important forward-scheduled jobs without impacting promised finish dates. It’s a matter of redirecting resources as needed to take on new orders, which forward scheduling enables you to do.

5. Increases Odds of Finishing Early

Even though forward-scheduled jobs can be moved around on the schedule to better utilize resources and capacity, the reality is that these orders quite often finish ahead of any promised due dates. a forward-scheduled job will likely be completed earlier than planned.

6. Easily Integrates with Other Platforms

Because forward scheduling is essentially calendar-based, it’s easy to integrate with any of your existing platforms and systems, such as SAP and Salesforce.com. You can even do your forward scheduling on a simple online calendar, such as Google Calendar.

How Forward Scheduling Differs from Backward Scheduling

Forward scheduling differs from the other common type of project scheduling, backward scheduling. In forward scheduling, you work forward from the start date. In backward scheduling, you plan backward from the desired completion date.

With backward scheduling, you might not start a job immediately, even if capacity is available. All tasks are planned from the end date backward. Estimating the length of time it will take to complete each task, you generate a schedule that tells you when you need to start each task and the entire project. There is little benefit to starting any task earlier than scheduled.

Backward scheduling gives you time to order all necessary components and plan work for each task. A forward scheduling system, in contrast, takes advantage of resources when available. Forward-scheduled projects are often completed before the due dates or as early as possible; backward-scheduled projects are designed to hit the due dates exactly.

With forward scheduling, you begin with the start date and add to it the time for all component tasks; this gives you the estimated due or shipping date. With backward scheduling, you start with the day in which it’s due, typically requested by the customer, and subtract from it the time for all component tasks to calculate the start date.

Choosing Between the Two

Logistics coordinators can choose between forward and backward scheduling for different types of projects. Forward scheduling is ideal when the client is flexible about the due date or wants the finished goods as soon as possible. It’s also good if the most common resources are readily available. Backward scheduling is preferred when a customer has a firm delivery date for a delivery or project and when specific resources need to be ordered or capacity arranged.

If your business relies on SAP, it’s possible to set up forward scheduling in SAP. It’s also possible to set up backward scheduling or a mix of backward and forward scheduling.

Which is a Better Option: Forward or Backward Scheduling?

Forward scheduling and backward scheduling both are on an equal footing which means neither one has an edge over other. Some logistics companies may even benefit using these two scheduling techniques. However, when it comes to choosing the better option, it depends on what services you offer and how do you manage delivery schedules. 

If you are running a company where you get numerous ordered at regular intervals, backward scheduling would be the right pick. But, if you are on a dry run, you can choose forward scheduling to stabilize production orders according to resource availability.

The effective way of choosing one among these two is to use delivery management software. By doing so, you will have accurate scheduling practices no matter which method of scheduling you use. Hence, it depends on various factors to find which one is ideal for your company.

When Does Forward Scheduling Comes into Effect?

Forward scheduling isn’t suited for all types of projects. There are several distinct disadvantages to this process; certain situations favor backward scheduling instead.

Let’s take one of the scheduling examples, if a customer needs a definite due date, forward scheduling won’t ensure it; in this instance, backward scheduling is recommended. Backward scheduling is also best if you want to produce your goods at the last possible moment before the due date and save on operational costs.

With that in mind, here are some of the more notable disadvantages of this scheduling process:

  • If a job is completed too far before its due date, you may incur inventory costs to store the finished product before delivery.
  • Using resources as jobs come into the pipeline could cause material shortages for jobs with a higher priority or shorter due date.
  • You can also run into materials shortages if demand increases before you can restock materials used from the forward-scheduled job.
  • Higher demand can also result in longer manufacturing lead time that can adversely affect lower-priority forward-scheduled jobs.
  • While forward scheduling is good for filling the gaps in your capacity, too many of these jobs can make it difficult to shift resources on time when higher-priority jobs arise.

Implementing Forward Scheduling with Upper Route Planner

Forward scheduling, when used by itself or in conjunction with backward scheduling, you gain more control over your costs, revenues, and smooth workflow.

Implementing forward scheduling is as easy as adding tasks to a calendar when you are on Upper. Using advanced software features, it would be easier for the user to perform forward scheduling. At Upper, you just need to drop a CSV file, and the rest of the things will be completed via an automated process.  

Moreover, it won’t take long to find delivery routes. As a result, you can fulfill forward scheduling requests in one go. Upper allows you to plan delivery schedules for months in advance and reminds you before the actual delivery day. 

This is how forward scheduling is done easier with Upper.

  • Firstly, import the spreadsheet containing delivery data and let the system fetch all of them.
  • Decide by which scheduling method you want to go ahead with.
  • Enter the “My Routes” section for planning routes and include extra stops.
  • Schedule deliveries while setting up priorities and service time required for the delivery crew.
  • Optimize routes with the help of a route planner before moving to the dispatch section.
  • Share a link to delivery drivers to receive delivery status updates and follow optimal routes.
  • Following the admin command, forward scheduling will be performed in a timely manner.

Upper makes things simpler for you so that forward scheduling doesn’t become a complex process for your team. Such smooth forward scheduling will impress your client as well. Slowly and steadily, Upper improves the delivery efficiency.

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FAQ

For instance, you are running a meal-kit delivery business. A professional worker places a food order but wants their food as quickly as possible. In this case, forward scheduling comes into the effect to meet the customer’s demands.

Forward scheduling method is widely used for serial production planning to meet production deadlines in a very short time. Nowadays, major logistics firms and small delivery companies use the forward scheduling technique.

To improve forward scheduling, you should stick to safety protocol by scanning potential hazards and regular quality checks in your production house. If you suspect any scheduling issues, immediately take them down using an expert’s advice. You can also use advanced delivery management software to carry out delivery scheduling task.

Below are methods used for project scheduling.

  • Critical Path Method (CPM)
  • Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
  • Resource-Leveling Heuristics
  • Gantt Chart
  • Calendar

Conclusion

Forward scheduling is a simple technique but you may require a standby team to complete it. This is an early process where the customer expects delivery as soon as the parcel is out from the manufacturing hub. However, if you find it difficult to perform this form of scheduling, we suggest you adopt the right delivery management software like Upper. 

We studied everything about forward scheduling and its 6 advantages before we shed light on the difference between forward and backward scheduling. Now, you won’t misunderstand between forward and backward scheduling. If you are into delivery services, book a demo with us and perform hassle-free delivery scheduling.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.

https://www.upperinc.com/guides/forward-scheduling/