Feedforward Control: How Managers Uses Feedforward Control

Managers need feedforward control.

Feedforward control is a mechanism in a system for preventing problems before they occur by monitoring performance inputs and reacting to maintain an identified level.

It is now increasingly recognized that control must be directed towards the future to be effective. Knowing about deviations long after they occur is useless.

What managers need for effective control is a system that will tell them well in time for corrective action and that problems will occur if they do not do something about them now.

Feedback from the output of a system is not good enough for control. It is little more than a post-mortem, and no manager can ever change the past. Manager’s need feed-forward control.

Requirements for Feedforward Control

In short, the requirements for a workable feed-forward control system are:

  1. Making a thorough and careful analysis of the planning and control systems.
  2. Developing a model of the system.
  3. Reviewing the model regularly to see whether the input variables identified’ and their inter-relationships continue to represent realities.
  4. Collecting data on input variables regularly, and putting them into the system.
  5. Assessing regularly the variations of actual input data from planned for inputs, and evaluating the impact on the expected result.
  6. Taking action to solve problems.

Techniques of Future-directed Control

The most common technique some managers resort to is the use of forecasts based on the latest available information.

By comparing what is desired with the forecasts, managers can introduce program changes that will make the forecasts more promising.

Another technique is to plan carefully in advance the availability of cash to meet requirements.

Managers would hardly find it wise, for example, to wait for a report at the end of December to determine whether they had enough cash in the bank to cover checks issued in November.

Yet, another technique is network planning, exemplified by PERT (Programme Evaluation and Review Technique) networks which enable managers to see that they will have problems in such areas as cost or on-time delivery unless they take action now.

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