Types of control

Management can implement controls before an activity commences, while the activity is going on, or after the activity has been completed. The first type is called feed forward control, the second is concurrent control, and the last is feedback control.

What is Feed forward Control?

The most desirable type of control feed forward control – prevents anticipated problems because it takes place in advance of the actual activity. Its future directed for instance, six years before McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in India, it started working with local Indian companies to develop products that would meet its rigorous quality standards. It even shared its advanced agricultural and drip irrigation technologies with lettuce farmers in Ooty, Pune, Delhi and other regions to help them to grow high quality lettuce all the year round. Why? Because McDonald’s strongly emphasizes product quality no matter what the geographical location. It wants a cheese burger in New Delhi to taste like one in Hartford, Connecticut. Another example of feed forward control is the scheduled aircraft maintenance programs done by the major airlines. These programs are designed o detect, and it’s hoped, prevent structural damage that might lead to an airline disaster.

The key to feed forward control, therefore is taking managerial action before problem occurs. Feed forward controls allow management to prevent problems rather than having to cure them later. Unfortunately these controls require timely and accurate information that is often difficult to develop. As a result managers frequently have to use one of the other two types of control.

When Is Concurrent control used?

Concurrent Control: Control that takes place while an activity is in progress.

Concurrent control, as its name implies, takes place while an activity is in progress. When control is enacted while the work is being performed management can correct problems before they become too costly.

The best known form of concurrent control is direct supervision. When a manager directly oversees the actions of an employee, the manager can concurrently monitor the employee’s actions and correct problems as they occur. Although some delay between the activity and the manager’s corrective response is inevitable the delay is minimal. Technical equipment (such as computers and computerized machine controls) can be designed to include concurrent controls. For example, you may have experienced concurrent control when using computer program such as word processing that alerts you to be misspelled word or incorrect grammatical usage. In addition, many organizational quality programs rely on concurrent controls to inform workers about whether their work output is of sufficient quality to meet standards.

Why is feedback Control so popular?

Feedback control: Control that takes place after an action.

The most popular type of control relies on feedback. The control takes place after the action. The control report that shows used for assessing TV sales is an example of feedback control.

The major drawback of this type of control is that by the time the manager has the information the damage has already been done. It’s analogous to locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen. But for many activities feedback is the only viable type of control available. For example, financial statements are an example of feedbacks controls. If, for instance the income statement shows that sales revenues are declining the decline has already occurred. So at this point, the manager’s only option is to try to determine why sales decreased and to correct the situation.

Feedback has two advantages over feed forward and concurrent control. First feedback providers managers with meaningful information on the effectiveness of their planning effort. Feedback that indicates little variance between standard and actual performance is evidence that planning was generally on target. If the deviation is great a manager can use that information to make new plans more effective. Second, feedback control can enhance employee’s motivation. People want information on how well they have performed. Feedback control provides that information.