Manufacturing work orders, on an individual basis, may use either forward or backward scheduling. What does this mean and what are the advantages of using either scheduling technique? Forward scheduling is the most common method of finite scheduling. The start date on an order is where the scheduling process is initiated. Once the shop capacity and route steps are used to calculate how long it will take to schedule the job, an estimated finish date is projected. Generally, forward scheduling is best employed in “build to stock” companies and provides material planning with a date of when items should be available in stock. Backward scheduling is when the “need by” date is used to calculate an order in reverse to determine when it should be started to meet a customer’s deadline. This method is most used in “build to order” companies. Most companies are “mixed mode” meaning that they produce items based on customer orders, and they also build to restock inventory. In ALERE, since you can choose forward or backward scheduling on a work order-by-work order basis, you have the best of both worlds!