Back-dating is like starting at the center of a maze and working your way outwards instead of starting at the normal exterior point. This term describes a type of scheduling process entirely oriented around established dates for final deliverables. Back-dating may seem like doing things backwards, but it’s actually the logical and often necessary perspective to embrace as a business manager.

Overview: What is back-dating?

The entire production process, including all of the individual operations and tasks, only exist to serve the final goal of delivering something of value to customers. Adopting a perspective that prioritizes the satisfaction of customer needs can open up many powerful new options for managing process flow.

3 benefits of back-dating

Back-dating to establish production and operational schedules has several basic benefits for process management.

1. Focus on value addition

One of the most obvious benefits of back-dating is developing a greater focus on value-added versus non-value-added activities. This is a valuable lesson for any business management team to learn.

2. Customer-oriented process

The very concept of back-dating puts the customer at the center and the beginning of the product process. This gives customers more natural control over their outcomes without causing companies to make uncomfortable shifts in their operations.

3. Realistic scheduling

Back-dating tends to produce more realistic and reliable schedules because it eliminates a lot of the guesswork and risks of empty promises to customers.

Why are back-dates important to understand?

Back-dating is important to understand even if your industry or business model does not necessitate its use.

Know it forwards and backwards

The first thing leaders need to understand is that you need to know your process backwards and forwards to accurately back-date them. Experience and accumulation of usable data are both invaluable assets in this pursuit.

Using industry comparisons

You also have to understand the risks of developing your back-date frameworks based on industry comparisons. Unless their process, personnel and facilities are nearly identical to yours, it could throw the entire estimation way off.

Revisions in reverse

Reverse-engineering your own processes is a major business management hack, but it can also be a stumbling stone. It’s important to understand how to balance perspectives so you can determine whether your set goals really are realistic.

An industry example of a back-date

An industrial manufacturer receives an order from a construction contractor for materials related to the construction of a new office building. The property developers already know when they want to begin construction, so they already know the dates they need each batch of supplies.

To ensure they can meet these scheduling demands, the manufacturer estimates the length of necessary operations based on previous experience. They use back-dating to identify the ideal start date for delivering the final products on-time according to their client’s needs.

3 best practices when thinking about back-dating

Back-dating isn’t a new concept for business leaders at all. It’s all about keeping your focus on the ultimate purpose and value of your processes.

1. Be deliberate about data

Collecting, analyzing and using data never happens by accident. You need to be deliberate about accumulating and utilizing information you gain from each cycle in your improvement processes, otherwise you are missing out on the long-term benefits.

2. Leave margin for error

Tight scheduling is efficient, but it can also create major friction if anything goes wrong. Businesses need to know about the vulnerable parts of their core processes so they can leave an appropriate margin for error when they don’t have complete control over the inputs.

3. Communicate with customers

Clear communications solves a lot of potential problems between businesses and their clients. If anything arises that might jeopardize timely delivery, it’s often better to talk about the problem early and maybe come up with an alternate solution that’s still acceptable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about back-date

When should businesses use back-dating?

Back-dating is appropriate for any business that offers need-based solutions according to customer demand. Direct services and customized products are the most common examples.

What’s the best way to back-date a process?

Back-dating requires intimate knowledge of all the core processes required to deliver a final product or service to the customer. You need to know which processes can occur simultaneously, account for waiting periods and expected delays within individual tasks.

How does back-dating fit in with Six Sigma?

Six Sigma practitioners should be familiar with the concept because of the nature of value-added management and cyclical improvement.

Backwards and forwards

The ability to back-date your deliverables demonstrates a level of mastery over your entire production process. It also means you are ready to embrace a more customer-oriented viewpoint that encourages your organization to become naturally more lean and effective.

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