Control can focus on events before, during, or after a process. For example, a local automobile dealer can focus on activities before, during, or after sales of new cars. Careful inspection of new cars and cautious selection of sales employees are ways to ensure high quality or profitable sales even before those sales take place. Monitoring how salespeople act with customers is a control during the sales task. Counting the number of new cars sold during the month and telephoning buyers about their satisfaction with sales transactions are controls after sales have occurred. These types of controls are formally called feedforward, concurrent, and feedback, respectively.
- Feedforward controls, sometimes called preliminary or preventive controls, attempt to identify and prevent deviations in the standards before they occur. Feedforward controls focus on human, material, and financial resources within the organization. These controls are evident in the selection and hiring of new employees. For example, organizations attempt to improve the likelihood that employees will perform up to standards by identifying the necessary job skills and by using tests and other screening devices to hire people with those skills.
- Concurrent controls monitor ongoing employee activity to ensure consistency with quality standards. These controls rely on performance standards, rules, and regulations for guiding employee tasks and behaviors. Their purpose is to ensure that work activities produce the desired results. As an example, many manufacturing operations include devices that measure whether the items being produced meet quality standards. Employees monitor the measurements; if they see that standards are not being met in some area, they make a correction themselves or let a manager know that a problem is occurring.
- Feedback controls involve reviewing information to determine whether performance meets established standards. For example, suppose that an organization establishes a goal of increasing its profit by 12 percent next year. To ensure that this goal is reached, the organization must monitor its profit on a monthly basis. After three months, if profit has increased by 3 percent, management might assume that plans are going according to schedule.