Introduction to Management Control Systems

05/05/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

Horngreen, Datar and Foster define management control system “as a means of gathering and using information to aid and coordinate the process of making planning and control decisions through- out the organisation and to guide the behaviour of its managers and employees. The goal of management control system is to improve the collective decisions within an organisation in an economically feasible way.”

Different managers perform different responsibilities in an organisation and therefore different kinds of information are needed by them to manage the activities in their respective areas. Management control system should be able to develop, gather and communicate information to management at different levels in the organisation. Also, management control system should aim to provide financial as well as non-financial information as needed by different managers.

Some examples of financial information are material costs, labour costs, net profit, investments made etc. Non-financial data are those which are not in monetary terms such as production units per worker, labour hours, machine hours, time taken to comply with the customer’s orders, absenteeism. Some information gathered under management control system may emerge from internal data maintained within the firm.

Some other information required by managers may be gathered from external sources such as information about competitors’ product. As stated earlier, different types of information are needed by persons working at different levels in the organisation. For example, top managers may require internal as well as external financial and non-financial data as their responsibilities relate to total organisation. However, a production manager would be more interested in internally generated financial and non-financial data.

Management Control Systems:

Broadly, management control system (MCS) refers to the design, installation and operation of management planning and control systems.

The term ‘management control systems’ emphasises on two distinct, but highly interrelated and sometimes indistinguishable, subdivisions of controls systems:

(i) Structure or organisation structure or relationships among the units in the organisation, more specifically the responsibility centres, the relationship among responsibility centres, performance measures and the information that flows among these responsibility centres.

(ii) Process or set of activities, or steps or decisions that are taken by an organisation or managers to establish purposes, allocate resources and achieve organisational purposes.

The process consists of interrelated phases of programming (programme selection), budgeting, execution, measurement and evaluation of actual performance.

The structure of a management control system indicates what the system “is” and process of a management control system indicates what the system “does.” The management control systems knits the organisation together so that each part, by exercising the autonomy given to it, fulfills a purpose that is consistent with and contributes to the fulfillment of the overall purpose of the organisation.

The control system should be designed to achieve unity of purpose through the use of the diverse talents of individuals in the organisation. The constant requirement of management control is the achievement of unity in diversity through coordination, in pursuit of short-term objectives and long-term goals.

Management Control System” Formal and Informal:

Management control system includes both formal control system and informal control system. A formal control system requires that an organisation should have clear-cut rules, procedures, guidelines, plans relating to different managerial aspects. Such things are needed to guide, direct, motivate the managers and other employees and coordinate their behaviour to achieve organisational goals.

In an organisation, many formal control systems may exist such as cost accounting system, management accounting system, production engineering systems, human resource system, quality maintenance system etc. Informal management control systems are always unwritten and implicit.

However, they contribute greatly in the implementation of business goals and strategies and help the organisation to attain high degree of motivation and goal congruence. Examples of informal management control systems are unwritten norms about good behaviour of managers and employees, loyalties, shared values, organisational culture and ethics, mutual commitments among managers and employees.

A major objective of management control is to encourage goal congruence, which means that as people work to achieve their own goals, they also work to achieve the goals of the company. People must have incentives to work toward the company’s goals. To accomplish that objective, managers must assign responsibilities and develop performance evaluation criteria that motivate employees to work toward the company’s goals.

A management control system is most effective when it establishes evaluation criteria that encourage goal-congruent behaviour and is implemented through a responsibility accounting system that employees trust to report their performance.

Characteristics of Management Control Systems:

Management control systems designed in an organisation should fulfill the following characteristics:

(i) Management control systems should be closely aligned to an organisation’s strategies and goals.

(ii) Management control systems should be designed to fit the organisation’s structure and the decision-making responsibility of individual managers.

(iii) Effective management control systems should motivate managers and employees to exert efforts toward attaining organisation goals through a variety of rewards tied to the achievement of those goals.

Factors Influencing Management Control Systems:

Factors influencing the design of Management Control Systems are as follows:

(i) Size and Spread of the Enterprise:

The size and spread of a large firm is bound to be different compared with that of a small firm. This would certainly determine the content and nature of the control system for each organisation.

(ii) Organisational Structure, Delegation and Decentralisation:

Statutes and conventions govern organisational structure, and the extent of decentralisation and delegation in all enterprises. For example, the management philosophy of the State Bank of India is bound to be different from that of the State Trading Corporation. Also, within an enterprise, the degree of decentralisation and delegation changes from one point of time to another to meet changed environmental challenges and the opportunities that these may present. All these influence management control systems practiced in organisations.

(iii) Nature of Operations and Divisibility:

Nature of operations and their divisibility affect management control systems. For example, in the oil industry, for instance, sub-units can not be formed on the basis of products. In many large trading companies, however, divisions can be created on the basis of products. Again, in the paper industry, the different stages in pulp making can not be subdivided for the purposes of management control, though pulp making as a whole can be regarded as a division.

(iv) Types of Responsibility Centres:

Different control systems are needed for the various responsibility centres or sub-systems within an organisation. Whether the performance of a responsibility centre should be measured in terms of expenses or profitability or return on investment depends on the type of responsibility centre. For example, a bank may apply different performance measures to measure performance of its different branches.

There are transactional differences between branches; some are deposit heavy or advance heavy, some are with or without safe deposit facilities or foreign exchange transaction. It is, therefore, not possible to have profit as the sole criteria for performance evaluation of all branches. Hence, control systems with different criteria of performance should be used for different sub-units.

(v) People and their Perceptions:

Perceptions of people in the organisation about the likely effects of the control system on their work life, job satisfaction, job security, promotion and general well-being could differ across organisations. These considerations will significantly influence the nature and content of the management control system needed in the organisation and must be duly considered while designing management control systems.