Nature and Process of control

10/03/2020 1 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

Broadly, management control refers to the design, installation and operation of management planning and control.

The term ‘management control’ 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 organizational 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.

Nature of Management Control

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

(ii) Management control systems should be designed to fit the organization’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.

Purpose of Management Control

A management control  is a business tool that can give an indication of how well an organization is performing in accordance with its objectives.

A management control is:

  • A way managers can document their organization’s objectives
  • A way managers can document their organizational strategies or policies
  • A way to assess the performance of internal corporate processes
  • A way to show performance in relation to declared objectives and policies


An effective organization is one where managers understand how to manage and control. The objective of control as a concept and process is to help motivate and direct employees in their roles. Understanding managerial control process and systems is essential for the long- term effectiveness of an organization.

Without enough control systems in place, confusion and chaos can overwhelm an organization. However, if control systems are “choking” an organization, the organization will suffer from erosion of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Concept of Controlling

The term controlling has different connotations depending upon the context of the use of the term. In manufacturing it refers to a Device or mechanism installed or instituted to guide or regulates the activities or operation of an apparatus, machine, person, or system; in law it refers to controlling interest and in management as an authority to order and manage the workings and management of an entity.

Control is a management process to aim at achieving defined goals within an established timetable, and comprises of three components:

(i) Setting standards

(ii) Measuring actual performance

(iii) Taking corrective action.

Process of Controlling

Following are the steps involved into the process of control:

  1. Establish the Standards

Within an organization’s overall strategic plan, managers define goals for organizational departments in specific, precise, operational terms that include standards of performance to compare with organizational activities. However, for some of the activities the standards cannot be specific and precise.

Standards, against which actual performance will be compared, may be derived from past experience, statistical methods and benchmarking (based upon best industry practices). As far as possible, the standards are developed bilaterally rather than top management deciding unilaterally, keeping in view the organization’s goals.

Standards may be tangible (clear, concrete, specific, and generally measurable) – numerical standards, monetary, physical, and time standards; and intangible (relating to human characteristics) – desirable attitudes, high morale, ethics, and cooperation.

  1. Measure Actual Performance

Most organizations prepare formal reports of performance measurements both quantitative and qualitative (where quantification is not possible) that the managers review regularly. These measurements should be related to the standards set in the first step of the control process.

For example, if sales growth is a target, the organization should have a means of gathering and reporting sales data. Data can be collected through personal observation (through management by walking around the place where things are happening), statistical reports (made possible by computers), oral reporting (through conferencing, one-to-one meeting, or telephone calls), written reporting (comprehensive and concise, accounting information normally a combination of all. To be of use, the information flow should be regular and timely.

  1. Compare Performance with the Standards

This step compares actual activities to performance standards. When managers read computer reports or walk through their plants, they identify whether actual performance meets, exceeds, or falls short of standards.

Typically, performance reports simplify such comparison by placing the performance standards for the reporting period alongside the actual performance for the same period and by computing the variance—that is, the difference between each actual amount and the associated standard.

The manager must know of the standard permitted variation (both positive and negative). Management by exception is most appropriate and practical to keep insignificant deviations away. Timetable for the comparison depends upon many factors including importance and complexity attached with importance and complexity.

  1. Take Corrective Action and Reinforcement of Successes

When performance deviates from standards, managers must determine what changes, if any, are necessary and how to apply them. In the productivity and quality-centered environment, workers and managers are often empowered to evaluate their own work. After the evaluator determines the cause or causes of deviation, he or she can take the fourth step corrective action.

The corrective action may be to maintain status quo (reinforcing successes), correcting the deviation, or changing standards. The most effective course may be prescribed by policies or may be best left up to employees’ judgment and initiative. The corrective action may be immediate or basic (modifying the standards themselves).