Competitive Exams: The Control Function

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Control is an essential function of management in every organization. The management process is incomplete and sometimes useless without the control function. The management process includes planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling. Planning sets forth the objectives a manager intends to achieve. Organizing provides the structure of an organization by determining how and where the employees will be placed in the organization and the responsibilities that they will need to fulfill to attain predefined objectives. Staffing involves the managerial function of placing the right person in the right job in the organization. Leading involves the managerial function of influencing, motivating and directing the human resources of the organization to achieve organizational goals. The control function is concerned with ensuring that the planning, organizing, staffing and leading functions result in the attainment of organizational objectives. In other words, control is a tool that helps organizations measure and compare their actual progress with their established plan.

The term ‘control’ has different meanings in different contexts. In the management context, ‘control’ refers to the evaluation of performance and the implementation of corrective actions to accomplish organizational objectives. Some people confuse ‘control’ with ‘supervision.’ Supervision is a part of control; it helps identify deviations from the established standards of performance.

Importance of Controlling

The control function is gaining importance in today՚s organizations due to a number of factors. These factors include the need for accountability in organizations, the need to detect environmental changes that significantly affect organizations, the growing complexity of present day organizations and the need to identify operational errors in organizations to avoid incurring excessive costs.

In addition to addressing the above mentioned factors, controlling plays an important role in helping managers detect irregularities, identify opportunities, handle complex situations, decentralize authority, minimize costs, and cope with uncertainty.

Basic Control Process

Even though control systems need to be tailored to suit specific situations, they all involve the same basic process. When exercising the control function, a manager measures the performance of an individual, a plan, or a program against certain predetermined standards and takes corrective action if there are any deviations. The process involves the following steps:

  • Determining areas to control
  • Establishing standards
  • Measuring performance
  • Comparing performance against standards
  • Recognizing good or positive performance
  • Taking corrective action when necessary
  • Adjusting standards and measures when necessary

Types of Control

Controls Based on Timing

Major Control Types based on Timing

Stages of ProductionType of ControlDescription
Input: Capital, Labor, Raw materials, Market information, EquipmentFeed forward controlInputs are monitored to ensure that they meet the standards necessary for the transformation process.
Transformation process: Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Leading, ControllingConcurrent controlRegulates ongoing activities that are a part of the transformation process to ensure that they conform to organizational standards.
Output: Goods, Services, Profits, Waste materialsFeedback controlExercised after a product or service has been produced to ensure that the final output meets quality standards and goals.

Requirements for Effective Controls

  • Controls should reflect plans, positions and structures
  • They should be understandable
  • They should be cost-effective
  • Controls should identify only important/major exceptions
  • Control systems should be flexible
  • Control systems should provide accurate information