control management
March 18, 2019

What Is Control Management and Why Is It Essential?

Tightly controlled management processes don’t happen by accident, and they’re never complete. As NASA heartbreakingly realized in 1986 with the explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger, all processes, major and minor, come together to create the whole. History shows a seemingly straightforward decision-making process in o-ring manufacture led to catastrophe. As your business grows and day-to-day organization becomes more complex, processes (or a lack thereof) can result in corporate catastrophe. Managing control is critical to making sure processes and systems are running effectively within your organization.

Once your company commits to control management, perfected pieces of the organizational puzzle come together to form one highly effective, optimized whole.

Here you can see what steps are needed to master control management.

Control Management Defined

So what is control management? To comprehend the concept in a business context, it is important to distinguish “control” from “management.” You can do this by remembering the following:

Manage something = to do something
Controlling something = monitor something

Also referred to as “change management,” control management refers in a management context to setting standards, measuring actual performance, and taking corrective action. An easy way to summarize the steps of control management is like this:

  1. Actual performance is compared with planned performance
  2. The difference between the two is measured
  3. Causes contributing to the difference are identified, and
  4. Corrective action is taken to eliminate or minimize the difference

Why Is Control Management Warranted?

If all your employees always did what was best for the organization, control — and possibly even management altogether — would not be needed. But the reality is, your people are sometimes unable or unwilling to act in your organization's best interests. So, you need to implement a set of controls to help steer your people away from undesirable actions and toward the desirable. Control management is essential to your business because it helps to check errors and implement corrective action, minimizing deviation from standards, and keeps your project management on track. With such a framework in place, your company is much more likely to hit its goals.

Is Control Management Merely “The Latest Thing?”

Control management is not a new phenomenon. In the 1920s, mining engineer, executive, and author Henri Fayol developed a general theory of business administration that is often called Fayolism. He’s widely acknowledged as a founder of the modern management method, and his principles still work all these years later. The military adopted his practices and stand by them to this day. Fayol proposed that there were five primary functions of management: Planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling. And these control management, or change management, principles are available for your company’s benefit too.

Fayol’s control function is still relevant in the sense that a manager like yourself must receive feedback about a process in order to make necessary adjustments and analyze the deviations. These days, aspects of management may be carried out using online platforms, but the principles and objectives remain the same. As Fayol identified, the key elements of a control process include a characteristic to be tested, as well as sensors, comparative standards, and implementation.


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It’s Never Too Late to Enact Change

If you want to introduce control management to your company but feel daunted at the prospect, you’re not alone. Some organizational systems are huge and complex, so how can you be expected to monitor all of them? In short, it’s impossible. But don’t despair. It is sufficient and commonplace for a business to identify and monitor only the key conditions or characteristics of output.

Once you identify a condition or a manageable number of conditions you want to control, you must integrate the communications and data-collecting sensors that gather and pass information from the system to management. This information should be collected and interpreted promptly and accurately, then be benchmarked against predetermined organizational or competitive standards.

After you’ve collected your data and compared it against the initial standards, you’re ready to work on a strategy for implementing changes to your company’s processes. The idea is that as you work on smoothing out each component of your process, all components come together to form a beautifully oiled machine.

What Investment Does Control Management Require?

What do you need to be aware of when implementing control management? It does take a committed investment. First, a lack of resources can inhibit a company’s ability to manage control. You need to factor in staff training, statistical software, and measurement systems to prevent inaccuracies. Second, the time lag in information flow can misdirect management to problems at the wrong time in the sequence. Timely discovery and reporting is paramount.

Finally, there is always the chance of human error, so it is important to have reliable software in place that can make errors obvious. Execution and promotion of control management has to come from the top, because despite their best intentions, people do not always understand what is expected of them, nor how they can best perform their jobs — they may lack some requisite ability, training, or information.

Take Advantage of Proven Control Techniques

The control function of management can be a critical determinant of organizational success. All companies serious about their processes need to consider implementing control management. Fayol set the standard for managerial practices being key to predictability and efficiency in organizations, and these standards have stood the test of time. A change management plan can provide the direction for managing your change control process, and documents the associated roles and responsibilities in affecting control management. Ask yourself: Is it time for your company to build Fayolism into its management systems?

Implementing a new software solution is essentially an exercise in control management. Fortunately, there are ample resources available to help guide your organization to a successful adoption.

Of course, choosing the right solution is the first step. At many agile and progressive organizations, Workfront is a proven leader at delivering results when it comes to improving efficiency, reducing chaos, and helping organizations to run smoother and with better focus.

With the right control management solution, your organization stands a much better chance of success.


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