What is Control?

In the context of management and organizational processes, control refers to the methods and procedures that ensure the organization's activities are consistent with its plans, standards, and objectives. It is a fundamental management function that involves setting standards, measuring actual performance, and taking corrective action to ensure that organizational goals are achieved. Control helps managers monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of their strategies, operations, and processes, allowing them to address problems before they become significant issues.

Purpose and Role of Control

The primary purposes and roles of control in an organization include:

  • Ensuring Goal Achievement: Control mechanisms help ensure that the organization's activities are aligned with its goals and objectives, facilitating their achievement.
  • Monitoring Performance: By regularly measuring and monitoring performance against standards, managers can identify deviations and implement necessary adjustments.
  • Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness: Control processes enable the identification of areas where efficiency and effectiveness can be enhanced, leading to better resource utilization and performance outcomes.
  • Managing Risk and Uncertainty: Control systems help in identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks, contributing to more stable and predictable organizational operations.
  • Facilitating Decision Making: Providing managers with timely and accurate information about performance and outcomes aids in making informed decisions.

Types of Control

  • Feedforward Control (Preventive Control): This involves identifying and preventing potential problems before they occur. It focuses on inputs and takes place before the actual work process begins.
  • Concurrent Control (Real-Time Control): This type of control occurs while an activity is in progress. It involves direct supervision or the use of automated systems to monitor ongoing operations and correct any deviations in real-time.
  • Feedback Control: This occurs after an activity has been completed. It involves measuring and analyzing outcomes to correct any deviations from the desired standards in future operations.

Control Process Steps

  • Establish Standards: Setting clear, measurable, and achievable standards of performance based on organizational objectives.
  • Measure Performance: Collecting data and measuring actual performance against the established standards.
  • Compare Performance Against Standards: Analyzing the measured performance to identify any deviations or variances from the standards.
  • Take Corrective Action: Implementing actions to correct any identified deviations. This could involve adjusting the performance, changing the standards, or taking other corrective measures to align performance with goals.

Challenges in Implementing Control

  • Resistance to Control: Employees may resist control measures perceived as micromanagement or an infringement on their autonomy.
  • Over-Control: Excessive control can stifle creativity and innovation, leading to decreased employee motivation and satisfaction.
  • Adaptability: Control systems must be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the external environment, organizational goals, or operational strategies.
  • Accuracy of Information: The effectiveness of control depends on the accuracy and timeliness of the information used to measure performance.


Control is an essential management function that plays a critical role in ensuring organizational activities are directed towards achieving set goals and objectives. By establishing standards, measuring performance, and taking corrective action, managers can enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and adaptability of their organizations. Effective control systems are characterized by their ability to balance the need for oversight with the need for flexibility and creativity, ultimately contributing to the long-term success and sustainability of the organization.

See Also

Control, in a business context, refers to the processes and systems an organization puts in place to ensure that its objectives are met. These processes help monitor performance, manage risks, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and align actions with strategic goals. Control mechanisms are vital for maintaining the quality of operations, financial integrity, and legal compliance.

  • Risk Management: Explaining how organizations identify, assess, and prioritize risks to their operations and objectives, as well as the strategies they use to minimize or manage these risks.
  • Quality Management Covers the techniques and systems used to ensure that products or services meet certain quality standards, including continuous improvement processes like Six Sigma and Total Quality Management (TQM).
  • Compliance: Discuss the processes and systems to ensure that organizations comply with applicable laws, regulations, and standards, including compliance in financial reporting, environmental regulations, and ethical standards.
  • Internal Controls: Focusing on the procedures and mechanisms implemented within an organization to safeguard assets, ensure accurate and reliable financial reporting, and promote operational efficiency and compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Performance Management: Covering the methodologies, metrics, processes, and systems that help ensure that the organization's activities contribute to achieving its goals, including setting performance standards, monitoring output, and implementing performance improvement strategies.
  • Budgeting and Financial Control: Discussing the process of planning, implementing, monitoring, and controlling financial resources to achieve organizational objectives, including the use of budgets to guide financial planning and control.
  • Inventory Control: Explaining the processes involved in managing an organization's inventory effectively, ensuring the right quantity of supplies at the right time while minimizing costs.
  • Project Management: Covering the techniques and tools for planning, executing, and controlling projects to ensure they are completed on time, within budget, and according to project specifications.
  • Corporate Governance: Discussing the framework of rules, relationships, systems, and processes within and by which authority is exercised and controlled in corporations, emphasizing the importance of governance in organizational control.
  • Audit and Assurance: Focusing on examining an organization's accounts, processes, and controls by an independent body to ensure accuracy, fairness, and compliance with accounting standards and regulations.
  • Strategic Planning and Control: Explaining how strategic planning processes define an organization’s strategy or direction, and how control mechanisms are used to steer the organization towards strategic objectives.
  • Operational Control: Discuss the procedures and practices employed to regulate routine operational activities and processes, ensuring they align with strategic goals and efficiency standards.