Controlling in Management: Definition, Features, Process, Types, and Importance

What is Controlling?

Controlling is the management process of comparing actual performance with the standard set by the company to ensure that activities are done according to plans and if not taking corrective actions. It is goal-oriented and pervasive to every manager.

Control i.e. controlling is one of the important functions of management. It is a corrective action of management in pursuit of achieving organizational goals.

It includes setting of standard outputs, evaluating the actual outputs, finding deviations in actual and standard outputs, and taking corrective actions to minimize and eliminate the deviation between actual and standard outputs.

Control is only the management function that ensures the activities are on the right track to achieve organizational goals. Every manager should consistently monitor and evaluate the performance of employees and take corrective measures if required in order to maintain smooth performance or prevent the company from losing.

Objectives of Controlling

The following are the main objectives of the control function of management.

  • To ensure the achievement of the standard goals of the company.
  • To minimize or eliminate the deviation between standard and actual output.
  • To facilitate the optimum utilization of resources.
  • It also aims to minimize errors in the organization.
  • To improve the overall performance and productivity of the organization.

Characteristics of Controlling

The control system is the set of planned activities to ensure the organizational activities are in the way to achieve predetermined objectives. The following are the main features of controlling.

Pervasive Function

It is a pervasive function of management. It is essential in all management levels and organizations irrespective of size, nature, and location. It is universal in nature.


Control is a future-oriented function as the purpose of controlling is to correct the future action of the organization. Based on the past and present performance level feedback required corrective actions are identified for future action.

Continuous Action

It is a continuous action as it is essential till the existence of the organization. It involves the continuous analysis and study of the implementation of standards, policies, and procedures of the organization.

Related: Planning Function of Management

Corrective Action

The controlling system focuses on correcting the deviation between what is happening and what is expected to happen. It measures the actual functions and compares them with standard functions. And, if any deviation is found between them necessary corrective actions are identified and taken.


It is not concentrated only on past and present performance only it also focuses on future performance. It’s intended to measure actual performance levels and give early warning of any deviations.

Types of Controlling

There are three types of control in the organization. They are:


Pre-control, as its name suggests, means initiating the control system before starting activities in advance. In simple words, pre-control means thinking before doing.

Pre-control aims to ensure there will be no deviation during the course of action. This helps to attain organizational goals even by using scarce resources. Pre-control can also be called free-forward control and proactive control.

Concurrent Control

The control which goes along with the activities is called concurrent control. It is also known as real-time control or side-by-side control.

Under this control, activities being conducted are observed, analyzed, and problems if any are identified and corrective actions are initiated immediately. It is concerned with the adjustment of performance before any major problems.


This is the control in which evaluation and initiation take place after the completion of the project. The main purpose of this control is to collect feedback on current performance for future reference. On the basis of this, managers adjust the controlling system for future projects.

Process of Controlling

The control process includes a series of activities to ensure the organizational activities are directed towards the achievement of predetermined activities. The following are the main steps of the process of controlling.

Related: Process of Decision Making

Establishing Standards

Every organization establishes certain output standards that represent the desired objectives of the project, department, or entire organization. The organization’s targeted outcome is standards.

Setting the intended standard, or output is the first step in controlling. Activities should be carried out according to specific criteria in order to achieve predetermined objectives. The output standards or minimum expected level of output are known as standards.

Measuring Performance

Actual output or performance in an organization is regularly measured. Supervisors, managers, or other authorized authorities of the company evaluate the actual performance of their own employees, work groups, departments, and the entire company.

Measurement of the performance provides the figure for evaluation of actual performance by comparing it with standard performance.

Comparing with Standards

In the control process, the actual performance is compared with the standard ones. After comparing the actual performance with the standard, the deviation is identified if any. It also traces the possible reasons for deviations.

Taking Corrective Actions

In the control process, corrective actions are taken when the actual performance does not match the standard performance to make the actual performance match with the standard ones. Corrective actions are more appropriate for the work in progress rather than the work completed.

Importance of Controlling

It is the controlling function of management that ensures the actions of the organization are going in the right direction or not. Some notable points that clarify why control is important in the workplace are mentioned below:

Reduces the Deviation

Controlling is the means to compare the actual performance of the organization with its standard performance. During the comparison process, if no deviation is found, no corrective actions are required. But, if any deviation is found it is meant to initiate corrective actions to reduce, minimize, or eliminate the deviations.

Cope with Changes

Organizations have to cope with changes that are influenced by different internal and external factors. As such changes take place, they also influence the quality of the performance of the organization. The control function of the management helps managers to respond to such environmental changes tactfully.

Optimum Use of Resources

An organization’s resources are tools to achieve the desired goals. Their optimum utilization is necessary for timely goal achievement. The control function helps managers to compare actual performance with standard ones.

Managers can then better grasp their strengths and areas for improvement as a result. With this knowledge, managers can make the most use of all resources and avoid wasting them.

Helps To Maintain Discipline

A good control mechanism helps a business maintain discipline because it functions similarly to a system of motivators. Employees will be disciplined in doing what has to be done and will not do those that are ignored when it is obvious what is expected of them and what is not, resulting in a steady and orderly workforce.

Read Next: Directing Function of Management

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