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.
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