Different Types of Controllers
As a Controller, you can have different specialisations. For instance, you could be business-focused or more oriented towards accounting. Controller positions are found at group, division, company, and unit level.
The role of a Controller is to analyse financial outcomes and provide the information needed for decision-makers to plan and guide operations. In many organisations, the Controller also acts as support and a sounding board to managers when interpreting the information.
Tasks often involve analysing and communicating about financial data. The work varies depending on the role and the needs of the particular organisation, but it often includes analysis of key performance indicators, organisational, business, personnel, product, logistics issues, and projects.
Examples of Controller Roles
Head of Controlling:
Leads the controller team and is responsible for the processes related to planning, monitoring, analysis, and reporting (for instance to the management team and other decision-makers in the business). This can involve preparing for the upcoming budget process with instructions, timeline, and conditions.
The Head of Controlling is also responsible for analysis and understanding of why results, budget, and forecast look the way they do. That is, being able to explain financial discrepancies in the organisation. They may also be responsible for various system tools, such as budget systems, financial systems, and planning and analysis tools. They often report to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Often works with issues related to managing and monitoring the business and is responsible for processes around planning, monitoring, analysis, and reporting (for example to the management team and the board), but with a group focus.
The Group Controller also works with budget and forecasts like other controllers, but this is also done with a group focus. They usually work in the finance department at group level. The role often involves a more comprehensive focus than equivalent roles in a subsidiary.
A business-focused and often forward-looking Controller. They follow operations, explain them to managers and decision-makers, and thus contribute to decisions that are made. They largely base their work on data coming from the various source systems of the operation and planning and analysis tools.
They often have a more strategic responsibility, but also work with financial statements, budgets, forecasts at the department or subsidiary level. They contribute to the structure and processes around bringing together operational and business plans, goals, and key performance indicators.
The Business Controller is often found within the public sector and usually has a line manager as a main stakeholder. The term Business Controller is more common in the private sector. The Business Controller often needs to have business and/or operational competence.
Financial Controller/Accounting Controller:
The Financial Controller often sits in a central staff function, works with accounting, and is part of the finance department. The work can involve results analysis, consolidation, and reporting.
The role involves looking at the current situation, reporting results and goal achievement, and playing a central role in ensuring the quality of the base data (financial information/data). They must meet many needs, both internally and externally. The Financial Controller often needs to have system competence and often works with financial statements.
HR Controller/Personnel Controller:
Works in or near the HR department. Participates in planning and organising recruitment, development, reassignment, and staff reduction. Establishes personnel budget and often participates in the development of training plans, negotiations on wages, employment conditions, and interprets and informs about laws and agreements related to labour law.
Manages the payroll process and ensures that tax, laws, regulations, and agreements related to salary are complied with. Handles data and information for decisions related to salaries (the work is often time-critical). A Payroll Controller often communicates broadly with wage earners and has knowledge close to personnel and accounting.
Works with Quality Management and Quality Management Systems. The Quality Controller collects, compiles, and communicates about the quality of a product, service, and/or operation. The work is focused on control, leadership, and development (continuous improvement). This often involves work related to frameworks and management systems such as ISO.
Optimises the profitability of a product, for example, cost or pricing. This role is more common in companies with product departments.
Works with larger projects (a common role in larger consulting firms) and is part of the project team or a central project administration group. The Project Controller often works closely with the Project Manager (and stakeholders outside the project) to set the project's goals and Key Performance Indicators, ensure the timeline is adhered to, create and maintain the project budget, analyse reported progress, and recommend actions for improvement.
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