What tasks do controllers have?

What tasks does a controller have?

Controlling includes the entire process, from setting the target, to planning, to management in the area of finance and performance management.

This includes the responsibility for defining, deciding, managing. Therefore, controlling is assigned to a manager. They have to decide on goals and detailed planning. While the manager runs the business and is responsible for the result, the controller has the economic meaning and takes the responsibility for the results transparency. This interplay of the management and the controller accounts for the controlling in the intersection.

The management work is not tied to a specific company size, but must also be binding in small companies. Controlling does not have to be personal. However, the management must be oriented towards the goal and planning, be anticipatory as well as adaptive and decentralized. If a management that meets these requirements is not available, the controlling services make no sense.

Which requirements should a controller fulfill?

A controller not only has to have the ability to present and explain projects and results. They have to ask questions and be ready for discussions. They are also often required to deliver bad news or demand responsibility. In addition to good communication, rhetorical and also social skills, controllers need above all assertiveness and perseverance.

Basic mathematical as well as logical skills, but also entrepreneurial thinking (and acting) are basic prerequisites for successful controlling. For the latter, a business education is a good basis. In manufacturing companies, technical understanding is essential. The development of controlling knowledge is also necessary. Here, the controller learns to use instruments, to interpret results and to derive measures from them. The necessary data are usually determined by appropriate software. Intensive knowledge of the relevant programs and communication media are therefore also part of the requirements portfolio of a modern controller.

Source: ICV Controlling Wiki, „Controlling” [German]


This video by the Institute of Management Accounting and Control (headed by Professor Dr. Utz Schäffer and Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Weber) of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management illustrates which tasks controllers fulfill. They inform, plan, control, and advise. How they do this – whether they constrain, unburden or complement – depends on the skills of the individual manager they are supporting.