Control is a process that attempts to assure that the actual activities performed match the desired goals that have been set. Control assures that deviations from the goals are corrected. It provides feedback that can aid in setting future goals and standards. Control systems are mechanisms.
The control systems a manager can use may be classified into three categories: managerial discretion, timing and information.
This relates to the amount of discretion a manager has in completing the task i.e. the freedom or authority to make decisions or choices about a particular situation. Such systems may be either cybernetic or non cybernetic.
Cybernetic control systems are self-regulating i.e. they have built-in devices to automatically correct any deviations that may occur. They are self-regulating and self operating, they eliminate the need for people overseeing tasks. This system is useful for tasks and processes in which all of the steps and standards are very well known e.g the use of robots in production.
Non cybernetic control systems are those in which managers use their own discretion in making decisions about how best to complete an activity and meet performance goals. Quality circles allow the discretion of work groups in determining how best to complete a job and eliminate problems.
Steering controls anticipate results and guide an activity before the operation begins e.g. in new product development, demand is predicted, production schedules are set and expected delivery dates are defined beforehand.
Yes-No controls assess an activity while it is in progress. At checkpoints, progress is okayed, corrective action is taken or progress is halted. Yes-No controls are used in scheduling of and timing of steps or procedures such as the Critical Path Method (CPM) or Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT).
Post-action controls measure and evaluate the results of an activity after it is completed. They provide information for rewards and planning. They rely on feedback received from the system.
Control systems are designed to monitor and evaluate certain activities, therefore they are designed to accumulate and evaluate certain types of information – financial, physical and administrative.
Information about financial resources is usually in the form of figures that show the amounts allocated and spent e.g. budgets, capital expenditures and cash flows.
In production, information about scheduling, inventories, quality control and materials has to be collected, stored and retrieved.
Human resource (administrative) information is collected showing records e.g. absenteeism, pay rises, training and performance evaluations.