One of the key transformations from the Industrial Age to the Collaborative Age is related to the function of Business Control.
In Industrial Age organizations, the control function acts as the police that checks that cost is minimized and employees and resources are used at their maximum productivity. It also covers all sorts of fraud prevention. It is by necessity a function kept independent of operational and line managers, reporting to senior management. Traditionally it is a role that concentrates a large part of the data gathering and analysis capability of the organization.
In Collaborative Age organization, a large part of the control function is evolving into a function that is embedded in the business and supports management decision-making on a day-to-day basis. This is the case for example in project management: project control is embedded in the project and its main role is to support the project manager pilot the project to its objectives. That role is not so much control as organizing the gathering of data, checking for its accuracy, analyzing it and devising appropriate forecasts as to the direction taken by the business.
However, the use of the confusing terminology of ‘project control’ is sometimes misinterpreted. It is not the traditional business control role and must actually be kept separate.
While there will still remain some part of actual business control in the older sense, most of the analytical resources of companies are now devoted to support decision-making, through Business Intelligence and other tools. This evolution will be reinforced into the Collaborative Age. And it is important we don’t keep the terminology ‘control’ to describe that function.