The Transformation of Controlling: from Number Crunching to valued Management Consulting

Thursday, 10. August 2017

A guest article by Dr Bianca Drerup

Taylor-made Transformation

Since the turn of the millennium the role of controllers has changed rapidly: Mainly seen as ‘number crunchers’ and ‘control freaks’ then, they are now highly estimated as management consultants and critical counterparts. The latest trends in digitalization and shared service organizations are also affecting this view: The range of responsibilities and technologies employed has changed so much up until now that companies need to totally restructure the role of controllers.

The University of Duisburg-Essen recently carried out a study about such transformational processes, including the implementation of the Strategic Intelligence Software SOLYP3 at a consumer product manufacturer. A special transformational process for the controlling department was developed as an analytical framework and structural aide. Experts’ advice and the transformational process according to Lewin and Kotter formed the basis of the study.

The Fab Four

Scrutinizing transformations of controlling in four companies within case studies and references was the core of the study. On the one hand, the scientists analyzed how important controlling instruments, such as strategic planning, investment control or activity-based costing, were introduced and adapted. On the other hand, they had a look at the re-engineering of the organization of controlling processes, the radical revision of reporting and the introduction of new business intelligence systems. These transformations were examined in isolation as well as comprehensively. Numerous experts were consulted and the documentations of the respective companies were analyzed.

The function of controlling before and after the transformation was presented with the help of the four faces model, and the transformation was evaluated from many different angles: Primarily the study aimed to show which dependencies exist between the transformation of controlling and the change within the company and between different projects and viewpoint levels within the transformation of controlling. A comparison of the role of controlling before and after the transformation helped to find out in how far transformation influenced controlling and if this influence was intended.

SOLYP3 as a new Superpower

SOLYP was involved in the four case studies: Several interviews and talks with experts and analyses of documents illustrate the set-up of modern controlling at a consumer product manufacturer. The revision of investment control and the re-establishment of strategic planning were parts of the study. The result: Implementing SOLYP3 turned out to be essential to the transformation of controlling and effectively supported the change of the role of controllers in the examined company.

The study also identifies influencing factors affecting the range of transformation, in short: how profound changes are and whether they are bound to last. Therefore, design features of the transformation of controlling and the function of controlling were analyzed and scrutinized according to their impact. SOLYP developed and implemented an action-oriented strategical process, which comprises international organizations and the middle management. Developed actions and partial process automation with the help of IT solutions are central results of the study.

Individual Factors in Context

Controlling TransformationAll in all, this research project strikingly shows how different the factors within the context of each controlling transformation and their impact on the transformation itself are. Besides making scientific and practical use of their results, the four case studies can be used for benchmarking as well – for example in order to increase sensitivity to critical aspects within the transformation of controlling and possibilities how to deal with them. All the results of the study can be found here.


About the Author

Dr. Bianca DrerupDr Bianca Drerup works as a scientist at the Chair for General Business Management and Controlling at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Earlier, she was a financial expert in the field of finance shared services at Deloitte Consulting and a corporate controller and financial analyst for minority holdings.

Her main field of research includes change management in controlling organizations, the set-up of change processes in controlling and organizational models in controlling and the area of finance. The practical application of current methods and adapting them to the individual requirements of companies is a central aspect. Please find further information about Bianca Drerup here.