Types of Control


Depending on the ‘time’ at which control is applied, controls are of three types – historical (feedback), concurrent, and predictive (feed-forward). 

Historical control

Traditionally, control was viewed as historical. It is because most of the control methods measure results after the performance. Control provides information as to how the goals of organization are met or not met Income statements and position statements are examples of this type of control. Here control is seen as a postmortem of events the purpose of which is to improve in the future.

Another name for historical controls is the feedback controls. Feedback control (or post-action control) is largely historical. In other words, the measured activity has already occurred, and it is impossible to go back and correct performance to bring it up to the standard. Instead, correction must occur after the fact. Examples of feedback controls are disciplinary action, performance appraisal interviews, financial and budgetary results and final inspections. 

Concurrent Control

It is also called ‘real time’ control. Concurrent control techniques immediately consider any problem and analyze it to take necessary and corrective steps before any major damage is done. Control chart is an example of this control.

Concurrent controls are also known by another name ‘steering controls’ and occur while an activity is taking place. The navigator of an aircraft who adjusts the aircraft’s movements is an example of concurrent control. When you ride a bicycle, you must adjust your steering constantly, depending on the turns in the road, obstacles, and changes in the terrain to keep your vehicle upright and move toward your destination.

Predictive control

Here the control system ant1c1pates problems the management encounters in future. Cash budget is an example of this type where the finance manager is in a position to estimate the next year’s flow of cash. If there is a shortage of funds in a particular month, he can arrange for bank loan or some other alternative. Predictive control is also frequently termed as ‘feed forward control’. Predictive control attempts to anticipate problems or deviations from the standard in advance of their occurrence. It is, thus, a more aggressive, active approach to control, allowing corrective action to be taken in advance of the problem. One notable characteristic of feed forward control is that it anticipates problems and permits action to be taken before a problem occurs. Feed forward and concurrent controls are sufficiently timely to allow management to take corrective changes and still achieve objectives. But there are several other factors to be considered such as:

(i) Despite their appeal, they are costly.

(ii) Many activities do not lend themselves to frequent and continuous monitoring.

(iii) At some point, excessive control becomes counter-productive.