What Does a Controller Do?

A Controller's duties often involve gathering, compiling and communicating a company's financial information. A Controller ensures that business and operational goals are followed up, works with data, outcomes and information about financial results, and makes forecasts. The Controller ensures that the management and decision-makers receive the necessary financial information to drive the business forward.

A controller working

The Controller at Work

The Controller's role can vary greatly depending on the type and size of the operation, and whether it operates in the private or public sector. Broadly speaking, the Controller's role involves analysing financial outcomes and helping to ensure decision-makers get the information they need to plan and guide operations.

In many organisations, the Controller also acts as a support and sounding board for managers when interpreting financial information. The tasks vary depending on the specific needs of the organisation but often include analysis of key figures, organisational, business, HR, product, logistical issues and projects.

What Does a Controller Do?

The Controller plans and conducts investigations, analyses and follows up results, analyses profitability and the organisation's financial flows. The overriding aim of the work is to ensure that economic, business and personnel resources are utilised in the best possible way. In Sweden, the Controller is seen as a resource for managers and decision-makers and can also participate in certain management team meetings.

All interpretations made by the Controller are made in the context of the business. The Controller thus serves as an interpreter of economic concepts so that others in the company can work to manage the business - through economics and goals linked to economic conditions.

The role of the Controller and finance department has changed over time. Previously, having reported numbers retrospectively, today's Controller role and finance function are more forward-leaning, collaborate with data and analysis units, and often use more advanced system support, rather than Excel.

The aim is to be more future-oriented and to facilitate the business to manage changes (both unforeseen and planned). The Controller now uses specific methods and digital tools to make proposals for change and thus participates in strategic work.

As interpreters of both finance and operations, Controllers are important resources in change work, often together with, and under the direction of, the Finance Manager. The Controller contributes to governance work, even if governance takes the form of financial governance or operational governance.

Controller's Areas of Work and Communication Routes

Profitability Reporting:

  • Provides support to the management team and immediate manager in operational and financial management (informing about costs and profitability).
  • Internal ambitions and operational work.

Strategic Analysis:

  • Support to the board and management team (informing about customers and competitors in a longer-term perspective).
  • Strategic with an internal ambition.

Requirement Analysis:

  • Support for the finance department (informing about new rules and new technology).
  • Strategic with external requirements.

Ongoing Accounting and Reporting:

  • Support for owners and other stakeholders (informing about correct results and correct value).
  • External requirements and operational work.

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