Strategic controller vs. operational controller

A day in the life of a Controller can be diverse. The basic function of the controller position is to be responsible for the accounting operations of the company. In high-growth middle market companies, the Controller can be pulled into more responsibilities. Therefore, in the modern world of finance and accounting, it’s important to have the right type of controller.

Most companies have operational controllers with some strategic thinking mixed in. However, we are here to argue the importance of having a strategic controller, while delegating operational controls to someone else.

The essential differences between the two controllers

An operational controller focuses on day-to-day operations.

  • An operational controller is concerned with internal operating factors. They often deal with issues that arise every day, like technology meltdowns and personnel problems.
  • Operational controllers have to worry about things on a day-to-day basis as they have to examine problems as soon as they arise and start fixing them.
  • Operational controllers look at the sales figures, production numbers, and other daily operations which can be solved quickly.
  • A strategic controller is concerned with both internal as well as external factors. These often include the environment and the market.
  • Strategic controllers have to worry about things over time. They can look at different steps and determine the best course of action.
  • Strategic controllers look at more significant organization issues, and it thus takes them longer to do research and make reports.
  • Many controllers like to take care of commissions calculations which come up in the sales process. However, we’ve found that it’s much better to have someone else prepare the schedule, and the strategic controller to review it.
  • A strategic controller gets to analyze business lines and margins, not historical information. That makes them a forward thinker.
  • A controller who has help from Consero gets to direct and run many processes, but they don’t have to do them. That part is Consero’s job.
  • Custodian
  • Analyst
  • Business partner
  • Number cruncher

A strategic controller, on the other hand, looks at the strategy of each process. They look at its entirety and analyze how effective the strategy is and how it can be improved.

In essence, both variations of the role have their advantages. Operational controllers are often faster, but only strategic controllers can deal with bigger issues and make more significant advances in their position for the company.

The solution?

The solution is relatively simple. You can have both. You can keep an in-house controller who will turn to the strategic side of their job, while the operational side will be delegated to an outsourced party.

With Consero, you can have a strategic controller who won’t have to create historical information; they will only use and analyze it. Your new strategic controller will be able to develop ideas and do the analysis that will help things move forward efficiently and much more quickly.

Essentially, your controller won’t have to do many of the day-to-day operations; they will only have to manage.

Here are some examples of how this works:

In most companies, a controller is four different things:

The last role is a very time-consuming one, yet it doesn’t have to be done by the controller. That part becomes Consero’s job.

All in all, delegating part of what your controller does enables them to focus on the vital parts of their job. That lets the company move forward with its growth.


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