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"What future for Management Control?"

Grant Thornton and Micropole present the results of their survey "What future for Management Control?

Levallois-Perret, 26 November 2020. Micropole, an international consulting and technology group specialising in Data & Digital Experience, and Grant Thornton, a French and international audit and consulting group, have jointly launched a national survey to highlight the profile of the management controller in 2020 and to draw up an overview of their future.

This online survey was carried out among management controllers, directors and financial managers (DG CFO, DCDG) and business analysts in French companies in order to better understand their expectations and their current and future challenges.

More than 300 professionals, covering all French business sectors, responded. Management controllers represent 50% of the respondents, financial directors and managers (DG CFO, DCDG) 33% and business analysts finance 17%.

The survey focused on four main areas:

PEOPLE & ORGANISATION - The triptych of technology, management and business is essential in delivering value.

PROCESS - Extend analysis and planning to all functional areas, simplify to regain control and adapt to its environment.

TECHNOLOGY - High-tech solutions that are still considered too technical.

VISION - Adapt or disappear.

We wanted to shed light on the concrete and factual reality of the management controller's job as well as on the real ambitions and perspectives," explains Xavier Gardiès, Partner Head of Finance Transformation & Performance Management at Micropole. The results of this survey confirm that the profession will undergo significant change, but will not suffer any shocks and should not disappear in its current form. However, it will be strongly impacted by the acceleration of technological change and will have to take this change into account in its organisational and human components.

An evolution towards the role of business partner accelerated by the use of data

The first result is that there is not one single management control, but several management controls. The survey established the typical portrait of the management controller in 2020: 63% of respondents position themselves as controllers who exploit data and 73% confirm this trajectory towards the role of "business partner".

Controlling is at the heart of the managerial and digital transformation of organisations. This is the main finding of our survey of 300 professionals," says Olivier Rihouet, Digital Performance Management & SAP Partner at Grant Thornton. Controllers, who are still too focused on simply producing data, must seize the technology to strengthen their strategic vision of the company and thus have a greater influence on decision-making.

Towards an extension of performance management to all functions of the organisation

The second lesson from this survey is that the extension of analysis and planning tools to operational staff and to all company functions is becoming more widespread, and 37% of respondents are thinking of extending planning to the payroll.

One of the major trends that emerges is the desire to move towards new planning practices, accelerated by the current period: thus, 69% of respondents believe that recent events will lead to changes in the way planning (strategic and/or budgetary) is carried out, in particular the implementation of a rolling forecast logic (80%) and steering that is more focused on building scenarios (83%).

"The management controller not only analyses the past, but also develops scenarios for the future of the company based on different hypotheses and shares forecasts to inform management," emphasises Frédéric Vole, Director of Management Control for Technip France at Technip FMC.

An EPM market that does not bring out any "game changer

Thirdly, the survey revealed that a significant proportion of companies are not equipped and still use Microsoft Excel to meet their needs. In fact, 42% of respondents say they use this tool for performance management and 65% believe that their tool does not meet their needs.

Performance management tools should not be handled solely by IT departments," continues Frédéric Vole. We don't have time to be confronted with blockages due to various technical or organisational problems. Our tools are far too complex. There are too many interfaces and application bricks to feed them.

Although they mention the significant progress made by solutions in terms of ergonomics, ease of use and flexibility, 67% of respondents believe that their tools are not user-oriented and 83% think that it is necessary to equip management control with a data-visualisation tool in addition to an EPM solution.

Impacted by the evolution of technology, management control will be transformed

A final trend concerns the integration of artificial intelligence into these solutions to support controllers in their tasks and their evolution. At this stage, 69% of respondents are thinking of integrating predictive models into their tools to facilitate budgeting, forecasting and simulation exercises.

With this technological revolution, we will see the emergence, over the next few years, of a new function capable of analysing and interpreting data," concludes Frédéric Vol. "We may then speak of a decision department that will be directly attached to the general management.

Thus, professionals in the function do not see management control disappearing in ten years' time: 75% of respondents unequivocally agree with this opinion and 85% think that the profession will evolve towards a strategy and decision making department.

The full results of this survey are available on :

https://bit.ly/3m9aiNc

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