"Controlling is always oriented towards the future". Despite the fact that the postulated future orientation is often contrary to the existing controlling tools, where mostly past-oriented values are analyzed and presented in sophisticated Excel spreadsheets, this phrase is often heard in practice or science and is a key element of a modern-oriented and decision based controlling system. The St. Gallen Center for Controlling addresses the challenges of a future-oriented controlling by linking useful information from the past, the present, and the future and processing the findings in the form of options and alternatives.
With this information available, decision- makers such as supervisory councils, managing directors, department or project managers can - on the basis of this information - decide on applications, projects or investments. Thereby, they take responsibility for results, while the controller is responsible for their transparency. Making this distinction, the term “Controlling” can be described as the result of such a division of responsibility. Another way to see it is the synonymous meaning of the verb “to control”, i.e. “to govern” or “to lead”.
The St. Gallen Center for Controlling focuses on this aspect of controlling. The different mechanisms by which a control system is controlled, led and governed should also apply to the system called "company" to control, lead and govern it into the future. But before we can take this step, we must define the target state, our objective - in the control system as well as in the company -, similar to a pilot who has to know the destination of his flight. Only when he knows his destination, he can prepare accordingly in order to reach his objective and correctly interpret the data, pointers and lights in the cockpit. He controls his aircraft towards his destination, making use of all kinds of information. Therefore, controlling always serves as a future-oriented instrument.
From the perspective of the corporate world, the following question arises: On what basis does controlling determines future targets? How does it know "where to fly the plane"? The answer lies in the holistic St. Gallen Management Model: responsible for a company's medium-term orientation is its strategy. Considering normative values, a strategy is setting clear objectives, which are then operationalized and translated into concrete measures. According to this classification, while following the St. Galler management approach, the St. Gallen Centre for Controlling divides the topic into three areas and furthermore offers the full range of practical know-how.