The Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC) has carried out the second study of future topics in Controlling, the first was completed in 2011. Results show that ‘Business Partnering’ is now high on the list, just behind ‘Information Systems’ and ‘Raising Efficiency’ which are, as in 2011, still considered to be the most important topics on the controller’s agenda
A considerable amount of preliminary qualitative work and interviews with experts were carried out to identify 15 topics which experts from research and practice considered to be topics of future interest to controllers. These topics were then examined in a comprehensive study carried out by the IMC, led by Professor Utz Schäffer and Professor Jürgen Weber. A total of 472 respondents, consisting of members of the WHU-Controller Panel and other senior Controlling managers, took part in the study.
The results of the study show that ‘Information Systems’, ‘Raising Efficiency’ and ‘The Role of the Controller as Business Partner’ are the topics that will dominate the controller’s agenda in future. These topics along with ‘Involvement in Strategic Planning’ make up the Top 4 on the list. Professor Schäffer elucidated, “This result reveals a fundamental process of transformation in Controlling – away from the unburdening activities carried out by controllers towards business partnering on an equal footing. At the same time, it is clear that the future topics can’t be considered in isolation. They all influence each other and present a basically comprehensive picture of Controlling in future.”
While ‘Information Systems’ and ‘Raising Efficiency’ were already considered to be the two most important future topics in 2011, the middle of the list now shows some changes. According to Professor Schäffer, “the subject of ‘Controlling Recruitment’ is expected to grow in importance in the next five years.” In contrast, the topics ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Harmonizing Internal and External Accounting’ have dropped out of the Top 10. Two new topics, namely ‘Integration of Controlling in Internal Communications’ and ‘Cash Orientation’, have come to the attention of controllers and consequently joined the list of the most important future topics.
Almost all of the top future topics evolved from ideas that originated in the Controlling community. It is valid to say that the more often controllers’ ideas lead to changes in companies, then the sooner the respondents expect to see growth in the area of Controlling in the next five years.