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Difference Between Planning and Controlling

Last updated date: 15th Apr 2024
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Planning and Controlling

Planning and controlling are two important functions of management. A system of controlling requires the existence of certain standards. These standards of controlling which act as a basis of controlling are provided by proper planning. Once a plan becomes operational, controlling becomes important to examine the progress, measure it, identify deviations, and initiate corrective actions to ensure that events are in accordance to plan. Therefore planning without control is meaningless. Similarly, there is no role of controlling without planning. If the standards are not set beforehand, the manager will not have anything to leave. Therefore, where there is no plan, there is no basis of controlling. Although both planning and controlling go hand in hand, there are certain differences between the two which we will discuss in this article. 

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What is Planning?

Planning is an important managerial function. Planning means deciding in advance what to do, when to do, and how to do it. Before performing something, it is necessary for managers to formulate an idea on how to perform the task. Therefore, planning is closely related to creativity and innovation. But the manager first has to set the objectives only then he will be able to know where he has to reach. Planning bridges a gap between where we are and where we want to reach. Managers perform planning at all levels. Planning requires making  certain decisions as it involves making a choice from different alternatives available. Hence, planning involves setting objectives and developing appropriate courses of action to attain these objectives.

Features of Planning

  1. It is the primary function of management.

  2. It is a systematic way of thinking for accomplishment of predetermined objectives.

  3. It is essential in ensuring appropriate utilisation of resources.

  4. It is also an activity which includes avoiding risks, confusions, wasted efforts, unpredictability, etc.

  5. Planning offers direction and motive to the executors of a plan, which for a company are the associated employees, managers, etc. For any task, planning also helps in distinguishing future threats.

What is Controlling?

Controlling is the important function of a manager. Controlling means to ensure that activities in the organisation are performed as per the  plan. Controlling also ensures that the resources of an organisation are effectively and efficiently used for the achievement of predetermined goals. Hence, controlling is referred to as a goal-oriented function. Managers at all levels i.e., top, middle, and bottom need to perform controlling functions to keep a control over activities in their areas. Controlling is widely required in the areas like hospitals, education institutions, military, and a club as in any business organisation.

Features of Controlling

  • Controlling is an ending function. It implies that the controlling function originates once the performances are made in accordance with the plan. 

  • Controlling is a pervasive function which implies that it is performed by all managers at all levels.

  • Controlling is a backward looking function as it is similar to postmortem of activities performed in the past to find out the deviations from the standard.

  • Controlling is related to planning. Once a plan becomes operational, controlling is important to examine the progress, measure it, discover deviations, and initiate corrective measures to ensure that events are performed according to plan. 

How Do Controlling and Planning Differs?

Both controlling and planning differ in some way. Controlling establishes performance standards that are used to measure performance towards organisational goals. The primary objective of controlling is to determine whether people and different parts of the organisation are performing the work as per their target, attaining the objectives that they have planned to achieve. On the other hand, planning chooses goals and determines necessary strategy and tactics to accomplish those goals. Planning is made on how to perform goals in order to prevent failures and promote success. Planning also provides mediums on how to measure the performance of individuals, divisions, departments, and the organisation as a whole.

Difference Between Controlling and Planning





Controlling refers to measuring performance

Planning means deciding the way to perform actual work.


Controlling is a backward-looking function

Planning is a forward-looking function


Controlling is the last function of management 

Planning is the first function of management


Controlling including measurement of employees performance and feedback.

Planning is a function that decides when, how, where and who will perform the function.


Controlling plays an important role as without feedback managers cannot judge the performance of employees.

Planning function is important because other functions of management are only performed in a better way if proper planning is done. Hence, we can say managerial function depends on planning.


The primary objective of controlling is to ensure that the target is achieved or not.

The primary motive of planning is to set goals.


Planning and controlling are two important parts of management, which are interrelated to a great extent, yet are different from each other. 

FAQs on Difference Between Planning and Controlling

1. How are both planning and controlling interrelated?

Both planning and controlling are interrelated, infact support each other in the sense that:

  • Planning is based on the facts that make the controlling process easier and effective.

  • Controlling enhances future performance by delivering information derived from past experience. 

2. How are planning and controlling forward and backward looking functions?

Planning is considered a forward looking function because plans are made for the future and relies upon the forecast about future conditions. On the other hand, controlling is a backward looking function because it is similar to postmortem of past activities to recognize the deviations from the standard. Hence, in this sense controlling is regarded as a backward looking function.