What does a project controller do?

26.04.2019

A project controller works as a consultant and helps with the planning and design of processes and resources. They monitor performance to ensure efficiency. But what does it take to become a project controller? Learn more in this post of our career insight series.

Role Tasks Skills Background Salary

 

The Role of a Project Controller

A project controller or a project controller analyst works to monitor, coordinate, and control a project from start to finish. Project controllers deal closely with financial budgeting, limitation, and scheduling to ensure all processes run smoothly during a project.

Project controllers are tasked with documentation and reporting of a project's timeline, and further recommending necessary actions to improve overall project progress.

You'll find Project Controllers in nearly all industries worldwide. They work directly with Project Managers to help identify or define a project's aims and objectives upon which they then create a financial schedule and ensure that the project runs accordingly.

Often times project controllers specialize within a certain role such as monitoring, budgeting, or scheduling. There are project controllers who monitor the quality of the processes, while others monitor the areas of costs and financing as well as the scheduling of a company. Without project controllers, it would not be possible to adequately assess the success of a project.
 

Project Controller Overview
 

Tasks and Responsibilities

Project controllers are often tasked with personnel and management responsibility, for which they are required to prepare and coordinate the project plan, defines rules and systems that ensure progress and ultimately are responsible for monitoring and documentation. These can be subdivided into various categories, such as schedules, financing roadmaps and group membership, which can vary over the course of the project.
 

Project Controller Role
 

Project controllers generally report to project managers, operations managers and/or other upper-management personnel involved in particular projects. Project Controllers must use effective communication to ensure continuous progress and high-quality output from projects.

What are the typical tasks of a project controller?

  • Preparation and coordination of the project plan
  • Definition of rules and systems
  • Documentation and monitoring of progress
  • Controlling change and recommending preventative action
  • Monitoring adherence of project timeline with the decided schedule plan
 

Project Controller vs Project Manager: Is there a difference?

The terms project controller and project manager are often times wrongly interchanged. So what exactly is the difference?

Project control as a field is a subset of Project Management and is primarily focused on the managing of project cost and schedule, while Project Management refers to the overall support, control, scheduling, and monitoring of an entire project.

A Project Manager is in charge of his or her entire team and assigns roles and tasks whereas a Project Controller generally advises and monitors his or her team on possible cost & schedule issues/ recovery plans.

To sum it up:

 

A Project Controller generates the project’s schedule plan and timeline whereas a Project Manager consumes said information generated and makes decisions for the project.


Skills

Project controllers can be found in numerous industries and often have to deal or manage IT experts, Computer scientists, and Engineers, Architects, Construction Managers, etc. As such, they are required to have general knowledge in the area of the company they work for.

At the same time having business and financial knowledge is also essential. Controllers are generally very familiar with the common programming languages but also with project management systems. They often have knowledge in the area of SAP and are able to effectively use methods of demand planning.

With regard to soft skills, communication skills and the ability to work in a structured and responsible manner are indispensable elements in this profession. Self-confidence, assertiveness, and decisiveness are also important. It is also advisable to have a basic readiness for continuous further training in the respective specialist areas in order to be able to perform leadership roles effectively.
 

Project Controller Skills
 

What must a project manager be able to do?

  • Programming languages and project management systems
  • SAP
  • Application methods for project management
  • High sense of responsibility
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Willingness for further training
  • Leadership skills
  • Financial Jargon and Know-how

 

How to become a Project Controller?

At a minimum, most project controller positions generally require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree in a finance-related field or in business administration.

When it comes to working as an IT Project Controller, a degree in Computers works as well.

For higher up positions, employers may also stipulate that candidates acquire advanced training or a Master's Degree. Most Project Controllers find it beneficial to also attain Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

 

Project Controller Background
 

Salary

Beginners can expect a scale of $55,000 while a candidate with advanced experience and skills can expect to receive almost $110,000 in the course of his career. The average annual salary is $75,000. However, the amount of individual remuneration also depends on factors such as the level of education and experience in the job, but also the size of the company and the location of the company.

How much does a project manager earn?

Junior Salary $55,000
Average Salary $75,000
Senior Salary $110,000


The average freelancer hourly rate for a project controller is $100 per hour. Extrapolated to an 8-hour day, the daily rate is around $800 per day. (freelancermap price index - April 2019)

Project Controller Freelancer Rate
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