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What Does a Plant Controller Do?

By C. Webb
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Plant controllers can be found in many different industries. Their primary job duty is to supervise all aspects of financial administration in the plant. Plant controllers generally work during normal daytime business hours, regardless of when the plant is producing. Many controllers possess MBAs and have several years at positions with increasing levels of responsibility before becoming plant controllers.

A monthly accounting report is one of the duties of the plant controller. This includes tracking inventory costs, labor costs, overhead, and equipment depreciation. In addition, reconciliation of the balance sheets using a general ledger format is expected on a monthly basis.

The plant controller is also involved in forecasting future budget needs. This requires the ability to look at past costs and future planned projects and determine an approximate budget to cover needs. Accurate and regular analysis of all financial reports is also required of the controller. Many controllers supervise a financial team that can include accountants, accounting clerks, and administrative assistants. Communication skills are necessary for this task.

A plant controller is charged with maintaining knowledge about the latest legislation as it pertains to a particular industry. Company compliance with the law is the controller's responsibility. The position is usually supervised by the company director of operations.

In addition to financial analysis, the controller is expected to develop and adjust all company accounting procedures to ensure accurate results. These procedures must dovetail with company policy as well as regional legislation requirements. The checks-and-balances procedures of the company are also something the plant controller develops and oversees.

Some companies require the controller to meet with department managers to train them in the importance of accurate accounting. The managers then pass the training and procedures onto their subordinates. Any sudden or unexpected losses, such as inventory damaged in a flood, are analyzed by the controller, who then offers recommendations on how to make up for the loss. In the event of a company or government financial audit, the plant controller will be available to answer questions, explain documentation, and discuss errors.

Typically, plant controllers are required to have at least five years of experience working as a company financial manager. Two of those years should be in a plant environment. Increasing levels of accounting responsibility should be demonstrated on the resume. Communication skills are important because of the need to communicate with various department managers.

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