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What is a junior project controller?
Junior project controllers support project controllers by preparing – primarily from a commercial point of view – tenders, processing inquiries, checking and editing contracts and creating and checking offers.
You report regularly or ad hoc on the progress of the project and compliance with approved budgets, check invoices from and initiate payments to external project participants and create and explain deviations between the actual and the target. Your area of responsibility naturally varies depending on the type and scope of the project you are supervising.
Junior project controllers can work in a team within the company, with project management and one, sometimes several, project controllers; but they can also be part of an external consulting team. This is often the case when projects are not ongoing or regular in companies and it is therefore not worthwhile for them to ‘maintain’ project controlling teams.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Economics or law studies with a focus on finance, controlling, accounting, ideally initial professional experience in the commercial sector.
- Starting salary: €52,800
- Top salary: €64,000
- Opportunities for advancement: project controller, specialization, team leader
What is a project anyway?
‘Projects’ can be construction projects of a housing association or an industrial group, IT projects (e.g. conversion to SAP) or structural projects such as mergers or incorporations. In production, machine changes are just as much a project as product development. There are municipal projects (e.g. urban planning), personnel projects (retraining, motivation) – there are projects everywhere.
Even smaller projects consist of many sub-steps that have to be planned, organized and calculated. However, this often happens internally and, for cost reasons, is often ‘managed’ with existing staff. With large and large projects – you don’t even have to think of Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie or Stuttgart 21 – it is almost unavoidable to define project sections and sub-goals and to call in specialists whose tools are constantly being further developed in terms of processing and cost control and whose experience is systematically evaluated and refined.
Top priority: keep costs under control
Once a project has been approved, the costs should of course remain within reasonable limits – not an easy task when several departments or companies are involved, when there are mutual dependencies and ‘unforeseen’ events occur for which no reserve has been planned.
As part of the project team, junior project controllers take on the work that is assigned to them and that is important for controlling costs. You know the participants, the contracts, the agreements and the timing; their involvement in the team enables them to see progress, but also to recognize deviations and unforeseen cost increases and to inform those involved, primarily ‘their’ project controller, of course, in good time.
There can also be a problem with the timing: the longer projects last or the more frequent breaks occur, the more careless the self-control of those involved becomes and the more likely it is that individual budgets will deviate. This is also one of the tasks of junior project controllers: ‘staying on the ball’ and ensuring that the calculations are adhered to in such cases or, if this is actually not possible, requesting reasons for deviations in good time.
Where is a junior project controller better off – internally in the company or in an external consulting firm?
Large companies that often carry out projects themselves have their own teams of project managers, project controllers and junior project controllers. The projects, e.g. B. in construction companies, are often similar, and junior project controllers have the opportunity to develop into true specialists in a field.
In the case of consulting firms, a distinction must be made between smaller ones, which work with standard process know-how, and larger ones, which often also specialize in certain types of projects. Junior project controllers often work on several projects at the same time. These can be large, complex projects as well as medium-sized and smaller ones, because consulting firms are often called in by medium-sized companies without their own project controlling.
In both cases, a secure handling of software programs that support the project teams is a prerequisite for successful work.
What does a junior project controller do?
- Determination of order values
- Cost control and reporting during and after the implementation of individual project stages/sections
- Conducting plausibility checks
- Participation in the formulation of project goals and costs
- Preparation of team meetings / summary of the results for the team and for the management
- Taking on cost-related tasks in and for the project team (administration and information)
How do you become a junior project controller?
Junior project controllers usually aim for a career in project controlling or project management, so they should meet the necessary requirements when they start their professional life:
- Economics or law studies with a focus on finance, controlling, accounting
- Ideally, first commercial professional experience in an industrial or consulting company, preferably in the area of offer and order processing and contracting
- Very good knowledge of MS Office (especially Word and Excel)
- Knowledge of SAP (SD/PS/R3) an advantage
- Business fluent English
What does a junior project controller earn?
up to €64,000
Depending on the project volume and the respective area of responsibility, a junior project controller earns around €40,000 and a senior project controller around €60,000 per year on average, which can increase to €85,000. In addition, the salary level is positively influenced by international integration and the complexity of the area of responsibility – the more comprehensive the knowledge of the desired project and area of responsibility, the better the candidate’s negotiating position.
What do you expect from the junior project controller?
- affinity for numbers
- Logical thinking ability
- Team and communication skills
- willingness to perform and motivation
- presentation security
Opportunities for advancement as a junior project controller
Junior project controllers have a wide range of development opportunities, because their work in the company gives them the opportunity to get to know almost all areas and they can prove themselves in dialogue with employees from other areas.
The next step in the career ladder is, of course, the project controller and possibly immediately or later a specialization, e.g. B. as an IT controller, and in the medium term the takeover or management of a controller group.
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