Control-Factor Unit (CFU) Definition

A Control-Factor Unit (CFU) is a measure of workload intensity, which is used to convert the number of cases per unit time into the corresponding number of CFUs that reflect an average staff member’s workload during that period. 

It is an index that combines the level of professional activity with the intensity of effort required for this activity. Control-Factor units are also known as Control Factor Index (CFI). 

When to Use a Control-Factor Unit?

Control-Factor units can be used for measuring and comparing the work intensities of different professions or groups within one profession, and also between organizations, and for doing different forms of cost comparisons. 

Control-Factor Units are often used by cost estimators, to estimate the number of Control-Factor Units required for each different task in a project or for estimating the total number of CFUs needed for an entire project before beginning work.

How Does the Control-Factor Work?

The Control-Factor is simply a multiplier based on the number of minutes per hour spent completing various tasks that require different degrees of effort or professional judgment. The Control Factor Index (CFI) is calculated as: 

Control-Factor Unit

The Control Factor can be calculated for different types of work. Control factors are designed to reflect the average intensity of effort required by staff engaged in various activities. Control factors measure time spent working, not output. 

Common Control-Factors Used Are: 

  • Control Factor 0.75 Office activities, data entry, filing 
  • Control Factor 1.00 Maintenance tasks that require little or no judgment or decision making 
  • Control Factor 1.25 Clerical work requiring moderate effort and judgment 
  • Control Factor 1.5 – Medical/nursing care of stable patients 
  • Control Factor 2.00 Management-level work 
  • Control Factor 3.5 Professional activities with higher levels of training and judgment (for example, counseling) 

Types of Control-Factor Units (CFU)

There are three types of CFUs:

      1. Regular Control Factor (RCF) Units

The RCF is used when outputs cannot be measured and time is the only practical way of quantifying effort.

Control-Factor units (CFUs) are often used by cost estimators, to estimate the number of CFUs required for each different task in a project or for estimating the total number of CFUs needed for an entire project before beginning work.

      2. Output Control Units

The OCU is used when outputs and/or throughput can be measured and the Control-Factor is used to calculate the cost of effort.

      3. Machine Control Units

The MCU is used for work that can be completely standardized and requires little or no professional judgment, such as processing each transaction in an automated system by inserting a card into a machine.

Machine Control Units (MCU) are also called RVUs (Resource Value Units) or G-Factor.

Benefits of Using Control-Factor Unit(s)

Control-factor units (CFUs) should be used to rate the relative average amount of time spent on various activities by one staff member in a given period, for example, an hour. 

  1. CFUs help benchmark activities against one another because the Control-Factor is standardized so that comparisons can be made across different levels of effort involving different types of staff or groups within a profession.
  2. It is used to measure work intensity and performance, which enables managers to compare the relative effort spent by different employees and to plan work schedules. 
  3. Control-factor units can also be used to standardize staff tasks in a way that makes them comparable across different people, periods, or organizations.
  4. Control-factor units can be used to identify and correct poor performance because Control Factor units’ values are standardized across various types of work.

Drawbacks of Control-Factor Units

There are two main drawbacks to using Control-Factor Units (CFUs).

  1. Do not adequately measure the differences in work done by different individuals because it is standardized. 
  2. Control Factor Units can become obsolete due to changes in wage levels, technology, and/or the organization’s production process.
  3. Before any Control-Factor Units or even Control Factor Index is used it must be reviewed by Human Resource and Professional specialties to ensure validity.
  4. The Control-Factor Units may become obsolete due to changes in wage levels, technology, and/or the organization’s production process.
  5. If the Control-factor index is higher than 1.5 then you should consider revising your unit rate for that task. 
  6. Control factor units should not be used when output can be measured instead of effort or time.

Conclusion 

Control Factor index is used to measure the intensity of labor performed on different tasks. 

Control-Factor Unit(s) are often used by cost estimators, to estimate the number of CFUs required for each different task in a project or for estimating the total number of CFUs needed for an entire project before beginning work. 

Control Factor Units can become obsolete due to changes in wage levels, technology, and/or the organization’s production process. 

It is used to measure work intensity and performance, which enables managers to compare the relative effort spent by different employees and to plan work schedules.

CFUs are used to compare and standardize different types of work across organizations, professions, and periods.
Control-factor units are often used by cost estimators, to estimate the number of CFUs required for each different task in a project or for estimating the total number of CFUs needed for an entire project before beginning work.
A Control-Factor is standardization of an activity or task that has been rated or graded on a numerical scale.
There are three types of Control-Factor Units: Regular Control Units, Output Control Units, and Machine Control Units.
One benefit is that the Control-Factor Index is standardized; therefore, it is easier to compare across different types of work, which enables managers to measure the relative effort spent by different employees and plan work.

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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