Flow development tools and metrics are the latest in a long line of approaches designed to control and improve software development productivity and the overall quality of software produced. While there are many claims regarding the value of flow to control development activity, there is a lack of rigorous research on this topic. In this study, we use control theory as a lens to explore how flow tools and metrics are used to enact both formal and informal control modes. This qualitative study draws on a cross-case analysis of two multinationals located in Ireland that involved interviews with five software development teams distributed across Ireland, India, and the US. The findings reveal that both managers and project teams try to conduct business as usual in order to maintain their control status. This study contributes four key challenges on the use of flow tools, evidence-based recommendations on how to effectively implement flow, and a research agenda for future researchers. While the findings are within the context of flow-based software development projects, the lessons learned can be generalised to other software development contexts.