A budget variance occurs when the actual results of your financial activity differ from your budgeted projections. Since your expectations were based on knowledge from your financial history, micro- and macroeconomic factors, and new information, if there is a variance, it is because your estimate was inaccurate or because one or more of those factors changed unexpectedly. If your estimate was inaccurate—perhaps you had overlooked or ignored a factor—knowing that can help you improve. If one or more of those factors has changed unexpectedly, then identifying the cause of the variance creates new information with which to better assess your situation. At the very least, variances will alert you to the need for adjustments to your budget and to the appropriate choices.
There are different types of budgeting that businesses typically use and those include Operating budgets, Capital Budgets and there are many subtypes that exist because a budget can also be created for special events, the recruitment and retention of new staff, and to manage the advertising expenses and return on investments for a business (Demand Media, 1999-2012). According to Demand Media (1999-2012), "An operating budget outlines the total operating expenses and income for the organization, typically for the period of a fiscal year. Capital budgets evaluate the investments and assets of the business, and a cash budget shows the predicted cash flow in and out of the business over a period of time” (para.2 ). According to the Cost-Benefit Analysis (2012), “Capital budgeting has at its core the tool of cost-benefit analysis; it merely extends the basic form into a multi-period analysis, with consideration of the time value of money. In this context, a new product, venture, or investment is evaluated on a start-to-finish basis, with care taken to capture all the impacts on the company, both cost and benefits. When these inputs and outputs are quantified by year, they can then be discounted to present value to determine the net present value of the opportunity at the time of the decision” ("Cost-Benefit Analysis," 2012).
In this task I will be explaining what a budget is, why it used by companies and I will have to show how it helps a company in controlling its finance.
A company's budget serves as a guideline in planning and committing costs in order to meet tactical and strategic goals. Tactical goals such as providing budgetary costs for daily operations, and strategic objectives that include R&D, production, marketing, and distribution are all part of the budgeting process. Serving as a guideline rather than being set in stone, the budget is a snapshot of manager's "best thinking at the time it is prepared." (Marshall, 2003, p.496) The budget is a method in which to reign-in discretionary spending, and will likely show variances between what costs have been anticipated and what costs are actually incurred.
Budgeting is the systematic method of allocating financial, physical, and human resources to achieve an organization’s strategic goals. Budgets are utilized by for-profit and non-profit organizations to monitor the progress towards the goals, assist in the control of spending, and help predict cash flow for the organization.
This budget can assist the company in determining when more cash resources are needed, and if excess cash is available for future investing or saving (Parry, 2006). The company can plan accordingly over a period of time if a cash budget is created and utilized efficiently. Without a cash budget, the company will flounder in times of economic stress, and have excess cash wasting interest by lying about. It is a plan, and just like any other plan like marketing or sales plans, it is best used before a crisis or challenge occurs.
A budget can be disadvantageous also. There is judgment and subjectivity in the budgeting process. It does not consider quality and customer service. Budgets can be seen as pressure devices imposed by management, thus resulting in: bad labour relations. Budget could results departmental conflict arises due to disputes over resource allocation, and departments blaming each other if targets are not attained. It is difficult to reconcile personal and corporate goals
Budget formulation and use are tools that guide many decision making strategies in business. The measures that are least effective could create an avalanche of catastrophic events that can negatively impact the decision making strategies. It is in the best interest of the pertinent parties to draft an operating budget based on a collective set of information relating to organizational vision and mission. Ineffective measures can be catastrophic based on the foundation for measures used in creating the budget. Among the many issues organizations face that relates to creating an effective operating budget results from poor
Budget is time-consuming, especially if it involves a poorly managed company. The budget only pays attention to the quantitative aspect of business while neglecting the qualitative aspects. It does not consider the quality of services or goods and therefore inconsiderate of customers’ satisfaction. Another disadvantage of a budget is that it is inaccurate. A firm rarely “makes budget.” The hope is that the business activity will be close to the budget, but it could be off considerably and lead to bad hiring, spending and production decisions. This is because budget preparation is based on assumptions and thereby changes in the business environment could lead to unachievable
The 20’s century saw the use of budget involve due to a change in the environment. Indeed the control of output used to be obtained by the dissemination of tasks and so traditional budgets were very much highlighted, with a significant top-down influence. As an example of the importance of budget in the 1970’s IBM had about 3,000 people involved in their budgetary process. During the same period, the oil crisis brought concerns about rising in costs and led to the introduction of zero-based budgeting (ZBB), which can lower cost by avoiding blanket increases or decreases to a prior period’s budget. The increase in business uncertainties was in discrepancy with the stifling effect of fixed plans, promoting the use of rolling budgets. The 1990’s saw the growing influence of shareholders and steered the focus on a budget that included a wider view of organisation results, answering the investment community for quarterly updates on results and expectations (Bill Ryan, 2005). Budgets then started being used as a communication tool between the financial community and the organisation, allowing the corporation to be integrated in the capital market. Moreover companies started using flexible budgets rather than static budgets as nowadays various levels of activities can be observed in most organisations. The use of flexible budgets then enables firms to be consistent with their new environment and the market.
Traditional budgeting, according to Drury (2009), is a once in a year tradition where managers representing each department come together and draw up a total budget for the organization which details the cost that would be incurred for the upcoming year. Drury further goes on to claim how traditional budgeting has, on numerous occasions, been termed as inflexible and unpredictable as it is purely based on assumptions and speculations. A traditional budget lists incomes, subtracts expenses and then makes final adjustments to the budget. A study conducted by Bourne, Neely and Heyns (2002) on a number of companies that use traditional budgeting show that
It is possible that managers will set budgets which are not in line with the organization’s strategy as lower-level managers lack strategic focus. Moreover, lower-level managers may have difficulties to set up the budget because their budget may depend on the forecasts of other departments as for example, the cost of production may depend on the scale of production which has to be estimated by the sales department. Furthermore, employees need to be trained in setting up budgets and there needs to be someone who controls the submission of all budgets at a specified time. In this respect, absences and changes in position may become a challenge when conducting a bottom-up budgeting method.
Budget is a comprehensive business plan for procuring and appropriating a firm’s financial resources over a specified time period.
Budget and budgetary control practices are undeniably indispensable as organizations routinely go about their business activities and operations. These organizations are constantly on the alert on how actual levels of performance agree with planned or budgeted performance. A budget expresses a plan in monetary terms. It is prepared and approved prior to a particular budgeted period and explicitly may show the income, expenditure and the capital to be employed by organizations in achieving their goals and objectives.
Many businesses expect employees to achieve budget targets as part of their overall performance. While the specifics requirements of each employee differ with the position and nature of the company, it is common for employees to be expected to sell a certain number of items, control costs versus a budgeted amount or reduce waste compared with a benchmark. A potential downfall of using budget information for performance evaluation is that employees may be so concerned with making budget targets that they may do so at the cost of other parts of the business.