Budgeting Process: Complete Guide
Budgeting is a process whereby future income and expenditure are decided in order to streamline the expenditure process. Budgeting is done in order to keep track of the expenditures and income. It serves as a monitoring and controlling method in order to manage the finances of a business. It begins by deciding upon the financial goals according to which the budget will be made. Other important activities in the budgeting process include things such as forecasting, monitoring, controlling and evaluating the financial goals.
Budgeting process is very crucial for any business entity. Without a proper budget, a business can never keep track of how much it has earned and how much it has spent. Budget serves a great guide by which a business can oversee its income stream and can identify potential dangers to it beforehand. Furthermore, budget acts as a valuable tool in order to take control of how a business spends. A budget makes sure that all the money is being spent in the right direction and financial goals are attained. Some of the important aspects of the budgeting process are discussed as follows.
In this article, we look at 1) approaches to budgeting process, 2) components of a budget, 3) steps in the budgeting process, and 4) importance of budgets.
APPROACHES TO BUDGETING PROCESS
Budgeting can be done in a variety of ways, and it is always a smart choice to be aware of more than just a single way of budgeting. However, two of the most important approaches to budgeting process are:
In the top-down budgeting process, the primary input is made by the top-level executives of the business. The echelon of a certain organizational hierarchy lays down all the guidelines according to which budget will be made. They outline the financial goals that a budget should maintain. Moreover, guidelines related to sales budget, compensation, etc. are all given by the top management. The lower level management is given the least amount of participation in the budgeting process. They are only involved in executing these guidelines.
The bottom-up approach to budgeting adopts a more inclusive approach towards the budgeting process. Although the upper-level management gives out the general guidelines related for a budget, however, employees and the lower management formulate these budgets. Each division of the organization forms its budget in accordance to the general guidelines. In the end, the budget of the entire organization is formed by combining the individual budgets of each division. The bottom-up approach for a budgeting process is highly inclusive in nature. The employees overall tend to be much more committed to working under the budget in this approach. This is due to the fact that employees have participated in drawing up a budget and therefore they know that the budget is very acceptable.
COMPONENTS OF BUDGET
There are many divisions of an organization and therefore budgeting for each of the division is specific to its needs. When all the budgets of each division are combined, it results into the final budget, which is often referred to as the “Master Budget”. Various components of the budget are discussed as follows:
Sales budget outlines the forecasted income stream of the business. It is usually the first budget to be prepared as the revenue generated will ultimately determine the level of expenditure. Under the sales budget, sales of the business are forecasted. Sales are forecasted in terms of sales volume and the sales revenue. The forecasting is done on the following basis:
- Previous pattern of sales
- Economic conditions e.g. rate of inflation, interest rate, exchange rate, economic growth rate
- Political conditions
- State of competition in the market
- Other factors that can affect the sales e.g. technology, etc.
The production budget is of high importance in the overall budgeting process. It determines the number of units of a product that will be produced by the business. It also determines the cost at which the products have to be produced. Production budget is made according to the sales budget. Required sales units, opening inventory and required closing inventory are used to reach the number of units that have to be produced in a budgeted period.
Direct Material Purchases Budget
Direct materials, like the name suggests, are the ones that are being used directly in the production of goods. The budget related to direct material determines the amount and cost of these resources that will be required in the production activity.
Labor, Overhead, and SG&A Budget
Budgets related to labor, overhead and SG&A (selling, general and administrative) are prepared separately. They are then combined under a single head.
- The direct labor budget is prepared. Labor that participates in the production process forms the direct labor cost. This budget is prepared according to the number of labor hours and the cost per hour.
- Overheads are those costs that are not incurred directly in the production of goods, but are indispensable with regard to the production activity e.g. rent of the factory. The budget of the overhead cost is prepared in relation to the direct labor hours.
- SG&A costs are incurred in order to conduct the day to day operations of a business. They consist of fixed and variable costs.
Cash is known to have a similar importance to a business as blood has to body. No matter how successful a business is, if it runs out of cash, its survival is seriously jeopardized. In order to ensure smooth operations of the business, strong emphasis must be laid upon the development of cash budget. Cash budget helps to formulate in advance the payment and receipt cycles of the business and thus it ensures that cash is readily available to a business. By formulating cash budget, the business can keep track of its accounts receivables and accounts payable. In order to avoid shortage of cash, the business can arrange its credit plans related to accounts receivables and accounts payable accordingly.
Budgeted Financial Statements
Budgeted financial statements are prepared on the basis of each budget component. These budgeted financial statements are called pro forma financial statements. Through the budgeted financial statements, a business will be able to forecast its profits. Profit forecasting is important because it will determine the viability of carrying out the business.
STEPS IN THE BUDGETING PROCESS
Budgeting is a detailed process with several intricate steps leading up to understanding it at large. A step-by-step guide to the budgeting process is given as below.
1. Update budget assumptions
Budgets are always prepared on certain assumptions. Those assumptions could be related to the sales trends, cost trends or environmental conditions. Before embarking on preparing the budget, these assumptions must be thoroughly reviewed according to the recent environmental conditions.
2. Note Available funding
Limited funding can greatly hinder the growth projects of the business. Therefore, in the preparation of budgets adequate attention has to be given to the available funding as the availability of investable funds will determine the initiation of viable projects.
3. Step costing points
The business environment is subject to dynamism. Every day it is posed with challenges that can completely change its cost structure. Therefore, in the budgeting process certain factors that can affect the costing for the business should be closely considered. These factors should be identified beforehand in order to make the budget realistic.
4. Create budget package
In budget package, previous standards related to the budgeting process are taken in order to formulate a budget for the current period. Previous standards are updated according to the recent environmental conditions. Budget package is a kind of outline according to which budget has to be prepared.
5. Obtain revenue forecast
There is no denying the fact that sales budget is the most crucial budget of all. All the budgets are based on the sales budget. Furthermore, sales budget determines whether the business is generating enough revenue necessary for its survival. Therefore, adequate attention must be given to the preparation of sales budget by forecasting demand accurately.
6. Obtain department budgets
The department budgets will help to reach a budgeted expenditure for the budgeted period. Each department will prepare its own budget and then all of them will be combined to become a part of the master budget.
7. Validate compensation
Compensation plans are a significant component of the budgeting process. As compensation is subject to an annual increase, therefore, it should be prepared with great care. The approval for compensation increase should first be taken from the top management, and then it should be augmented in the budgeted compensation plans.
8. Validate bonus plans
In order to maintain the morale of the employees, bonuses are frequently given to out motivated workers. Bonuses act as an appraisal method. Bonus announcements that are not considered in the budgeting process can create havoc in the profits of the business. Therefore, any bonus plans should be taken into consideration beforehand. The top management should be consulted for any bonus plans.
9. Obtain capital budget requests
Capital expenditure ensures expansion of the business. It helps the business to avail the opportunities necessary for business growth. Any capital expenditure plans should be taken in advance, and they should be included in the budgeting process accordingly.
10. Update the budget model
Any changes in the assumptions of the budget model should be updated, and final budget should be prepared accordingly. A delay in this may lead to glitches later on that could cause confusion.
11. Review the budget
The budget should be reviewed thoroughly once it is prepared in order to correct any flaws. A little decimal placed wrongly can create quite an unbalance in the budget sheet.
12. Obtain approval
The budget should be presented to the top management. They will evaluate whether it has been prepared according to their requirements and finally l approve it if it does not need any changes.
13. Issue the budget
The budget should be formally issued after its approval. All the operations there and then will take place according to it.
IMPORTANCE OF BUDGETS
Budgets Set Targets
Budgets serve as a great tool for controlling and monitoring. They provide a coherent guideline according to which the business operations should be run. The budgets set targets for costs and revenues, targets that can then be achieved through a variety of ways.
Strategy Requires Funding
Budgets help to formulate the capital expenditure plans of the business. The available funding is always the first thing that is sought for in budget preparation. The available funding determines the kind of capital expenditure plans that a business can opt for. Furthermore, by knowing this in advance the business can decide upon the strategies that it can follow. Thus, budgeting greatly facilitates the formulation of strategies by outlining the available funding in advance.
Budgets Communicate Priorities
Budgets are a great way to communicate priorities. The allocation of budget to different divisions of the business says a lot about the priorities of the business. For example, if the business allocates huge amount of funding to sales department, it means that the business is laying strong emphasis on the sales and distribution of the project. While if a large amount of funding is given to research and development division, and then it implies that business wants to focus on the development of new products and excel in the market accordingly.
By accurately outlining the expenditures, the budgeting process helps to control the spending. Without a budget, a business will never be able to keep track of its expenditures and can ultimately face considerable loss. However, a budget provides them with vivid expectations through which they can always predict which way the business is headed.
Eliminate Turf Wars
By prioritizing the spending beforehand, the budgets help to eliminate the turf wars while deciding what projects to invest in. This helps particularly when Business divisions indulge in strong opinions about the allocation of funds. Otherwise, these arguments can distort the working environment to a great extent. Instead of working in collaboration, the business divisions start to work in opposite directions, which will ultimately harm the accomplishment of business goals.
Provides a Profit Margin
The budgeting process helps to form the pro forma financial statements. By developing these forecasted financial statements, a business can track its profit margins. This will determine whether it is profitable to run the business operations in future. If the business is not generating profit, the business will have sufficient time to adjust its revenue and costs beforehand. Profit generation is the most important factor due to which a business is running. Without generating profit, a business cannot hope to survive for long in the future.
Therefore, budget may seem like an added hassle but is an essential and core aspect of a business. It is through setting oneself a budget that the profit, income and savings can be categorically understood, saved and planned ahead. With a thorough and target based budget, each business becomes better equipped to analyze where the money comes from and also keep the record of where it goes. Creating a budget helps reduce the risk of unexpected losses because statistics can aid a business by predicting upcoming trends. Above all, it essentially allows them to be able to come up with newer schemes and strategies to induce a larger profit for the future. By properly and diligently following steps to understanding the set goals, individuals can learn how to work efficiently along the passage of time. It also helps them gain experience in their spending and allows them the margin to know what is saved and what overspent. Thus, it can be concluded that a budget is a highly useful tool when a business struggles with spending too much and receiving too little.