Budgeting is the formulation of plans for a given future period in numerical terms. Organizations may establish budgets for units, departments, divisions, or the whole organization.
The usual time period for a budget is one year and is generally expressed in financial terms. Budgets are the foundation of most control systems.
They provide yardsticks for measuring performance and facilitate comparisons across divisions, between levels in the organization, and from one time period to another.
Budgets usually serve four control purposes:
- They help manager’s co-ordinate resources;
- They help define the standards needed in all control systems;
- They provide clear and unambiguous guidelines about the organization’s resources and expectations, and
- They facilitate performance evaluations of managers and units.
Most organizations use a number of different kinds of budgets
- Financial Budgets;
- Operating Budgets and
- Non-Monetary Budgets.
Such budgets detail where the organization expects to get its cash for the coming time period and how it plans to spend it. Usual sources of cash include sales revenue, the sales of assets, the issuance of stock, and loans.
On the other hand, the common uses of cash are to purchase new assets, pay expenses, repay debts, or pay dividends to shareholders. Financial budgets may be of the following types:
- Cash budget: This is simply a forecast of cash receipts and disbursements against which actual cash “experience” is measured.It provides an important control in an enterprise since it breaks down incoming and outgoing cash into monthly, weekly, or even daily periods so that the organization can make sure it is able to meet its current obligations.
Cash budget also shows the availability of excess cash, thereby making it possible to plan for profit-making investment of surpluses.
- Capital expenditure budget: This type of financial budget concentrates on major assets such as a new plant, land or machinery.Organizations often acquire such assets by borrowing significant amounts through, say, long-term bonds or securities.
All organizations, large or small, business or non-business, pay close attention to such budget because of the large investment usually associated with capital expenditure.
- The balance sheet budget: It forecasts what the organization’s balance sheet will look like if all other budgets are met.Hence it serves the purpose of an overall control to ensure that other budgets mesh properly and yield results that are in the best interests of the organization.
This type of budget is an expression of the organization’s planned operations for a particular period. They are usually of the following types:
- The sales or revenue budget: It focuses on income the organization expects to receive from normal operations. It is important since it helps the manager understand what the future financial position of the organization will be.
- The expense budget: It outlines the anticipated expenses of the organization in a specified time period. It also points out upcoming expenses so that the manager can better prepare for them.
- The project budget: It focuses on anticipated differences between sales or revenues and expenses i.e. profit. If the anticipated profit figure is too small, steps may be needed to increase the sales budget or cut the expense budget.
Budgets of this type are expressed in non-financial sales or revenues and expenses, i.e. profit. If the anticipated profit figure is too small steps may be needed to increase the sales budget or cut the expense budget.
Fixed and variable budgets
Regardless of their purpose, most budgets must account for the three following kinds of costs:
- Fixed costs: They are the expenses which the organization incurs whether it is in operation or not. Salaries of managers may be an example of such cost.
- Variable costs: Such costs vary according to the scope of operations. The best example may be the raw materials used in production. If Tk.5 worth of material is used per unit. 10 units would cost Tk.50, 20 units would cost Tk.100 and so on.
- Semi-variable costs: They also vary, but in less direct fashion. Costs for advertising, repairs and maintenance, etc. may fall under this category.
All these categories of cost must be accurately accounted for in developing a budget. Fixed costs are usually the easiest to deal with. Variable costs can also be forecast, although with less precision from projected operations.
Semi-variable costs are the most difficult to predict because they are likely to vary, but not in direct relation to operations. For these costs, the manager must often rely on experience and judgment.
Advantages and disadvantages of budgeting
As a matter of fact, budgets offer a number of advantages. They have potential drawbacks as well. Both are summarized below;
|1.||Budgets facilitate effective control.||1.||Budgets may be used too rigidly.|
|2.||Budgets facilitate co-ordination and communication.||2.||Budgets may be time-consuming.|
|3.||Budgets facilitate record keeping.||3.||Budgets may limit innovation and change.|
|4.||Budgets are a natural complement to planning.||4.||However; Budgets hampers development, change, flexibility of plan.|
As shown in the table above, budgets facilitate effective control. By placing financial values on operations, managers can monitor operations effectively and pinpoint problem areas. Second budgets facilitate communication and co-ordination between departments.
Budgets also help maintain records of organizational performance. Finally, budgets are a natural complement to planning. As managers first plan and then develop control systems, budgets are often a natural next step.
On the minus side, some managers apply budgets too rigidly. They fail to understand that budget adjustments are necessary to meet the challenges of changing circumstances. Also, the art of developing budgets can most often be time-consuming.
Moreover, budgets may limit innovation and change. When all available funds are allocated to specific operating budgets, it may be impossible to get additional funds to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity.
In fact budgets are an important element of an organization’s control system. It is difficult to imagine an organization functioning without proper budgetary provisions.
Despite some drawbacks, budgets generally provide managers with an effective tool for executing the control function.
Making Budgetary Control Effective
Budgetary control can be made effective if an organization can ensure the following:
Setting appropriate standard
This is a key to successful budgeting. Many budgets fail for lack of such standards, and some upper-level managers hesitate to allow subordinates to submit budget plans for fear that they may have no logical basis for reviewing budget requests.
Ensuring top-management support
Budget making and administration must receive the whole-hearted support of top ‘management.
If top management supports budget making, requires departments and divisions to make and defend their budgets, and participate in this review, then budgets encourage alert management throughout the organization.
Participation by users in budget preparation
Besides the support of top management, the concerned managers at lower levels should also participate in its preparation. Real participation in budget preparation is necessary to ensure success.
It may also prove worthwhile to give department managers a reasonable degree of latitude in changing their budgets and in shifting funds, as long as they meet their total budgets.
Providing information to managers about performance under budget
If budgetary control is to work well, managers need ready information about actual and forecast performance under budgets by their departments. Such information must be so designed as to show them how well they are doing.