Set in Stone?


I once was one of fourteen callow people in a year-long management training program at a large company. One assignment given the entire group was to develop the company’s budget for the next year. We had, if I recall correctly, the month of November to do this as it had to be entered into the mainframe GL application by December 1st . We even had use of a personal computer and spreadsheet program (I think it was VisiCalc, and I’m dating myself here). This was an important project and we did well. Even I contributed.

Later on, I became a manager at that company, and I (and my manager) received reports every month showing how my department was spending compared to the budget. I had to write an excuse reason for every line line item that was more than 10% over budget for the period or year to date. By three or four months into the year, I was doing that for most line items, as my job was intrapreneurial (Is that still a thing? It was then.) and always in flux, particularly with hiring people for new projects. The budget exception reporting became something of a time-wasting joke.

Some of you may remember when Solomon had four ledgers: ACTUAL, BUDGET, MEMO1, and MEMO2 (they were “arrays” of columns rather than separate rows). I still see vestiges of these at some sites, but with Dynamics SL one can, of course, have as many ledgers as one likes.

You can make your reporting much more useful and meaningful if you approach budgeting as a process instead of a project. Just as you revise your forecast to reflect changing conditions, you can use a revised budget to better reflect reality. It’s fine to still have a column on your internal reports for the original budget, but the more important numbers are the revised budget. This will keep you on track even as your original budget becomes correctly incorrect.

The Budget Upload option for XLstatements simplifies this process. You can use your original budget as the Source ledger and easily view and change any figures to use as the revised budget Target. You can also use the revised budget as its own source, changing future numbers by examining actual history for the year and by forecasting from that.


Budgets need not, and should not, be set in stone.

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