Variance analysis of budget, Financial Management

Variance Analysis:

In its commonest form variance analysis is the process of comparing budgeted financial performance (or financial goals) against actual financial performance.

During the budget process the organisation would have set financial targets for each particular area of revenue or expense.  In the context of project budgeting, the targets are the expenditure limits that were identified during the budget development process.

Against these targets, actual performance is compared and the variance between the two recorded.

By analysing the variance, organisations can quickly see which areas are exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, or failing to meet expectations. Armed with such information, management can take corrective action. In the context of total business performance, variance analysis is generally scheduled to occur at the same time the preparation and communication of profit and loss statement, or cash flow statements, are scheduled. In the context of project budgeting, it is likely that separate variance analysis scheduling will occur and shorter intervals (and depending on the project) to ensure performance against expectations is maintain and avoid the potential for a budget blow out.

An example of a budget variance analysis could be as follows:

Variance Analysis - Relocation Project Sep 200X

J & J Real Estate 

Item Description

Budget ($)


Variance ($)

Variance (%)

Purchase Price





Purchase Costs





Repairs/Fit Out





Relocation Costs





Business Interruption





Marketing Campaign















The previous example is deliberatly designed as an end of project analysis where all expenditure is compared and variations against budget recorded. In reality, there would be a number of scheduled comparisons throughout the project. The project team would be required to breack total budget down into monthly (or even weekly) levels to enable continuous tracking to take place. In doing so, the organisation can anticipate problems as they arise and take measures to alleviate the impact or reallocate funding accordingly.

Posted Date: 10/1/2012 4:23:13 AM | Location : United States

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