15 Best Practices for Effective Budget Forecasting for Your Business

Enabling Business Organizations for continuous planning over a set time horizon for the next twelve months either by end of each quarter or with a singular traditional approach. With stakeholders, vendors, employees, technology, and infrastructure involving in the budget forecasting process, businesses can compile ideal financial models for business requirements. Even though budgeting and forecasting can be a challenging process, businesses must rise up to the same and strive in laying the foundation for their fiscal health. The aim of this article is for shedding light on best practices of effective Budget Forecasting for mid-sized and larger organizations. OURS GLOBAL’s Financial & Accounting Services empowers businesses for setting targets for income and expenditure holding themselves accountable for targets as the year progresses. With financially stable business practices, we support dedicated in-house professionals for the effective management of budgets and forecasts.

Following are the Fifteen Best Practices for Effective Budget Forecasting for Your Business: 

1. Standardization of Data and Processes

With manual error being the biggest factor for inefficient budgeting, the use of standard templates for the consolidated method of data collection cust down many errors and helps in effective streamlining of the entire data collection process. The application of a cloud-based system for data collection will eliminate all version issues and ensure the automation of data integration. With a complex budgeting process curbing revenue from wholesale, retail, and online channels, using an efficient cloud-based budgeting system will nullify the requirement for error-prone spreadsheets as well as other version control issues.

2. Extensive Focus over Business Drivers

Opting for driver-based planning helps businesses focus on the real business drivers of the business, contradictive to giving attention to the serial numbers in the spreadsheet. With driver-based planning, businesses can ensure skillful identification and focus on factors critical for their success. This also helps them in designing mathematical models that enable managers for running scenarios based on such critical drivers for getting a clear-cut understanding of the impact of projected business results. Avoiding the practice of budgeting each line of an item parallel to the chart of accounts, in-house professionals over criteria that truly influence the business and leverage driver-based planning techniques for calculating the same. Business driver planning supports business for quicker budget iterations with budgeting for initial target setting and shorter business cycles. 

3. Continuous Evaluation of Past Performance

Accurate planning requires an effective comparison of budgets for actual critical performance. Supporting businesses in drawing data from other systems in business organizations and using the same for accurate calculation and better predictive analysis. Studying past performance helps users for creating financial and operational models capable of performing diverse scenarios for predicting the results of business decisions. With unique and effective “break back” features, businesses can effectively manipulate data within a model for getting insights from past performance. Overriding this model’s output helps businesses to achieve target result with proportionate input values. Not practiced in many companies, these are extremely inaccurate with an extensive number of inputs.  

4. Automation

Businesses must have a clear understanding of the tools they use and what they could get the most out of. Businesses must be well sure that the application of spreadsheets or any other budgeting or forecasting application can show desirable results inside out alongside comprehensive features. With the automation of such practices, businesses can get the most out of application features over usability, accuracy, and speed.

5. Being Realistic

Successful budgeting and forecasting require accurate reflection of reality. Without being stuck in the past, businesses must choose themselves for frequent updating for skillful reflection of economic, organizational, and other outside variables. Most of the multi-year budgets turn out to be useless only because of material deviations. Businesses must establish effective processes for evaluating the cause of changes and adjustment of budgets & forecasts accordingly. Keeping a clear-cut vision over the end product will enable businesses for well-tailored approaches and assign workloads as per reality measures.

6. Improved Visibility

Discouraging traditional line-item budgeting and linking financial investments to adequate results or outcomes enable businesses for in-depth analysis and understanding of the ROI for a line of business or initiative. With the implementation of a performance-based framework, businesses can allocate resources for specific objectives or activities based on suitable metrics. With such a framework, businesses can maximize visibility into how financial decisions can enable translation into results.

7. Iterative Group Discussions

Last-minute budget allocation for meeting artificial deadlines is an ineffective approach, as these can lead to failure in the accomplishment of desired results. With an ideal budgeting process, businesses can narrow down goals with specific business plans and metrics devised from iterative group discussions. With constructive communication, businesses can provide narrative support of numbers that can derive successful business results. 

8. Focussing over Accounting Structures

Typical development of budgets with account structure as the general ledger helps in effective tracking. But this approach can lead to failure in the representation of how a business is actually run. Following are the additional structures that a budget must contain:   

  1. Planning structure – Helps businesses in identifying major strategies and priorities that must be executed

  2. Reporting structure – Gives businesses a clear understanding of change under varied scenarios

9. Performance-Based Evaluation Framework for Bigger Picture

Developing budgets with requests from stakeholders whose projected expenditures are from departmental requirements rather than overall company goals is an old trick. Encouraging extended arbitrary decision-making process, this traditional approach can’t be objectively supported or justified. For the establishment of concrete targets and priorities, businesses require a performance-based framework that aims at strategic goals and seamless communication of desired targets to all stakeholders who are involved in the budget process. Allowing businesses to make quicker decisions, this approach also ensures cutting down of budget negotiation issues that arise from competing interests and priorities.

10. Ommission of too much Detailing

Accuracy requires extensive detailing but too much-detailing hinders the whole budgeting and forecasting process. Overloading information and slowing down the process, excessive detailing can lead to miscalculations and material errors. Focussing on detailing where it matters and planning in more detail for the short term and less detail further out unless businesses have proven predictive capabilities can lead to volatile budget assumptions.   

11. Accountability With Accessibility

Business unit leaders must be held accountable for their own budgets and plans by not locking them out of the finance process. Equipping the business leaders with tools for quick completion of the processes accurately and comprehensively without any guesswork is ideal. Equipping with data access for creating accurate budgets with real-time data supports these leaders in making data-driven decisions. Scrambled data over systems and spreadsheets is nearly impossible for giving required insights. Prolonged budgeting processes and reporting often derail financial closing. Detailed reports over the state of business and the respective department require automated and accurate budgeting and reporting processes. With a minimum amount of time over report creation, businesses can develop effective budgets and plans. 

12. Shortened Budget Cycles

Curbing up considerable company time, budgeting takes months for a comprehensive full cycle in organizations. With varied budgeting times for each company varied over their size and complexity, businesses must choose a longer planning cycle that infers the prediction of events too far in the future. For timely and current conditions, businesses must not take more than thirty days for preparation of planning.  

13. Adoption of Analytics

The adoption of analytics technology helps businesses in maximizing their budgeting, forecasting, and performance management capabilities. Speeding up the decision-making process with accessible data analytics also highlights trends and exceptions, fostering understanding over various performance drivers and their relationship for future outcomes. Analytics also helps in the development of newer insights with extensive usage of data, predictive modeling, and statistical & quantitative analysis.

14. Inclusion of Non-Financial Data

While budget preparation, businesses must consider the impact of non-financial data such as efficiency metrics, customer conversion & retention rates. employee productivity rates, customer support tickets, average time for hiring, and other relevant non-financial data. With proper planning, budgeting and forecasting, businesses can make effective usage of non-financial data for forecasting within 90-95 percent accuracy. With this approach, businesses can also forecast beyond a 12-month window compared with ones that don’t do the same. 

15. Increased Refinement Frequency

With effective annual budgeting and planning process, businesses can identify outdated budgets as soon as approved. Revising budget results on a regular basis helps businesses with continuous planning that enables rapid planning and reviewing of cycles for supporting agile operations. For shortened budgeting process, businesses shouldn’t choose huge budgets but go for annual budgets that set initial targets. Thus revisiting and updating the budget assumptions on a time to time basis helps to roll out accurate forecasts. 

Every year, businesses promise themselves in setting aside ample time for focusing on their budgeting and forecasting processes to ensure smooth running. Most of the time, businesses will not be able to stick to their resolutions. But the best practices that are mentioned above will give businesses the apt opportunity not to repeat the same mistake again. Businesses cannot fix everything at once but with small steps forward in covering the best practices. Otherwise, outsource your Budget Forecasting service requirements to an ideal service provider such as OURS GLOBAL’s Financial and Accounting Service assures your business with accurate planning and budget forecasting at its best. Ping us right away! 

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