What is Flexible Budget? Variance, Formula and Example

What is Flexible Budget? Variance, Formula and Example

period management

Additionally, at 50% capacity, working the product costs $180 per unit and it is sold at $200 per unit. Sales decline, but direct labor costs do not decline at the same rate, because management elected to retain the production staff. Sales increase, but factory overhead costs do not increase at a similar rate, since the sales are from inventory that was produced in a prior period.

A factory is currently working at 50% capacity and produces 10,000 units. Estimate the profits of the company when the factory works at 60% and 80% capacity, and offer your critical comments. Semi-variable expenses remain constant between 45% and 65% capacity, increasing by 10% between 65% and 80% capacity, and by 20% between 80% and 100% capacity. According to this data, the monthly flexible budget would be $35,000 + $8 per MH.

Methods for Flexible Budgeting

Michael McFall, co-founder and co-CEO of Biggby Coffee and author of Grind, a new guide for entrepreneurs looking to build self-sustaining businesses, sees potential for too much wiggle room. In a previous article we covered the what, when and how of rolling forecasts. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a good idea to check that out. Our mission is to empower readers with the most factual and reliable financial information possible to help them make informed decisions for their individual needs.

Flexible budgeting is a budgeting process which consists of preparing multiple budget scenarios that are adjusted for different volumes. These adjustments occur due to other changes within the activities of the business and allow a flex in order to have room in the budget for these alterations. The flexible budget is the opposite of the static budget, which stays fixed and does not consider the possible fluctuations. The static budget may be inaccurate if the actual volumes vary from the projected volumes.

How do we create a flexible budget?

Budgeting is an essential part of planning, financial control, and performance management. It is a competency that must be acquired for anyone who is working in finance and accounting and is also a topic which is guaranteed to come up on your Performance Management exam. Expect to see it in Sections A or B, and there is a fair chance of it appearing in Section C, so you need to be ready to handle 20-mark questions from both a numerical and a discussion-based perspective. This series of articles will cover the budgeting approaches flexible budgeting, activity-based budgeting, rolling budgeting, zero-based budgeting, and beyond budgeting.

  • Now that we know how to create the flexible budget, the next step is to understand the variance analysis – the comparison between the flexible budget and the business’s actual performance.
  • Flexible budgeting can also tie into anything related to headcount .
  • The master budget, and all the budgets included in the master budget, are examples of static budgets.
  • This adaptability allows flexible budgets to offer a precise picture of company performance, seeing as they’re always working with the most current data and details.

For example, a company may decide to use 10% of its revenue for marketing purposes. The company can then create a flexible budget to allocate 10% of its earned revenue instead of a specific fixed amount. The flexible budget can be categorized into three different types.


If the factory works hrs in a particular month, the allowances @ $0.61 will come put to be $9,760, which is not correct. As shown in the above table, the accurate allowance is computed to be $8,880. Using a flexible budget will immediately alert you to any changes that are likely to impact your bottom line, allowing you to make changes proactively instead of reactively. And with out-of-the-box metrics, templates, and dashboards like the forecast vs. actuals dashboard, you can shorten the budget allocationand planning process from two weeks down to two days.

flexible budget

Both static and flexible budgets are designed to estimate future revenues and expenses. With static budgets, costs of operations and product profit margins are set at the start of the year, based on historical data. Variable expenses in flexible budgets are defined as percentages of sales. For example, if sales were to increase dramatically, flexible budgets would get adjusted to increase spending on marketing to take even more advantage of unexpected increases in revenues. New flexible budgeting provides greater advantages compared to static budgets, there are some limits involved as well.

How Flexible Budgets Work

The flexible budget can help to measure the performance of employees and managers. Input any changes or adjustments for a specific accounting period when it has completed. However, it is suitable when there is a probability of fluctuations in fixed costs. It analyses the costs with respect to the variations in the output levels. Consequently, the categorization of cost takes place under Fixed, Variable and Semi-variable.

A flexible budget is a budget that changes based on your actual production or revenue. Unlike a static budget, it adjusts your original budget projection in using your actual sales or revenue. The flexible budget example below displays both the original static budget amount as well as a flexible budget based on increased production levels. If you manage a high-level production environment, creating a flexible budget can help mitigate the typical variances found on static budgets. With flexible budgets, managers are constantly updating their projections and cost controls with current information. The most significant advantage of flexible budgets over static ones is the ability to adapt to changes in the real world.


Most flexible budgets use a percentage of projected revenue to account for variable costs rather than assigning a rigid numerical value at the start. Total Overhead Costs$92,500Units Produced (70% capacity)17,500To keep the example simple, we assume that the first four costs are strictly variable and we will calculate a budget per unit for these costs. On the other hand, the last two costs, depreciation and supervision, are fixed costs and are assumed to be constant over the entire relevant range of activity meaning they do not change based on volume.

She’s covered a variety of topics including news, business, entrepreneurship, music, and graphic design. The fallacy in cost classification under fixed and variable heads. At first, you need to analyze the range under which the activity is expected to fluctuate. Creating a budget, even one that’s not constantly evolving, can be an overwhelming to-do on the never-ending checklist facing leaders of emerging businesses. Cash is the lifeblood of any business — and allocating it effectively is integral to success. The above scenario is the initial budget assuming 100% activity.

flexible budgets

You should perform a flexible budgeting variance analysis for each activity to gain valuable information on discrepancies in planning and operations. A flexible budget variance is a calculated difference between the planned budget and the actual results. In the example above, the company has set a target of 85% production capacity. The budgeted or planned sales volume of 212,500 units yields a $740,625 profit. A fixed budget is one that stays the same and doesn’t change based on variable costs.

Our writing and editorial staff are a team of experts holding advanced financial designations and have written for most major financial media publications. Our work has been directly cited by organizations including Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Investopedia, Forbes, CNBC, and many others. Finance Strategists is a leading financial literacy non-profit organization priding itself on providing accurate and reliable financial information to millions of readers each year. Though the flex budget is a good tool, it can be difficult to formulate and administer.

While accounting software is an important part of tracking all of your financial transactions, many software applications simply don’t have the capability of preparing a flexible budget. Expenses such as rent, management salaries, and marketing costs remain static and do not change based on production. Strategic Planning A Guide to the Strategic Budgeting Process in SaaS When it comes to budgeting and financial planning, today’s SaaS companies can benefit from greater flexibility and improved cost control. Learn more about strategic budgeting, and how it helps high-growth companies continue making proactive, strategic decisions.

It helps to determine the quantity/amount of output to be produced to help the company achieve the desired profit level. Today, we’re announcing our biggest product release since we first launched Mosaic. Meet Metric Builder, a new way to build and customize metrics for the nuances that make your business special. Get a demo today and learn how to unlock the full potential of your financial and operational data. It has increased cost controls since the budget measures more precisely and efficiently. For example, a company expects to make $2,000 when they produce 500 units of a product.

But with Mosaic, you can streamline processes and break down siloes to act as a more collaborative partner to everyone in the business. Flexible budgets are produced in real time to account for changes in revenue based on variations in units sold or sales price. A flexible budget is one that takes into account your actual production and revenue rather than what you originally projected. This represents your best guess at what will be spent and what will be earned. Now, between 85% and 95% of the activity level, its semi-variable expenses increase by 10%, and above 95% of the activity level, they grow by 20%. Prepare a flexible budget for the three scenarios wherein the activity levels are 80%, 90%, and 100%.

This analysis would compare the actual level of activity so volume variances are not a factor and management can focus on the cost variances only. Lobster Instant Noodles make instant ramen noodles in cups that are commonly eaten by university students across the world. Simply add boiling water, close the lid for 3 minutes and you’ve got an instant meal.

A flexible budget is best used in a manufacturing environment where the budget is able to be based on production volume. Similarly, while a static budget would limit hiring more employees, a flexible budget would adapt to the need for more staff to meet increased demand by increasing the budget for payroll expenses. It’s a budget that is prepared at the beginning of the year and not changed until it’s time to make a new one at the start of the next year. The numbers do not change for the entire year, regardless of anything that happens in the business environment. Variances or differences in the actual budget give a small business important information about performance elements such as overhead costs and profit. The revenue in a flexible budget cannot be compared to the actual revenue made by the company.

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Generally, the term variance refers to any kind of difference existing between two components. By that he means a one-page budget overview that illustrates just about everything that’s going to happen in the organization. “From there, you can drill down and get o multiple layers of complexity,” he said.

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If you’re constantly monitoring, you can reallocate funds on the fly. Maybe you spent less on facilities than expected, but new tariffs mean manufacturing is not going to make its numbers. By investing what you would have spent on utilities and in-office food service on a one-time effort to find and sign on alternate suppliers, you set that team up for more predictable costs going forward. For example,Figure 10.26shows a static quarterly budget for 1,500 trainers sold by Big Bad Bikes.

James Woodruff has been a management consultant to more than 1,000 small businesses. As a senior management consultant and owner, he used his technical expertise to conduct an analysis of a company’s operational, financial and business management issues. James has been writing business and finance related topics for work.chron, bizfluent.com, smallbusiness.chron.com and e-commerce websites since 2007.

Whether switching to a flexible budgeting process from a static model or starting from scratch, there are keys to success. Unlike a static budget where you set it once and repeat the formula, a flexible budget requires constant monitoring and tweaking — with no guaranteed rewards. The hours of analysis and modifications could be rendered futile if predicted conditions, trends or objectives change. They allow managers to predict the effect that changes will have on their company’s income statement and balance sheet while still being able to reflect actual figures. It helps to provide accurate forecasts without using theoretical data since they are based on what occurred. Now let’s illustrate the flexible budget by using different levels of volume.

retained earnings on this information, the flexible budget for each month would be $40,000 + $10 per MH. The columns would continue below with fixed and variable expenses, allowing you to see how your net profit changes based on changes in actual production and revenue. Your flexible budget would then look at revenue, based on both units sold and sales price.