I understand that for the first time, our company is considering the implementation of flexible budgeting for the upcoming fiscal year. I think this will serve us very well going forward, as it represents an improved approach to understanding the variances that naturally result when actual performance differs from our budgeted projections.
The key attribute of the flexible budget is that by using actual volume totals, the flexible budget provides an expected cost structure and bottom-line result based on an adjusted volume figure that differs from the original master budget. Put another way, if everything was exactly in line with what we budgeted except for volume, how would that have changed our overall costs and bottom line? From here, we compare the "flexible budget" output to actual results for both revenues and costs in order to determine the impact of variances outside of pure volume differences. As with the implementation of any new methodology, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of moving forward.
There are advantages to using flexible budgeting. Flexible budgeting allows us to look at different volume levels in order to determine where we may have achieved cost efficiencies and inefficiencies. We can also use flexible budgeting to forecast bottom-line profits or losses based solely on selling more or fewer units than the master budget predicts.
However, volume alone is not enough to explain variances between budgets and actuals. Flexible budgeting facilitates variance analysis by isolating per-unit revenue, per-unit variable costs, and overall fixed costs from volume for comparisons between actuals and budgets.
Flexible budgeting does have disadvantages. Per-unit revenues, per-unit variable costs, and fixed costs are required to utilize flexible budgeting and, as such, the accuracy of these numbers from a budgeting standpoint is critical. Also assessing the relevant range is extremely important because within this range, cost behaviors are expected to hold true; outside of this range, standards per unit and fixed costs may vary dramatically.
I am excited that we are considering this path as a potential budgeting methodology in the future. If you have any questions regarding the information I have provided here, I am happy to meet with you to further discuss this approach.