Unlock Your Team's Potential
Request a demo of our forecasting software today!
One Platform. Every Answer.
Real-time awareness through active data monitoring, notifications, and custom goal tracking.
Streamline your forecasting process while monitoring and measuring variance to drive constant improvement.
Drive productivity and results through individual assessments, improvement tracking, and notes.
Answer key questions around trends, risks, and past performance through snapshot reporting for any period and any subset of data.
How can Canopy help you?
What’s the Difference between Budgeting and Forecasting?
Check out our latest blog post about top down forecasting here!
Budgets and forecasts are two essential tools for keeping companies on their revenue targets. Budgeting tools, however, are only useful when coupled with forecasting tools for future cost and revenue projections.
Budgets are tools for analyzing your company’s financial success. Budgeting in management gives your company the tools to pick apart, measure, and quantify every aspect of the success of your organization.
What is a budget?
The ultimate goal of your company is to generate value for your shareholders. The budgeting process defines the success of your company in meeting its legal obligation to generate value for your shareholders in dollar terms. Your budget definition in terms of accounting rules (GAAP) identifies what is helping your company meet this obligation and what is standing in the way of meeting this obligation.
Your budget project process may set the pay scale for your senior executives (although this is not necessarily a good idea, because short-term financial metrics can be manipulated at the expense of the long-term financial health of your company). Your budget definition accounting process puts you on the radar of many outside parties, including investors and hedge fund managers, who place their bets on your company based on your budget projection data.
What are the types of budgets found in most companies?
Budgets can be as granular as companies want them to be. Budgets can aggregate costs for the entire company, or just for a single division or project. There can be budgets for office supplies, office equipment, office employee hours, and for office buildings.
In general, the types of budget analysis generated by companies include:
- The operating budget. The operating budget is what most people think of when they hear the term “budget.” This document projects expenses and revenues for a fixed period of time, typically a quarter or a year. It gives managers a metric for how well they are meeting their goals so they can make course corrections to meet the budget by the end of the time period.
- The financial budget. The financial budget goes beyond revenues and expenses to take into account changes in assets, liabilities, and shareholder equity. Lenders and investors look to the financial budget to assess the company’s financial health.
- The cash budget. Everyone who has to stick to a personal budget knows that income doesn’t always match outgo. Businesses develop cash budgets to project when they will have cash surpluses and when they will need short-term borrowing to meet current obligations.
- The labor budget. Labor budgets tell managers how many workers are needed to meet production goals and how much their labor will cost. Labor budges empower financial managers to plan for labor costs, including the cost of seasonal labor.
- The capital budget. This budget evaluates the impact of major capital purchases by your company. It tracks costs, the expected time for return on investment to cover the capital outlay for the new asset, and whether the new asset can be reasonably expected to generate net revenue for your business.
- The master budget. The master budget provides a big-picture look at the expected financial activity of the company over the next quarter or the next year. It helps managers see how their division fits into the business as a whole.
Some companies that have predictable monthly income and expenses, long-term service contractors to government agencies, for example, have static budgets, with the same expense and revenue projects for every month.
The reality is, many companies don’t go beyond a static budget even though they undergo dynamic changes in costs and income opportunities. They don’t meet goals, because they don’t take the time to budget for variations in operating costs, asset evaluations, contributions, and withdrawals of capital investment, labor, and capital assets. They start with a master budget and maybe work backward when problems arise. They don’t account for the difference between budget and budgetary control in their budgeting definition. But when your business is powered by Canopy’s single platform, you have instant access to actionable integrated budget and forecast data all the time, in snapshot form.
We’ll explain more about Canopy a little later. But right now, let’s look at an explanation of forecasting.
Many smaller companies operate under the mistaken conception that if they have a good CPA, that’s all they need. The reality is that no matter how talented your CPA may be, you need more than good, retrospective accounting.
There’s a difference between a budget and a plan. Accountants focus on recording what has already happened rather than planning for future risks and opportunities. Companies of all sizes need to complement their accountant work with budget analysis or financial forecasting to identify potential challenges and opportunities that may come up in the future.
Similarly, there’s a difference between a budget and a forecast. Budgets give managers fixed targets to find their way to their goals. Forecasts take both hazards and unusual opportunities into account. But forecasting doesn’t just pull numbers out of thin air. The difference between a budget and a forecast is that a forecast can take trends into account. A forecast gives management a range of possibilities to prepare for, so they can locate assets to put into use on short notice.
Certain kinds of financial measures bridge the gap between budget vs forecast vs projection. These financial metrics are essential to financial forecasting that can make or break your business:
- Liquidity measures: Days sales in receivables, days sales in inventory, account receivables turnover, current ratio, acid-test ratio, sales to working capital, cash flows to notes due.
- Profitability measures: Gross profit margin, net profit margin, return on capital, return on equity.
Knowing the difference between budget and forecast can make the difference between success and failure for your company. It isn’t enough to have clear goals for your company’s financial success. You also need to know how changing conditions affect your ability to reach them.
But really being able to forecast requires the ability to bring thousands of data points into one big picture. That’s what you can do with Canopy.
Situations and Examples
Let’s suppose your company is in the business of managing the budgeting and forecasting process for other companies. You’re the guru of budget forecasting techniques.
You’ll have a handy budget example and a budget forecast template for your clients. You’ll have budgeting and forecasting examples to sell your service. When you are in the budgeting and forecasting business, it’s the tiny differences between plan and budget that make the difference in how to run your forecast.
OK, what does that mean?
Let’s say ACE Business Budgets and Forecasts has 100 clients. Before you can analyze your inventory of projects vs your receivables vs your profit performance, you at least need to know which billable projects are completed, which billable projects are in progress, and which billable projects are on hold. You’ll need an easy way to find all the documents related to each client and each project. You’ll need to know which employees are assigned to the tasks needed to complete each project. And you may be tracking 10 employees for each of 10 projects for your 100 clients all at the same time.
Even if you are in the business of budgets and forecasting, you need Canopy.
Canopy gives you the power to help your managers stay on track to meet budget goals. Your operations managers take care of the similarities between plan and budget. But even companies in the business of budgets and forecasts need somebody out there getting new clients, and they need the right macro-management tools to be able to forecast revenues and expenses from future business. They need a budgeting and forecasting plan and they need the software to make their plan operational.
What You Can Do With a Budgeting and Forecasting Plan
Dynamic, growing companies of all kinds need a budgeting and forecasting plan, the tools that take over the data collection and aggregation that free sales managers from the minutiae of budget vs forecast vs projection and estimate vs forecast vs projection, so you won’t have to negotiate the difference between budget and plan. Canopy provides the software that goes beyond the mechanics of budget vs projection to provide the actionable company insights that make future planning automatic.
What are the features that make Canopy the one platform with every answer?
- Signals. Canopy uses historical data to recognize the signals that your company is about to encounter a golden opportunity or a bump in the road. Canopy’s opportunity and risk identification tools give you real-time notifications of signals from pipeline movement and KPI monitoring in customizable email digests delivered to the managers who need to see them, in time for action.
- Coaching. Canopy helps you recognize the critical KPIs that determine your company’s future success. With this data, you can coach front-line employees on actions that will generate profit.
- Analysis. Canopy helps you zoom in on the revenue and liquidity variables that its historic trend analysis identifies as upcoming challenges or opportunities. With Canopy, you can filter for any variable for an in-depth review. You’ll get automated slippage reporting so you can follow up with a stage-by-stage drill down.
Canopy gives you a snapshot of every change over your sales pipeline. With our full suite of information tools on a single platform, you can integrate individual-level coaching with company-wide performance.
The Right Forecasting Software
Canopy’s single, visual, customizable platform of budgeting and forecasting tools takes concerns about the relationship between budgeting and planning and business forecasting out of the equation. Our budgeting and forecasting tools put all the actionable information you need into a single platform with visual impact. We’re the only platform powered by augmented revenue analysis.
Do you need a financial planning and forecasting example? We can’t wait to speak with you! Get a demo of our platform today!
Looking for more information? Check out some of our other pages!