Main Purposes Of Budgeting Accounting Essay

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As Bhimany et al. stated in 2008 "A budget is a quantitative expression of proposed plan of action by management for a future time period and is an aid to the coordination and implementation of the plan. It can cover both financial and non-financial aspects of these plans and acts as a blue-print for the company to follow in the forthcoming period".

The budgeting system is a conventional way of handling and directing companies. Financial departments use the budgeting method to plan and organize them company's business activities in the following year of their company. Budget is a standard with which the actual data can be compared. (Joshi et al., 2003)

Some of the primary purposes of the budget are to motivate employees, allocate resources and coordinate operations within an organization. Budgeting is aimed to facilitate responsibility distribution and is used to evaluate performance (Libby & Lindsay, 2003).

Especially nowadays, because of the financial crisis that Greece and many other European countries are going through, businesses operating in those countries need to feel secured and protected. This is where budget gets involved in order to inform the management of the company on what will be the expenses for the upcoming year.

Main Purposes of Budgeting

Companies used budget at its very first years of existence as a control function only (Libby & Lindsay, 2003), but nowadays there are several objectives and purposes of the budget and the purposes differ from company to company. Drury (2004) mentions that the main purposes of budgeting are:


Companies must know that they act in the best way in order to achieve their goals and targets. This is where budget is coming to plan the future activities of the organization.

Planning budget is used to plan sales, financial issues, purchase of material, etc. Through planning, a company can be aware of how many recourses are needed, giving the possibility to plan inflows and outflows of liquidity.

The managers, who set a budget, must be aware of any future changes or problems that may occur. This gives the privilege to take actions in order to avoid that problem before it strikes the company (Granof & Khumawala, 2010).


All units within an organization are, more or less, dependent on each other. By using a budget the units have to cooperate and compromise when it concerns limited resources.

Every unit has their own budget and when these budgets are compiled, defects and inaccuracies are revealed. The budgets can be a way to discover coordination and cooperation problems.

The budget is meant to make it possible to see the organization as a whole and try to solve conflicts. If departments have different ways of doing things, the budget makes the departments' compromise and work together, in order to make the budget for the whole organization complete.

To reduce the risk of overcapacity within the company it is important to dimension the organization. By comparing budgets from departments they contribute to coordinate the size of production.


Budgets contribute to good communication through the exchange of information that takes place during the budgetary process.

The budget process enables employees to communicate and share their ideas with other workers within the organization. Through discussions, employees can share their opinions and ideas with each other.

For managers, the budget can be used to communicate and explain strategies and goals within the company to the employees. Furthermore it connects departments and gives insight and understanding for each other.

Resource allocation

Budgets are aimed to facilitate resource allocation within companies, secure that the resources are being used effectively and that the right amount is distributed to the departments, which is crucial.

Units in the organization get different priorities. By distributing resources to units, resource allocation could be seen as a control tool. However, this sort of management requires that the managers take an active part in the budgetary process.

They need to be well informed about the factual questions and have all concerning facts and details.

Performance evaluation

The budget functions as a control system for performance evaluation. By setting budget targets the accountable are held responsible for reaching the objectives. Through a follow up of the budget, which means when the budget is being compared with the actual outcome, managers can be evaluated.

When follow-ups are made it is possible to discover variations from plan. Focusing and putting effort into deviations from plan is called "management by exception". By investigating the reasons to why the variations occur, actions can be taken. When budgets are made for shorter periods than a year, it can be valuable to make follow-ups every month and this enables changes if the actual outcomes vary from plan.

Hence, this requires that the original budgets are distributed correctly over the year and that managers have made an effort to make budgets as realistic as possible for every month. Analyzing the budget every year and examine if there are any large variations can facilitate to more usable budgets in the future.

Responsibility distribution

Budgets are often used for distribution of responsibility. A study proved that using a budget for distributing accountability is more important than using it as a control tool.

During the budget process, responsibility is assigned to employees and it is vital that the managers clarify what is expected from the employees. A follow-up is being made to guarantee that the managers/employees have lived up to their commitment. It is a mutual commitment between the company and the accountable.

The company contributes with the resources needed and the accountable are responsible for doing what they said they would do. Further, the budget is a tool to make managers responsible for their actions and to work in the best interest of the organization.

Establishing objectives

In organizations the budget is used for setting targets for managers. It is common that managers receive a bonus if they are able to "stick to the budget" and reach the goals. The objectives indicate what is important in the organization and what it is trying to achieve. Different targets for each unit within the organization are aimed to show what is expected of them.

The objectives for the organization are being divided into goals for every department. When setting a budget for a decentralized organization it is a prerequisite that the main budget is divided into budgets for every unit. Drury (2004) states that there are three different kinds of targets for an organization: mission, corporate objectives and unit objectives.

The mission of an organization is the reason to why the company exists; it describes in general terms, which the customers are, and what the concept of the company is. Corporate objectives are specific goals for an organization and the board of directors often establish them, e.g. return on equity, market share etc.

Unit objectives are the goals for the units in the company. While corporate objectives are seen as goals for the organization as a whole, unit objectives are made for different parts of the organization.


Budgets are used as a motivation tool. When employees are involved in the budget and target setting-process, they are often more motivated to try to achieve the goals. By setting clear and defined targets based on the budget, employees understand what is expected of them and can therefore feel more motivated. Though, this requires that targets are set on an appropriate level and that they are challenging but realistic. Meanwhile, if the targets are too difficult to achieve they could instead be de-motivating.

The main purposes stated above are complemented with two purposes by Ax et al (2009):


The budget creates awareness about the organizations goals and to make workers understand the "big picture". Personnel can understand how their work is contributing to the organization as a whole instead of just seeing their own unit (Ax et al, 2009).


Commonly, organizations use the budget as an incitement for the employees. The budget becomes a benchmark for what is a sufficient level to reach. By comparing the budget with the actual outcome, a reward for the accountable can be made (Ax et al, 2009).

Budgeting is a time-consuming and costly job. The development of a budget includes many repetitive steps before the budget is finally approved. As an example, participative budgeting (which is supposed to be a better model) involves managers at all levels (and sometimes all of the employees) developing their own initial estimates for sales, costs, etc. This process requires lots of negotiations between managers at different levels until a budget evolves which is acceptable to all levels (Langfield-Smith, Thorne & Hilton, 2006).

Bartrum (2006) cites the Hackett Group's research to demonstrate that even the most efficient companies take 79 days to plan their budgets, while the worst take 210 days to complete the whole process.

The Ford Motor Company has calculated that they spent $1.2 billion annually for budgeting (BBRT, 2006). This is because it involves many people in the organization and absorbs up to 20-30 percent of top executives' and financial managers' time.

Steps in preparing a budget

According to Bragg (Bragg, 2011) these are the steps that should be done in order to prepare an efficient budget:

Update budget assumptions.  Review the assumptions about the company's business environment that were used as the basis for the last budget, and update as necessary.

Review bottlenecks. Determine the capacity level of the primary bottleneck that is constraining the company from generating further sales, and define how this will impact any additional company revenue growth.

Available funding. Determine the most likely amount of funding that will be available during the budget period, which may limit growth plans.

Step costing points. Determine whether any step costs will be incurred during the likely range of business activity in the upcoming budget period, and define the amount of these costs and at what activity levels they will be incurred.

Create budget package. Copy forward the basic budgeting instructions from the instruction packet used in the preceding year. Update it by including the year-to-date actual expenses incurred in the current year, and also annualize this information for the full current year. Add a commentary to the packet, stating step costing information, bottlenecks, and expected funding limitations for the upcoming budget year.

Issue budget package. Issue the budget package personally, where possible, and answer any questions from recipients. Also state the due date for the first draft of the budget package.

Obtain revenue forecast. Obtain the revenue forecast from the sales manager, validate it with the CEO, and then distribute it to the other department managers. They use the revenue information as the basis for developing their own budgets.

Obtain department budgets. Obtain the budgets from all departments, check for errors, and compare to the bottleneck, funding, and step costing constraints. Adjust the budgets as necessary.

Obtain capital budget requests. Validate all capital budget requests and forward them to the senior management team with comments and recommendations.

Update the budget model. Input all budget information into the master budget model.

Review the budget. Meet with the senior management team to review the budget. Highlight possible constraint issues, and any limitations caused by funding limitations. Note all comments made by the management team, and forward this information back to the budget originators, with requests to modify their budgets.

Process budget iterations. Track outstanding budget change requests, and update the budget model with new iterations as they arrive.

Issue the budget. Create a bound version of the budget and distribute it to all authorized recipients.

Load the budget. Load the budget information into the financial software, so that you can generate budget versus actual reports.

Budget Arguments

Hope and Fraser (1997) argue that with the big changes in the business world, intellectual assets accounting for 80-90% of market capitalization. While many companies recognize that the underlying source of future cash flows increasingly comes from the effective management of intellectual assets, it is beyond the capability of budgets to properly account for these intellectual assets.

In other words, only 10-20% of a company's value can be analyzed by its budget. Banks in Scandinavia using budgets have an average 70% of cost/income ratio. In contrast, Svenska Handelsbanken, which does not utilize budgeting, has a 45% cost/income ratio (Hope & Fraser, 1997).

This shows that budgets add little or no value to shareholders' assets. Budgets are rigid, restricted and fixed to artificial period. The budget period can be too long to adapt today's dynamic and quickly changing market; conversely, the fiscal year may be a too short-term horizon for planning and steering some major activities of today's companies, like R&D, brand development or growing business relationships between partners and potential customers. So budgets can restrict or hinder business and organizational development in the long run while adding little, if any, value to the business.

How do budget enhances control?

Owing to the adverse consequences of violating budgetary mandates, both governments and not-for-profits can build safeguards into their accounting systems that help assure budgetary compliance. These include preparing journal entries both to record the bud- get and to give recognition to goods and services that have been ordered but not yet re- ceived. We begin the discussion by describing the basic books of account maintained by governments and not-for-profits and showing how they accommodate these safeguards.

The basic books of account of both governments and not-for-profits correspond to those of businesses. They consist, either in manual or electronic form, of:

Journals, in which journal entries are recorded. Most transactions are entered initially in a special journal, such as a property tax cash receipts journal, a park- ing fines cash receipts journal, a purchases journal, or a cash disbursements journal. Both nonroutine transactions and account totals from special journals are recorded in a general journal.

Ledgers, in which all balance sheet and operating accounts are maintained. The general ledger consists of control accounts that summarize the balances of the detailed subsidiary accounts that are maintained in subsidiary ledgers.

Key phases of budget cycle

Budgeting practices in neither governments nor not-for-profits are standardized; they differ from entity to entity. However, irrespective of whether the budget is of object classification or performance type, in most organizations budgeting is a con- tinuous, four-phase process:


Legislative adoption and executive approval


Reporting and auditing

Budgetary Control

The budgetary control states:

The identification of controlled and non-controlled items

On the issue of the hierarchy of control

The effectiveness and impact of control

The importance of deviations and limits of control

The positive and negative aspects of Budgeting Control

Controlled and non-controlled items

The budgetary control requires:

The separation of spending controlled (elastic) and uncontrolled (inelastic) costs.

The separation of business centers or areas of responsibility.

Should endeavor to increase the controllable costs, otherwise we will end up in bureaucratic administration, which is remote from the centers of expenditure and therefore not aware of the real needs.

Hierarchy Of Control

Mainly, the content of feedback at different levels of government. The information about the result of the modulated according to the level of responsibility and authority in which the auditee is under budget.

Each officer is informed of the outcome of its area of ​​responsibility and the lower. The separate and detailed information moves from the lower to the upper levels of government increasingly centralized and ensures the project evaluation in upper and central government on the state of the business.

Effectiveness Of Control

The effectiveness of control depends mainly

The acceptability of the budget of those who would have to implement.

The degree of power in relation to the responsibility assigned to each level of the hierarchy.

The responsibility must go hand in hand with responsibilities.

Easy flow and completeness of information. The budgetary control is simple, understandable, and documents the findings.

Signifocance Of Gaps

A deviation is significant when leading the administration to take corrective measures. Defining the boundaries of permissible differences are either statistically or empirically.

Deviations must answer the following questions:

Where are due

The factors that cause is accidental or not

They could provide

Positive and negative elements

The budget establishes quantitative and temporal action programs

The budget control gives specific content to power and responsibility of management.

The budgetary control system is an information and coordination activities.

The budgetary control minimizes time detection of errors and accelerates the process of solving.

There is also the possibility that the budget will cause problems in effective business and human relationships, based on faulty projections imposed by authoritarian no overall premise of objectives and a means of policing rather than encouragement of people in taking the right initiatives.

Setting The Target

The budget is based on normal and not standard. Serve short-term goals but must be aligned with a long-term strategic goal. When you enter this strategic objective all directions and plans of action programs seek to achieve.

Such strategic objectives are:

Increase market share

Reduction of production costs

Increase Profit

Increasing Competitiveness

Goal setting is necessary because:

Establishes a disciplined approach to solving problems

Enters single mindset in business

Coordinates the implementation of programs and budgets

Important Facts

The design can be long and short term.

The strategic goal is not structured problem but a vision.

The long design gives directions leading to vision.

Long-term programs covering a period of 3-5 years and up to 10 years.

The programs cover a short period of 6 months to 1 year.

The short programs are characterized by clarity, accuracy and detail items not characterize long.

It should however be noted that the

Budget Organizational Integration

Management Board

Budget Board

General Management

Financial Management

Budget Department

Budget Development Cycle

Budget Department

Sector Manager

Budget Department

Budget Department

Budget Board

Budget Department


Update fellows each action area with Instructions.

Directions and Schedule are given.

Prpares Budget for his /her sector.

In meeting the General Manager under the charge of each sector presents the budget of each sector.

Delivered by individual budgets to the Head of the Department of Budget.

The Head of Budget prepares the general budget of the Company.

Presented the General Budget Plan.



Updated every sector for their final-TARGET

The Problem

Despite the massive use of budget around the world, budget is not yet the best tool of controlling and forecasting. (Hansen et al., 2003)

There are many cases where budget calculation digressed the first predictions of the financial departments of the companies. This can lead to unexpected financial results, causing damages to the company that occasionally may need much time to be fixed.

The worst scenario is the default of the company who has failed to conduct a realistic budget. Especially in Greece, due to the sudden financial crisis that hit the country in 2010, companies must feel safe and financially protected. The correct budget prediction offers these two feelings.

What is missing from many budget calculation systems is the factor of an unexpected event that may have impact on the financial results of the company (e.g. financial crisis) but this is something that has been accepted because we can't predict the future. Many companies have the principle of " same weather tomorrow as today" (Wallander, 1999), but it is obvious that this can lead to terrible budget mistakes.

A big drawback of the companies around the globe is that they try through their budget to be competitive and show their power (sometimes with tricky means), instead of setting short-term budget targets for their own use and not for the competitors (Fraser & Hope, 2003).

But there are other important factors that many budgeters don't take into consideration such as the general trends and requirements of every period. For example when the European Central Bank predicts a recession of 4% for the following year, that budget that is going to be created for the next year should convert that information and include it into the budgeting model.

The last but not least factor is the seasonality of the company. Not every company sells the same amount of products every month of the year. So what must be taken under serious consideration is the seasonality percentage of each company.

The Problem of Budgeting

Compared with its costs, budgeting provides little valuable, reliable and relevant information. In the main, budgets are based on assumptions that often turn out to be inaccurate. Budgets are generally backward-looking and inward-oriented instead of being market-oriented; therefore, they inevitably provide irrelevant and unreliable data to the users.

In addition, lack of enough time to analyze data, maintaining consistency and obtaining data to analyze the budgeting figures, also explain some of the problems (Abrams, 1982). One 1999 global best practices study shows that only 21% of finance staff time was spent on analyzing the budgeting numbers while 79% of their time was spent on valueless activities (BBRT, 2006). This can explain some of the reasons why low value, unreliable, sometimes almost useless information is submitted to the management.

A recent report by Neely et al. (2001), drawn primarily from the practitioner literature, lists the 12 most cited weaknesses (Hansen, Otley, and Van der Stede, 2003) of budgetary control as:

Budgets are time-consuming to put together;

Budgets constrain responsiveness and are often a barrier to change;

Budgets are rarely strategically focused and often contradictory;

Budgets add little value, especially given the time required to prepare them;

Budgets concentrate on cost reduction and not value creation;

Budgets strengthen vertical command-and-control;

Budgets do not reflect the emerging network structures that organizations are 

Budgets encourage gaming and perverse behaviors;

Budgets are developed and updated too infrequently, usually annually;

Budgets are based on unsupported assumptions and guesswork;

Budgets reinforce departmental barriers rather than encourage knowledge sharing; 

Budgets make people feel undervalued.

Practice Developments In Budgeting

It is upon every company to decide which budgeting approach it will choose. The two big budgeting development groups are ABB (The Activity-Based Budgeting Approach) and BB (The Beyond Budgeting Approach).

The Activity-Based Budgeting Approach

As its name implies, the ABB-approach7 focuses on generating a budget from an activity-based model of the organization, as opposed to the traditional product-market, responsibility center, or departmental focus.

The Beyond Budgeting Approach

In his seminal management control framework, Anthony (1965) distinguished management control, of which budgeting is a critical element, from two complementary control processes: operational and strategic planning.

Budgeting And Forecasting Process

Undoubtedly the expectations from corporate strategic planning have increased as a result of the changing competitive landscape and the availability of new technology. But even though companies are now spending more time than ever creating more detailed and more frequent budgets and forecasts, we are still in the early stages of advanced corporate planning. Most companies are still not happy with the planning processes they have in place and the results they see. Some often cited complaints and concerns are:

Lack of employee motivation and initiative during the planning process

Lack of clearly defined strategies to drive planning and forecasting efforts

Minimal correlation between corporate strategy and operational plans

Politics, rather than strategy, influencing the planning process

There is little doubt that every company has room for improvement. However, the improvements must start within the organizations themselves, with a re-engineering of the planning process. Unless the organizational issues are addressed, the planning and budgeting process will not be as effective nor as useful as it needs to be.

According to leading management consultants, certain key issues should be addressed in order to streamline the planning process:

The amount of planning data should be limited.

The type of planning data produced should be standardized.

Data should be shared across the organization, in real time.

Employee compensation should be tied to strategic plans.

As companies continue to redefine their budgeting and forecasting processes, several key trends have begun to emerge: 

Tighter integration of corporate strategy with budgeting

Added detail in strategically important areas (such as revenue)

More complex models

Improved accuracy of budgets and forecasts

Integration of available resources and tools

More frequent revisions (re-forecasts and rolling forecasts)

Increased employee participation and departmental involvement

Streamlined budget reviews and approvals

Trends And Seasonality

Trend Component

This component is characterized by long-run increase or decrease over time (overall upward or downward movement), which data are taken over a long period of time. Trend can be moving in many directions and ways like upward or downward and linear or nonlinear such as exponential growth.

Macintosh HD:Users:giorgosvlachos:Desktop:Trend Component.png

Seasonal Component

It is characterized by short-term regular wave-like patterns. It should be observed within 1 year and often monthly or quarterly.

Macintosh HD:Users:giorgosvlachos:Desktop:Seasonal Component.png

Trend and Seasonality Model

In order to isolate the non-deterministic behavior, it is common to first remove the trend and seasonality from a the data.

There exists a wide body of literature on trend and seasonality estimation for equally-spaced time series data, see Cleveland et al. (1990), Chapter 1 in Brockwell and Davis (1991), Chapter 9 in Box et al. (2004).

The simplest (and oldest) model for time series is the so-called component model:

yt = Ï„t + st + ut

where τ is a deterministic trend, s : [0, d) → R is a deterministic seasonality of period d with normalization ∫t0t0+d stdt = 0 for all t0 ∈ R, and Y is the realization of a stationary stochastic process with mean zero.


Ï„t the trend component (capturing the long-run tendency, like in population growth), e.g.

τt =c0 +c1t+...+crtr,

st the seasonal component (capturing cyclical components related to the season of the year, like Christmas sales bursts), e.g.

st =β1d1,t +...+βSdS,t


ds,t a seasonal dummy and
• ut the irregular component (basically everything else; not quite foreseeable events).

Trend Detection

How is it possible someone to determine whether there exists a trend in a given time series? This problem is usually referred to as trend detection and solved by different means of statistical tests, which require specification of a trend model.

One of the most extensively studies is the detection of monotonic trends. One of the widespread tests for this problem is the non-parametric Mann-Kendall test and its modifications for handling seasonality (Hirsch & Slack, 1984) and autocorrelated data (Hamed & Rao, 1998).

Among others are: the parametric t-test and the nonparametric Mann-Whitney and Spearman tests. Berryman et al. (1988) describes many methods for monotonic trend detection and provides a selection algorithm for them. For more recent developments see the review of Esterby (1996), which is focused on hydrological applications; also see the comparative study Yue & Pilon (2004), which describes some bootstrap-based tests.

Seasonality Adjustment

Annual budgets are not very useful as a tool because they make it difficult to monitor actual versus budget results throughout the year. The worst approach is to simply divide an annual budget by 12, because many line items are subject to seasonality. For example, actual revenue may be twice as high in some months compared to other months, but comparing these seasonal sales amounts to a non-seasonal budget is virtually meaningless because you can't tell whether you are on target, off target, or by how much. Therefore, it is difficult to determine if corrective measures are needed on a month-to-month basis.

Seasonal budgets make a big difference. I believe one of the primary reasons companies don't analyze their budgets to actuals throughout the year is because their budgets weren't seasonal to begin with, and therefore the comparison was virtually meaningless. Starting by calculating the percentage of a given line item's expense that occurs on a month-to-month basis. If the answers each year consistently shows percentages significantly below or above 8.33% for a given month, then, this was a detection of a seasonal lump or dip in the budget and the percentage to use in predicting that same lump or dip next year.