The budgeting process is a crucial component of management control systems (Accaglobal, 2017). Furthermore, Drury (2001: 283-284) added that budgets covers some purposes such as planning annual operations, coordinating the activities of the various parts of the organization, communicating plans to the various responsibility center managers, motivating managers to strive to achieve the organizational goals, controlling activities and evaluating the performance of managers.
To support Alderley Ltd for building their budgets because their accountant has suddenly resigned, I am assigned to provide the functional budgets for the forthcoming financial quarter which is different compared to the traditional incremental budgeting that the previous company accountant has historically used.
According to McKinney and Howard (1998: 365), traditional incremental budgeting is a budgeting approach that permits policy to continue indefinitely without scrutiny, which means the past becomes the present and future becomes the projection of the present, and it tells how much company spends and what it buys but not why. Further explanation was continued by Aicher, Paule-Koba and Newland (2016: 72) that incremental budgeting has benefits, for examples:
- it has the same impact on programs and projects across the budget,
- it is quick and easy,
- the budget remains stable from year to year.
Nevertheless, they also added that this approach has also disadvantages, as follows:
- it does not allow for a thorough examination of expenses to determine the extent to which they are in alignment with the company’s strategic goals,
- there is pressure for managers to spend any money that is currently allocated, if they see that their future budget will be based on the current year.
While functional budgets represent quantitative and/or financial statements which are prepared prior by each functional area of the business to begin of a trading or operating period and they are applied to arrange the company’s objectives, activities as well as policies for the entire business (Bendrey, Hussey and West, 2003: 68).
Moreover, according to Kumar and Sharma (2000: 206), functional budgets represents various functions and depends on the size and nature of the business. They include sales budget, production budget (e.g.: raw material budget, labour budget, plant utilization budget), purchase budget, cash budget and finance budget.
Generally speaking, budgets are prepared for a specified time period. It can be a year, quarters, months or in some cases, weeks. Bendrey, Hussey and West (2003: 68) argued that the longer the period taken for planning purposes, the greater the difficulty in forecasting future performance. In this assignment, I am tasked to prepare functional budgets for the forthcoming financial quarter, January to March, see table 1 below.
To assess whether or not estimated investment of company would be generating benefits for forthcoming quarter, we are able to compute its Return on Investment (ROI) from January till March. ROI can be generated by dividing company’s profit from sales with company’s investment which is assets. In our case, our assets included the total 3-months budget for Raw Materials (£192,818), Labour (£381,600), Production Overheads (£104,940), Administration (£31,216) and Selling Overheads (£26,200). While our estimated revenue from sales from January till March is £327,500.
As a result, the ROI of this company would be about 45% so that it can be concluded that a positive percentage of ROI would be generating profits for this company. According to George and Franklin (1996: 5-6), ROI is a method to assess how well (or poorly) management performs and used by creditors and owners to assess the company’s ability to earn an adequate rate of return. Furthermore, managing directors can compare the ROI of this company to other companies/industries, because ROI provides financial information about a company’s financial health.
All these above described functional budgets had been through important stages in the budgeting process according to Drury (2001: 287-290), as follows:
- communicating details of budget policy and guidelines to those people responsible for the preparation of budgets;
- determining the factor that restricts output;
- preparation of the sales budget which is here important to have an accurate estimation of customers’ actions and to understand sales demand that might be influenced by the economic situation or the action of company’s competitors;
- initial preparation of different budgets (e.g.: Production, Raw Materials, Labour, Production Overheads, Administration, and Selling Overheads) which its preparation should be a “bottom-up” process and past data may be used as the starting point for producing the budgets;
- negotiation of budgets with superiors after being approved by the lowest level of management;
- coordination and review of budgets whether or not it is plausible and measurable;
- final acceptance of budgets which happens when all the budgets are in harmony with each other and they are summarized into a master budget that includes a budgeted profit and loss account, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement;
- ongoing review of budgets is conducted as the final stage and here, the actual results should be periodically compared with the budgeted results. Moreover, in this final stage, the management should be able to identify the items that are not proceeding according to plan and to investigate the reasons for the differences.
Drury (2001: 291) also added that the budgetary process should be dynamic and continuous. In other words, it does not end for the current year once the budget has been generated.
From above description about budgeting process, we can also find some benefits, as follows:
- Budgeting process or budget preparation process would help company to plan future activities;
- it helps in coordination of various activities (e.g.: Sales and Production)
- it helps to communicate between the lowest level of management to the top level of management regarding the expected level of activities, costs, revenues, profits, investments, etc. to the budget period.
- it might become a motivational tool for everyone to put maximum efforts to realize the targets set in the budgets.
- it allows the management continuously to monitor all activities have done to see whether or not everything goes as planned in budget.
In spite of several benefits, budget preparation process could be giving some disadvantages, for examples:
- it would be costly for small firms to incur, because it requires a lot of time in decision making and in coordination between the lowest level of management and the top level of management.
- Furthermore, a small company probably needs to spend extra money to hire experienced and specialized human resources in the field of management, analysis, and control.
According to Daum (2005), Nowadays, in the highly dynamic environment for companies, the concept of fixed budgets should be changed with the concept of Beyond Budgeting Management Model in order to become effective in a global economy with rapidly shifting market conditions and fast and nimble competitors because companies must be able to adapt constantly their priorities and have to aim their resources where they are able to bring most value for customers and shareholders. Moreover, Daum (2001) argued that an increase of complexity of company activities and internal dynamics occur so that the task of today’s companies is not only to produce and sell products, but also companies have to compete in a seller’ market and buyer’s market. In other words, they must keep bringing new products, keep doing very different things at the same thing with developing the right products (in the long-term), keep having good relationships with customers, employees, and business partners (medium-term), and keep operating their business profitably (short-term).
As we have known, the traditional incremental budgeting which does not cover all those aspects seems like inflexible and focusing only in company’s profit without seeing other aspects. Daum (2005) mentioned that Beyond Budgeting represents a management model that wants to overcome the restrictions of the traditional budget and aims to increase the adaptability of companies. Furthermore, Charifzadeh and Taschner (2017: 151) added that Beyond Budgeting is also a concept which postulates the complete elimination of traditional budgets, and instead recommends a flexible system of planning and control based on employee empowerment and market-like coordination.
Beyond Budgeting has several characteristics according to Kaplan Financial Knowledge Bank (2012), as follows:
- Rolling budgets, based on every quarter or every month, becomes the main alternative to annual budgeting;
- The rolling forecasts will embrace Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) based on the concept of balanced scorecards which is according to Kaplan and Norton (1996: 47) defined as concept that can tell the story of the company’s strategy, starting with the long-run financial objectives, and then linking them to the sequence of actions that must be taken with financial processes, customers, internal processes, and finally employees and systems to deliver the desired long-run economic performance;
- The budget may also incorporate benchmarking connecting managers’ targets to external benchmarks and not past performance;
- Focus efforts on managing future results and not explaining past performance;
- Allow operational managers to react to the environment;
- Encourage a culture of innovation.
According to bbrt.org (2016), a key element of Beyond Budgeting is alignment between leadership principles and management processes, as seen in figure 1 below, which is also explaining about the 12 beyond budgeting principles.
Kaplan Financial Knowledge Bank (2012) found some advantages of the beyond budgeting model, as follows:
- By giving clear responsibilities and challenges, it motivates individuals;
- It establishes customer-oriented teams;
- Its focus has changed from beating other managers to beating the competition;
- It establishes information systems which provide fast and open information throughout the Organisation;
- Authority is transferred to operational managers who are closer to the action so that they are able to react quickly;
- Operational managers are given more authority to deliver key ratios rather than keep to strict budget limits.
Nevertheless, companies which applied beyond budgeting should consider its consequence that a cohesion between leadership principles and management processes should be in harmony in order to avoid risk of having disconnects between what is said and what is done, which is able to be poison to any organization (bbrt.org, 2016).
To conclude this this essay, I would like to suggest John to consider the beyond budgeting approach which would be more appropriate and complete in the current turbulent economic environment where market conditions are rapidly shifting, and an emergence of nimble competitors is forcing his company to adapt constantly what customers and shareholders need. Beyond Budgeting offers what traditional incremental budgeting does not have and it refers to the concept of balanced scorecards which covers 4 perspectives (financial, customer, internal business process and employees). In other words, Beyond Budgeting is concentrated not only in producing and selling products, but also it concerns other perspectives (e.g.: customers, employees, business partners and shareholders) so that it would increase the adaptability of his company in the future.
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