A budget is a comprehensive, formal plan that estimates the probable expenditures and income for an organization over a specific period. Budgeting describes the overall process of preparing and using a budget. Since budgets are such valuable tools for planning and control of finances, budgeting affects nearly every type of organization from governments and large corporations to small businesses. A small business generally engages in budgeting to determine the most efficient and effective strategies for making money and expanding its asset base. Budgeting can help a company use its limited financial and human resources in a manner which best exploits existing business opportunities
The process of creating a budget takes management away from its short-term, day-to-day management of the business and forces it to think longer-term. This is the chief goal of budgeting, even if management does not succeed in meeting its goals as outlined in the budget - at least it is thinking about the company's competitive and financial position and how to improve it.
It is easy to lose sight of where a company is making most of its money, during the scramble of day-to-day management. A properly structured budget points out what aspects of the business produce money and which ones use it, which forces management to consider whether it should drop some parts of the business, or expand in others.
The budgeting process forces management to think about why the company is in business, as well as its key assumptions about its business environment. A periodic re-evaluation of these issues may result in altered assumptions, which may in turn alter the way in which managements decides to operate the business.
You can work with employees to set up their goals for a budgeting period, and possibly also tie bonuses or other incentives to how they perform. You can then create budget versus actual reports to give employees feedback regarding how they are progressing toward their goals. This approach is most common with financial goals, though operational goals (such as reducing the product rework rate) can also be added to the budget for performance appraisal purposes. This system of evaluation is called responsibility accounting.
A properly structured budget should derive the amount of cash that will be spun off or which will be needed to support operations. This information is used by the treasurer to plan for the company's funding needs.
There is only a limited amount of cash available to invest in fixed assets and working capital, and the budgeting process forces management to decide which assets are most worth investing in.
Nearly every company has a bottleneck somewhere, and the budgeting process can be used to concentrate on what can be done to either expand the capacity of that bottleneck or to shift work around it.
It can be very time-consuming to create a budget, especially in a poorly-organized environment where many iterations of the budget may be required. The time involved is lower if there is a well-designed budgeting procedure in place, employees are accustomed to the process, and the company uses budgeting software. The time requirement can be unusually large if there is a participative budgeting process in place, since such a system involves an unusually large number of employees.
Gaming the system.
An experienced manager may attempt to introduce budgetary slack, which involves deliberately reducing revenue estimates and increasing expense estimates, so that he can easily achieve favorable variances against the budget. This can be a serious problem, and requires considerable oversight to spot and eliminate.
Blame for outcomes....