What is a flexible budget variance?

However, the variable standard cost per unit is the same per unit for each level of production, but the total variable costs will change. Flexible budget is budget typically in the form of an income statement that is adjustable to any level of activity such as units produced or units sold. In a simple flexible budget, fixed costs stay constant whereas variable and semi-variable costs change according to a standard predetermined at the beginning of an accounting period.

  • Note that at different levels of production, total fixed costs are the same, so the standard fixed cost per unit will change for each production level.
  • Another way of thinking of a flexible budget is a number of static budgets.
  • Thus, if sales differ from what is budgeted, then comparing actual costs to budgeted costs may not provide a clear indicator of how well the company is meeting its targets.
  • The difference between the two functions and their use can be found here.
  • If you have higher actual costs or lower revenue than expected, then you have unfavorable variance.
  • Now, because you’re using a flexible budget, this additional cost is already anticipated in the budget, so you’re good from that perspective.

Significant unfavorable variances may indicate a need for operational changes or cost reductions. Big Bad Bikes used the flexible budget concept to develop a budget based on its expectation that production levels will vary by quarter. By the fourth quarter, sales are expected to be strong enough to pay back the financing from earlier in the year.


Then, on top of that, you layer a flexible budget system that allows for variable costs, which are likely to fluctuate based on sales performance (sales team commission, for instance). However, if you’re looking to improve the accuracy of your budgets and financial forecasts, then you’ll want to engage in a practice known as budget variance analysis. In this, one prepares different budgets for varied activity levels. Among all, the one closer to the actual activity is to be considered. After that, one needs to analyze the performance and cost analysis by comparing both. This could be for many reasons, and the production supervisor would need to determine where the variable cost difference is occurring to make production changes.

Now, because you’re using a flexible budget, this additional cost is already anticipated in the budget, so you’re good from that perspective. But you probably still want to know why the hosting cost went up and whether you need to make adujstments. Variance analysis is essentially digging into the causes behind differences between budgets and actual spending. It analyses the costs with respect to the variations in the output levels. Consequently, the categorization of cost takes place under Fixed, Variable and Semi-variable. The flexible budget supersedes the limitations of a fixed budget.

How do you explain actual vs budget variance?

A flexible budget on the other hand would allow management to adjust their expectations in the budget for both changes in costs and revenue that would occur from the loss of the potential client. The changes made in the flexible budget would then be compared to what actually occurs to result in more realistic and representative variance. This ability to change the budget also makes it easier to pinpoint who is responsible if a revenue or cost target is missed. To determine the overhead standard cost, companies prepare a flexible budget that gives estimated revenues and costs at varying levels of production. The standard overhead cost is usually expressed as the sum of its component parts, fixed and variable costs per unit. Note that at different levels of production, total fixed costs are the same, so the standard fixed cost per unit will change for each production level.

Managerial Accounting

For instance if the business period covers three months, the static budget is created before the period begins to cover the three months of operation. A business normally produces 1,000 units over a three-month period, they would use 1,000 units as the basis for their static budget calculation. For Example, A company has prepared a flexible budget and expects an output of 500 units.

In the example above, the company has set a target of 85% production capacity. The budgeted or planned sales volume of 212,500 units yields a $740,625 profit. As variables change over time, for instance, variations in raw material prices, clearing house meaning the flexible budget is able to consider these changes, make adjustments and compare them with actual results. The flexible budgeting approach helps to narrow the gap between actual results and standards due to activity level changes.

Tools for Budget Variance Analysis

If actual costs are lower than budgeted costs, it is called a favorable variance. Analyzing budget variances is an important part of financial management and control. It helps businesses identify the reasons behind budget misses, take corrective actions, and improve future budgeting and forecasting.


Ultimately, your budget is made up of guesses about what will happen in the future. That means there’s bound to be some difference between your budget and actual performance. If you have a high budget variance, that means you’re using less accurate information to make strategic choices.

It is likely that the amounts determined for standard overhead costs will differ from what actually occurs. While most corporate finance professionals are proficient in excel, this article will outline some of the more common budget variance formulas. Use this as a guide to help you build a flexible budget variance analysis in excel. The next step is to combine the variable and fixed costs in order to prepare a new overhead budget report, inserting the new flexible budget results into the overhead budget report. Some costs are variable — they change in response to activity levels — while other costs are fixed and remain the same.

In the most recent month, 800 units are sold and the actual price per unit sold is $102. This means there is a favorable flexible budget variance related to revenue of $1,600 (calculated as 800 units x $2 per unit). In addition, the model contains an assumption that the cost of goods sold per unit will be $45.

But if, on the other hand, the increase was a result of a price hike, you might decide to look at alternative options or renegotiate your rates. Pretty good thing (the assumption being that they’ve upgraded their subscription or added more users), so you’re probably fine with the larger expenses. Let’s say your cloud hosting expense increased because several of your smaller customers grew exponentially and are now storing more data in your platform. Imagine that you budgeted $20,000 annually for cloud hosting services.

In other words, comparing the $60,000 actual cost of making 125,000 units to the $50,000 budgeted cost of making just 100,000 units makes no sense. Total net income changes as the amount for each line on the income statement changes. The net variance in this example is mainly due to lower revenues.