What is a flexible budget?

flexible budgeting definition

Consequently, the flex budget tends to include only a small number of step costs, as well as variable costs whose fixed cost components are not fully recognized. Creating a flexible budget begins with assigning all static costs a fixed monthly value, and then determining the percentage of revenue to assign to your variable costs. A flexible budget is an adjustable budget that companies create for different levels of activity, i.e., different output levels, revenues, or expenses for a single budgeting period.

flexible budgeting definition

Static budgets may be more effective for organizations that have highly predictable sales and costs, and for shorter-term periods. The budget shown in Figure 10.27 illustrates the payment of interest and contains information helpful to management when determining which items should be produced if production capacity is limited. If, however, the cost was identified as a fixed cost, no changes are made in the budgeted amount when the flexible budget is prepared. Differences may occur in fixed expenses, but they are not related to changes in activity within the relevant range. A flexible budget is a budget containing figures based on actual output. The flexible budget is compared to the company’s static budget to identify any variances (or differences) between the forecasted spending and the actual spending.

What Businesses Need a Master Budget?

Not every line item or set of line items has a strong enough correlation to others for flexible budgeting to work. Choosing the wrong pieces of the budget to tie together can lead to significant inaccuracies in forecasts. The difference between a flexible budget and a static budget is that static budgets deal with fixed budget amounts that don’t vary as other line items increase and decrease. For SaaS companies, flexible budgeting relates more to the cost of revenue — the actual costs for creating and delivering a product/service to customers. The cost of revenue involves hosting fees, service and cloud fees, and website development. And because flexible budgets expand and contract in real time, they allow businesses to exist as the organic, growing entities that they are.

Revenue is still calculated at month end so costs cannot be retroactively adjusted. Once you identify fixed and variable costs, separate them on your budget sheet. One problem with its formulation is that many costs are not fully variable, instead having a fixed cost component that must be calculated and included in the budget formula. Also, a great deal of time https://quickbooks-payroll.org/how-to-account-for-grant-in-nonprofit-accounting/ can be spent developing cost formulas, which is more time than the typical budgeting staff has available in the midst of the budget process. The last step of developing a master budget uses the components you have compiled to create a budgeted balance sheet. The budgeted balance sheet predicts the final effect of costs and sales on the company’s balance sheet.


In short, a flexible budget gives a company a tool for comparing actual to budgeted performance at many levels of activity. This is the simplest and most common budget for small businesses or for quick, high-level analysis. It typically adjusts the budgeted figures for one or a few key variables, such as sales volume or production levels. For costs that vary with volume or activity, the flexible budget will flex because the budget will include a variable rate per unit of activity instead of one fixed total amount. In short, the flexible budget is a more useful tool when measuring a manager’s efficiency.

  • To account for actual sales and expenses differing from budgeted sales and expenses, companies will often create flexible budgets to allow budgets to fluctuate with future demand.
  • Some companies have so few variable costs of any kind that there is little point in constructing a flexible budget.
  • Layered on top of that is a flexible budget system allowing for variable costs to fluctuate based on sales performance.
  • The sales budget is not usually the same as the sales forecast but is adjusted based on managerial judgment and other data.
  • Most flexible budgets use a percentage of projected revenue to account for variable costs.

Flexible budgets are best used for startups that have a number of variables such as manufacturing, and others that have revenue based on seasonality, as costs are directly impacted by demand. Flexible budgets are dynamic systems which allow for expansion and contraction in real time. They take into account that a business is an organic, growing system and that life is not predictable.

How Budgeting Works for Companies

Insufficient historical data or unreliable forecasts can compromise the budget’s reliability. Obtaining and maintaining accurate data can be arduous, particularly in dynamic business environments. Additionally, the increased administrative burden of monitoring, data collection, and adjustments may impact finance and accounting teams. Secondly, a flexible budget aids in scenario planning and decision-making by enabling companies to assess the financial impact of changing business conditions. Through the ability to adjust the budget to reflect various scenarios, organizations can evaluate potential outcomes and make informed strategic choices. This capability empowers management to anticipate the financial implications of alternative courses of action.

flexible budgeting definition

However, a flexible budget allows managers to assign a percentage of sales in calculating the sales commissions. The management might assign a 7% commission for the total sales volume generated. Although with the flexible budget, costs would rise as sales commissions increased, so too would revenue from the additional sales generated.

Best Practices of Flexible Budgeters

However, when compared to the actual results that are received after the fact, the numbers from static budgets can be quite different from the actual results. Static budgets are used by accountants, finance professionals, and the management teams of companies looking to gauge the financial performance of a company over time. Most flexible budgets use a percentage of projected revenue to account for variable costs rather than assigning Nonprofit Accounting: A Guide to Basics and Best Practices a rigid numerical value at the start. A flexible budget is an adaptable financial planning tool that allows companies to adjust projected expenses and revenues in response to changes in activity levels or other relevant factors. Unlike a static budget that remains fixed, a flexible budget offers the ability to reflect different levels of business activity, providing a more accurate representation of expected financial outcomes.

flexible budgeting definition

This budget assigns a value to every unit of product produced based on raw materials, direct labor, and overhead. A master budget includes all of the lower-level budgets within an organization. It gives a firm a broad overview of its finances and is often used as a central planning tool. The company also knows that the depreciation, supervision, and other fixed costs come to about $35,000 per month. A flexible budget is a budget or financial plan that varies according to the company’s needs.