What is a Budget Comparison Report?

Budget comparison reports are considered budget analysis tools and are used by budget managers to provide executives with a clear picture of variances between the current and next year’s budget. Some of the main functionality in this type of budget report is that it it shows the differences between two annual budgets and displays these both as amounts and in percent. The general ledger (GL) accounts are listed down the rows with funds as the most detailed level. The report can be produced at the detailed department level or consolidated to a school or university level. You find an example of this type of budget report below.

Purpose of Budget Comparison Reports

Universities and colleges use Budget Comparison Reports to make it easy for executives to see where the major changes are in the current budget versus that of the prior year. When used as part of good business practices in a Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) department, a higher education institution can improve its budget accuracy, and it can reduce the chances that the major budget changes are approved without proper scrutiny.

Budget Comparison Report Example

Here is an example of a Budget Variance Report comparing the new budget with prior year’s budget.

Higher Education Report Example - Comparison Between Current Year and Next Year Budgets

Higher Education Report Example – Comparison Between Current Year and Next Year Budgets

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Budget report?

The typical users of this type of budget report are: Executives, budget officers, department managers.

Other Budget reports Often Used in Conjunction with Budget Comparison Reports

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Budget Variance Reports, along with  budget accuracy reports, budget comment reports, budget dashboards, transaction detail budget reports and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples