What is a Monthly Profit & Loss Variance Report?

Profit & Loss (P&L) variance reports are considered essential monthly financial analysis tools and are most often used by financial managers to analyze revenues, expenses and profitability across the business. Some of the key functionality in this type of visual P&L report is that it is parameter driven and enhances analysis with its three different sections. On top of the report, the user can quickly analyze actual versus budget for Revenue, Gross Margin and Profit. The yellow row below the charts is an automatically generated sentence highlighting the current month’s performance. The main portion of the report is a modern P&L layout with variance analysis for current month, year-to-date (YTD) and last year. You find an example of this type of visual P&L report below.

Purpose of Monthly P&L Variance Reports

Companies and organizations use Monthly P&L Variance Reports to closely monitor revenues, expenses and profitability against stated goals as well as prior year. When used as part of good business practices in a Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) department, a company can improve its financial analysis capabilities as well as reduce the chances that poor variance insights leads to slow decision-making.

Monthly P&L Variance Report Example

Here is an example of a Monthly Profit & Loss Variance Report with charts and automated narrative.

Monthly Profit & Loss Variance Report Example

Monthly Profit & Loss Variance Report Example

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Who Uses This Type of Visual P&L report?

The typical users of this type of visual P&L report are: Board Members, Executives, CFOs, Analysts, Accountants.

Other Visual P&L reports Often Used in Conjunction with Monthly P&L Variance Reports

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) Departments sometimes use several different Monthly P&L Variance Reports, along with KPI dashboards, revenue and sales reports, balance sheet and cash flow reports and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from 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)

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