What is a Profit & Loss Variance Report ?

Profit & Loss (P&L) reports are considered perhaps the most popular monthly financial statement format and are used by executives and financial managers to review monthly results as well as variances against budget and prior year. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it is a dynamic, web-based report where users pick the month and entity to run the report for. The format below shows traffic lights to highlight significant variances. The rows expand dynamically based on filters that determine which accounts to include. Users can drill down on any number to explore the underlying transaction detail to quickly answer their questions.. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of Monthly P&L Variance Reports

Retailer companies use Monthly P&L Variance Reports to provide professional, self-service financial results to their managers. When used as part of good business practices in a Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) department, a company can improve its focus on variances and profit analysis capabilities as well as reduce the chances that managers do not properly analyze reports because of old, hard-to-read legacy formats.

Monthly P&L Variance Report Example

Here is an example of a Monthly Profit & Loss Report with budget and prior year variances.

Retail – P&L Variance Report

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Corporate executives, controllers, store managers, regional managers.

Other 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 general sales forecasts and budgets, balance sheets, cash flow statements and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data 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