Why a structured Budget Template?
Charles started laying out the budget template. Charles is the Head of Reporting at Get Fitted. He knows the first step is to create a template that enables easy processing of the budget data. The template should also be easy to use and friendly to the users. Get Fitted has 25 “shops” (representing the Profit Centers) across the East African region.
In case you missed the first part of this series, this article will make more sense if you read the earlier part – The 4 Dos of the Budgeting Process Automation.
The purple Jacaranda flowers brought little cheer as the short rains begun in earnest as Richard looked at the template. The organizational structure of Get Fitted is “Multi-dimensional”. Each profit center had three lines of business; vehicles, parts and services.
Charles had to ensure that budget data maps well with the business ERP. Charles considered Country operations, which are viewed as independent entities, as the first mappings. There are also business units that are key profit centers both within each country and across the countries. To ensure that users would not resist the tool, Richard advised Charles to include a view of historic data. He also indicated that there should be at least 2 summary page. One page should summarize by profit center and the other should summarize by Chart of Account line numbers. One more thing, Richard remarked, also include some visuals on the summary numbers for easier consumption by the users.
The following are the 3 must haves in the template
Businesses are dynamic and this means that changes are inevitable. Charles designed the budget templates and ensured great flexibility for future extensions. Updating the template will be a breeze and their will be no need for overhauling. The template should therefore allow with ease, additions to Chart of Account Lines, Departments, Segments, Business Lines, Regions etc. The budget template should also allow for period extensions which makes it easy to expand during the next budgeting period.
Ensure that there is an easy way for a user moving around the tool. A menu driven navigation process that displays only the point of focus at any moment would add great value here. Profit Center Managers at Get Fitted give their budget estimates at business segment level. This means that they have to review profitability at business segment level for better planning. It is a good idea therefore to have each business segment placed in it’s own separate page and create navigation menu for the user. For easier usability of the template, the layout for each segment page should be similar thus avoiding any confusion as user shifts from one page to the next.
Although users need to give their budget estimates at a very detailed level, it is essential that they have a summarized view that gives them not only summary in figures, but also visualized summary. The Profit Center managers would derive great value from a summary showing profitability view by business segment.
Summaries with visuals make it easy for managers to make adjustments on their budget estimates. The insights derived from the visuals make it easy to present the budget. Budgeting is a chore for the manager and it is therefore critical that they get a very visual feel of what they have projected which makes it easier to derive insights from it.