# Budget to Actual Variance Analysis Formula + Calculation

This level of detailed variance analysis allows management to understand why fluctuations occur in its business, and what it can do to change the situation. Thus, by using Variance Analysis, Ram International can identify the cost components showing variation and take corrective actions accordingly. However, it is pertinent to note that not all variances reported through Variance Analysis are controllable. An uncontrollable Variance is not amenable to control by individual or departmental action. It is caused by external factors such as a change in market conditions, fluctuations in demand and supply, etc, over which the business doesn’t have any control and, as such, is uncontrollable in nature.

The cost per glove is based on the amount of material used, and the price paid for materials. The business assumes that 4 square feet of leather is used per glove, and that the leather cost (or standard price) is \$5 per square foot. Outdoor paid less per hour for direct labor than budgeted (\$21.50 vs. \$25), which generates a favorable variance. The overhead variance is favorable, because the actual overhead rate is less than budgeted (\$2.75 vs. \$3.00). The company allocated \$2.75 in actual overhead costs to each glove produced.

## Things to Remember About Variance Analysis

Adding the two variables together, we get an overall variance of \$4,800 (Unfavorable). Management should address why the actual labor price is a dollar higher than the standard and why 1,000 more hours are required for production. It is similar to the labor format because the variable overhead is applied based on labor hours in this example. If actual costs are higher than budgeted, or if the rate or price paid is higher than budgeted, the variance is unfavorable. The direct material variance is unfavorable, because Outdoor used more material than planned (4.2 square feet vs. 4 square feet), and paid more per square foot than planned (\$5.30 vs. \$5 per square foot).

• When the Actual Cost is higher than the Standard Cost, Variance Analysis is said to be Unfavorable or Adverse, which is a sign of inefficiency and thereby reduces the profit of the business.
• However, it should be used on major cost and revenue items to safeguard the time and cost of analyzing the management.
• It is an important tool by which business managers ensure adequate control and undertake corrective action whenever needed (mostly in the case of Adverse Variation).
• Variance analysis can be summarized as an analysis of the difference between planned and actual numbers.
• Adding these two variables together, we get an overall variance of \$3,000 (unfavorable).
• In cost accounting, a standard is a benchmark or a “norm” used in measuring performance.

Overhead costs are assigned to the products that Outdoor produces, including baseball gloves. Adding the budget variance and volume variance, we get a total unfavorable variance of \$1,600. Taking the classic variance analysis one step further, an analyst can compare actuals to the period immediately prior and to the same period the prior year. Analyzing variances in this way will help bring to light potential changes in seasonality and timing changes that can help to correct future forecasts.

## What is variance analysis?

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In accounting, a variance is the difference between an actual amount and a budgeted, planned or past amount. Variance analysis is one step in the process of identifying and explaining the reasons for different outcomes. When explaining budget to actual variances, it is a best practice to not to use the terms “higher” or “lower” when describing a particular line time. For example, expenses may have come in higher than planned, but that produces a negative variance to profit.

## The Column Method for Variance Analysis

Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts. Probe further to find out how you can help the business with whatever the relevant teams are struggling with. For example, if a business unit did not hit targets because it was unable to hire qualified staff in time, talk to Human Resources and find out if any initiatives are in place to correct this. Budget to Actual Variance Analysis is among one of the key functions for a FP&A professional to perform while on the job.

Our goal is to deliver the most understandable and comprehensive explanations of financial topics using simple writing complemented by helpful graphics and animation videos. Variances impact each of the financial statements, including the balance sheet and income statement. If higher costs lead to increased spending, the business may develop a cash flow shortage. Our mission is to empower readers with the most factual and reliable financial information possible to help them make informed decisions for their individual needs. Finance Strategists is a leading financial literacy non-profit organization priding itself on providing accurate and reliable financial information to millions of readers each year. At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content.

## The Classic: Budget to Actual Variance

The actual price paid was \$5.30 per square foot, which is higher than the \$5 per glove budgeted amount. High-quality leather supplies are low, and Outdoor paid more for leather than planned. A price variance (or material price variance) means that the business paid more or less than planned for materials or labor. Variance Analysis helps in analyzing the difference between Actual Cost and Standard Cost.

Since the company budgeted \$3 in overhead costs per glove, Outdoor has an overhead variance. The actual amount paid for labor was lower than budgeted, because of an economic slowdown. Outdoor paid \$21.50 per hour, not the \$25 per hour budgeted, and this means that the company has a rate variance. The actual numbers for labor hours matched the two hours budgeted per glove. If the budgeted hours differed from actual hours worked, Outdoor would have a labor efficiency variance.