I don’t know about your company, but my company is in full budget preparation mode. We’re working on getting our sales forecast and operating budgets put together in time for the end of year. Like most companies, we’re working on this predictive tool while we’re in the midst of finishing out the year, so of course, we get to make a few assumptions on how the year will end up. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have some pretty great account schedules that help folks at my company get a good solid look at where we ended up last year, what we planned for this year, and how we’ve done over a couple of years, and I’m going to share those three account schedule column layouts with you today. Hopefully these simple setups will give you some quick ways to wow your company and make their budget construction process easier.

Tip 1:  Show 12 months of actual data

We ask our budget managers to give us a twelve month prediction, why shouldn’t we give them twelve months of data to work with?  No matter what month you’ve just closed, you can quickly put together an account schedule that shows all of the completed months for the year (in this case, January-September) as well as October/November/December of the prior year.  This way, if your activity is generally the same year over year, budget managers can get a quick gauge from this setup. Keep in mind this column layout isn’t dynamic, so it’s not a true rolling twelve months. For budgeting purposes, it’ll get you what you need.

Tip 2:  Show 9 months of actual data and show what the plan is for the last three months of the year

Another way to provide a projection for the year is to show all the completed months for the year (again, January-September) and then show the budgeted plan for October/November/December.  This method shows actual activity as well as three months of planned activity in order to project the total for the year. If activity this year is significantly different (higher or lower) from the year prior, you might depend on this view instead.

Tip 3:  Show a whole bunch of history at a high level

Especially for sales forecasting, it sometimes gets difficult to look at too much data at once. One way to get past data analysis overload is to provide a few years’ worth of annual data. This column layout will give four years of data, helping you to compare not only year over year, but multiple year trending in your data.

All three of these tips should give you a few additional tools to help you make sense of a whole lot of data.  They can be applied to almost any row setup you have whether that setup is related to revenue or expenses.  If you’re looking for more formulas, visit the account schedule formulas page.

Happy Budgeting!