A budget vs. actual dashboard visually compares an initiative’s projected budget with the actual amount spent on the project thus far. In doing so, budget vs. actual dashboards make it simple to track whether projects are staying on budget and whether they’re likely to exceed costs before the project is completed. The budget dashboard example from ClearPoint above, which tracks the budget based on the project’s percent complete, is particularly useful in this regard. Budget dashboards can also be a critical part of the project review process; by reviewing which projects went above budget and why, you can better inform the budget for future initiatives.
There are many ways to visualize budget v. actual data. The chart above focuses on initiative budget and depicts the aggregate spending on initiatives during a given period. The red line represents the target budget and shows how much money should have been spent at a given point in time, according to the completion percentage of the initiatives. The purple and green bars total to the actual amount spent on initiatives at a given point in time. Showing the budget in relation to the status of the initiative allows managers to visualize the pace of spending. In addition, this allows managers to track whether they are on budget for their initiatives in the given period.
On this same dashboard view, users can drill down into specific initiatives, or projects, to get more context on why the spending is above or below the budget. In ClearPoint, qualitative custom fields, like analysis and recommendations, go deeper and explain why the initiative is over budget.
Budget vs. actual dashboards can also display information on the actual spending of various projects so that an organization can track the health of its overall budget as well. A gauge dashboard like the one above is a great way to quickly visualize how well an organization as a whole is doing at sticking to its project budgets.
Visualization makes it easy to get a snapshot of your spending. With a visualization of the spending over time, you can quickly identify and address any unexpected spikes or drops. This visualization allows leaders to easily see the pace of their spending and quickly understand if they are on budget for the month, quarter, and year.
The ability to drill down is a critical part of the project review process. If any unexpected spikes are found in the budgeted vs actual spending visualization, managers can easily drill down into projects to review which projects went above budget and why. This drill down ability allows managers not only to easily gain more information and missing context, it also allows them to better plan their budget in the future.
Display of project ownership allows managers to easily follow-up and discuss projects with the proper employees. When managing a few initiatives and projects, this may seem easy to do without the need to display project ownership. For larger organizations, however, this becomes a helpful tool for managers and allows them to save time searching for the proper team. Regardless of team size, it’s a key element to practice that becomes beneficial as a company scales and makes it easy for anyone within your organization to understand who owns which initiatives.
This dashboard is intended to be viewed by project managers and finance departments. Project managers and budget managers can utilize this dashboard to gain an understanding of how projects are staying on budget and how that may impact the company’s budget for all projects.