My client doesn't have a budget. Where do I start?

This question sometimes pops up, so here we go:

1. Budget builder in Spotlight Forecasting

Use the Spotlight P&L budget builder in Spotlight Forecasting. Once you create the P&L in Spotlight Forecasting (as a P&L budget only or a 3 way forecast) you can import last year’s actuals as a base, or just the chart of accounts. From here you can start working on the P&L forecast. It looks like a spreadsheet in one sense, but you can also use the smart grid to quickly build it out. The dynamic rules will allow you to take either a driver or an account and create a formula to give a more accurate forecast of revenue and expenses.

Once you’re finished, you can export the P&L budget back to the client accounting file for Actual/Budget reporting there.

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Once done, if you’re using management reports in the blue “reporting” module, you can import the budget from your accounting file into your Spotlight management reports.

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Note: the advantage of creating the P&L budget in Spotlight is that at the same time you can start using the Spotlight P&L rules to start working on your forecasted cash flow as well.

2. Customise Data Grid

A quick and dirty trick when preparing a management report is to just punch some P&L budget figures into the data grid before your meeting. You may have not had time to put in a budget together with the client, but doing this quickly will allow you to show what some of the Budget Vs Actual reporting in Spotlight might look like, and discuss revising a budget during the meeting. Note: not ALL budget fields will display in the P&L Reports, so this is useful for a basic high level forecast.

Another option is to leave the budget blank and run actual Vs budget reports for your client meeting and show your client. The report will look, well… INCOMPLETE! And that’s ok, because you can point out to your client that every business needs a budget, and they should consider doing this too, which will make their Spotlight Reports more meaningful and give more impetus for discussions.

3. Create the budget in your accounting file

Create a budget in your client’s accounting file. Once done, this can be imported into Spotlight Reporting, Forecasting and Dashboards.

4. Import via Excel

Spotlight does have an excel import feature, so if you’ve got a budget in Excel already, you can copy/paste it into that and bring into Spotlight that way.

Once you have a budget in Spotlight, make sure you’re adding in some projected P&Ls in your report pages. For example, add a new P&L Analysis page and select all the ‘future projection options’.

Have fun!

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