Starting with Strategy: Evaluating Plans and Budgets - Ravila Gupta

Ravila Gupta

Ravila Gupta — a strategist at the intersection of executive leadership, engineering, law, and executive coaching, is a budgeting expertise as well. She approaches each business problem with a multifaceted approach and is able to combine her broad expertise to develop creative and innovative solutions for complex problems. In the following video, Ravila shares how budgeting for an organization goes far beyond numbers - it's all about strategy.

Ravila Gupta

“I’m going to approach this in two different ways. At a high-light level and at a more granular level. So as most of you know, budgets are not just a collection of numbers, they need to be designed with a strategy in mind. When I was working at budget, I would ascertain what is the strategy that we are embarking on? Is it a growth strategy? Is it a sustaining strategy? Or is it survival? Then I would want to see the budget reflect that typical strategy.

“For example, if we're looking at a growth budget, I want to see investment in talent acquisition and marketing. Sometimes it was also very useful for me to look at budgets in terms of goalsetting, for example, if companies' goal is to reach their overhead, I’d really want to budget to reflect lower admin costs, lower rent costs, etc. It is important for management to articulate at a very high level what is the strategy we are embarking on, and then make the budget reflect that. More gradually, obviously would be looking at actual income vs. budget. If there was a shortfall, I’d want to know the reasons - would it be sales, flat market situation, or are any of our products underperforming? If I found that revenues were actually higher than budgeted, I want to know what happened there as well. Were our targets too low in that case? How does the timing of the revenue fit with the transactions? Then looking at actual expenses to budgets, how did the fixed costs differ from what we had budgeted, did the variable costs fit in line with the budget.

“This forces a very close look at the assumptions that were made that went into the actual budgeting process, and it forces a discussion on if there were unforeseen circumstances, was the forecasting incorrect, and so on. It allows learning for when we set future budgets so we have a good idea of the assumptions. It also allows us to adjust out budgets as needed as well. From a CEO perspective, I would evaluate if a budget is in line with the strategy and then look at the actual budget and evaluate what happened, and why.”

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