Variance Analysis – understanding how to read your actual performance against budget


Cost for BPP PD Members: £415 + VAT 6 CPD Hours
(£599.00 + VAT for non BPP PD Members Click Here for details of our membership scheme).

Please click below to watch our short course introduction video

Course level



This course will be of benefit to budget holders and analysts, at all levels, who need to develop an understanding of how to analyse their company’s or divisional performance against budget. Staff who are expected to improve company performance will be given direction during this course.

Course Content

This course is designed to give you the tools to ensure you are able to explore how the financial performance of the business compares to the budget or other benchmarks. It will not only allow you to build your confidence to identify changes in performance, but it will also build your confidence to explore the reasons behind these changes.

The course will explore, in a practical way, the common areas that a company’s financial performance could differ from that which was budgeted. It will allow you to explore how you can contribute to your company’s success by ensuring that positive areas of performance are identified whilst also identifying areas for improvement.

Learning outcomes include obtaining a greater understanding of:

  • How financial variance analysis is used as a performance evaluation tool and can often be used as part of cost control
  • How the interpretation of variances is as important as the calculation themselves
  • The principle of controllability and its application within the performance management system
  • The relationship between variances in different parts of the business, and the ability to challenge this
  • Factors that should and should not be allowed to be used when revising the original budget
  • Behavioural problems resulting from using variance analysis including motivation and manipulation
  • The dangers of simply comparing budget to actual
    • How variance analysis is used within the business
    • Understanding how to ‘flex’ the budget’ to ensure fair comparison
  • Calculating variances
    • Understanding variance caused by drivers changed by volumes
    • Exploring variances caused by true cost savings or price rises
  • Interpretation
    • Getting behind the variances to understand what has potentially happened in the business
    • Investigating the variances to find out the story
    • Importance of variances seen and materiality
    • Understanding which accounts are interdependent
    • Spotting anomalies and seeing trends across the accounts
  • Controllability and challenge
    • Consideration as to who can control the variances
    • Using variance to appraise performance appropriately
    • Consider whether the original benchmark used for calculation was appropriate
    • Explore what factors should be taken into consideration when assessing the benchmark
  • Behavioural impacts
    • Explore what impact variance analysis has on employees working patterns
    • Consider what behavioural issues may occur when creating benchmarks
    • Explore the challenges of attempting to revise the budget

"A certificate of completion will be provided by BPP Professional Education Limited upon request, following attendance."

This course has an online live option available. Same expert presenters delivering the same content to your desk or mobile over multiple days in short 180 minute sessions. Watch our 5 minute explainer video to find out more.

Online LIVE Dates - - New try before you buy option available for 2018, no obligation to purchase, limited spaces available

All online live sessions are 02:00 pm to 05:00pm

Session 1 Session 2
15 May 2018 17 May 2018 Try for free Book Now
16 October 2018 18 October 2018 Book Now

Course Dates

Location Dates Time Availability  
London 18 Apr 2018 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM  Spaces Book Now
London 21 Sep 2018 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM  Spaces Book Now

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