Variance Reporting: Explained

What is it, how to calculate it, formula, why it's important


Hey there, fellow finance enthusiasts! As a CFO, one of my favorite topics to discuss is variance reporting. Sure, some might call it dry or boring, but for me, this is where the magic happens. Today, I'm excited to share my passion for variance reporting with you.

What is Variance?

First things first, let's define variance. Simply put, variance is the difference between what was expected and what actually happened. This can refer to anything from actual expenses compared to the budgeted amount to actual sales compared to projected sales.

Why is Variance Reporting Important?

Now that we know what variance is, why should we care about reporting on it? Well, as a CFO, variance reporting is one of my most critical tools for understanding how well our company is performing. It allows me to identify areas where we exceeded our expectations and areas where we fell short so that we can adjust our strategy accordingly.

The Components of Variance Reporting

Variance reporting consists of two main components: calculation and analysis.


Calculating variance is straightforward. It involves taking the actual amount and subtracting it from the budgeted or projected amount. This gives you the variance amount. For example, let's say we budgeted $10,000 for marketing expenses in January, but our actual expenses totaled $12,000. Our variance would be $2,000 (actual expenses minus budgeted expenses).


Analysis is where things get more interesting. Understanding why the variance occurred is just as important as calculating it. To do this, you'll need to dig into the data and ask the right questions. Did unexpected expenses arise? Did a particular marketing campaign perform poorly? Was there a delay in the delivery of goods? Understanding the cause of the variance will help you determine if corrective action is needed or if the variance is a one-time occurrence.

The Benefits of Variance Reporting

Now that we know what variance reporting is and its importance let's take a look at some of the benefits.

Budget Control

First, variance reporting helps you maintain budget control by allowing you to identify areas where expenses are exceeding the budgeted amount. Once you know where the extra spending is occurring, you can take steps to reduce costs and stay within budget.

Improved Decision Making

Variance reporting also allows for better decision-making by providing you with accurate and timely information about how your company is performing. Armed with this information, you can make informed decisions about future investments, staffing decisions, and more.

Easy Communication

Finally, variance reporting makes it easy to communicate your company's performance to stakeholders. By presenting the data in an easy-to-understand format, you can quickly show investors, board members, and other stakeholders how well the company is doing.


In conclusion, variance reporting is one of the most powerful tools a CFO has for understanding and improving a company's performance. By calculating variance, analyzing the data, and taking action where necessary, you can maintain budget control, improve decision-making, and communicate your company's performance to stakeholders. So, embrace the power of variance reporting, fellow finance enthusiasts, and watch your company thrive!
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