There’s a number of ways to make a budget. You might sit down with your clients, plan out the next 12 months, draft a budget, and repeat this process once a year. If you’re looking for a way to get your clients timelier and more strategic information, consider helping them develop a rolling budget.
You might traditionally have met with your client in September to approve an annual budget covering January through December. To start developing a rolling budget plan, you want to meet with your client at the end of January (after one month of the budget period has passed) and have your client prepare an additional budget to add for the following January. Your client now has a 12-month budget covering February through next January. After each month passes, your client adds one more month of budgeted information to roll into an annual budget.
There’s a number of benefits to rolling budgets. Your clients will be more prepared and less likely to encounter business surprises. A rolling budget holds them more accountable because they’re forced to look at their budget every month. Although it takes more time to prepare, a rolling budget doesn’t leave your clients feeling the burden of preparing an annual budget all at one time.
A rolling budget also offers a way to make smarter business decisions. Traditional budgets may typically leave some of your client’s departments thinking they can spend more money at the end of the budget cycle out of fear they may lose this money next year. Under a rolling budget, there is no end, so your client’s staff is less likely to spend money just because they have it.
To use a rolling budget, your clients first need an annual budget. Then, help them stay accountable by adding incremental budgets for each period that passes. By always adding onto their original budget, your clients are in a position to be flexible and have a forward-looking plan.