Managing business performance & variance tracking

How to manage the operations using variance tracking tools & dashboards

What is business performance?

What you’ll learn

  • Business performance review process, variance calculation & explanations.
  • The management accounts structure & the 3-block template.
  • Dashboards & analyses.
  • Review tools & techniques.
  • How to set up a basic management accounts table & pack.

Course Content

  • Introduction –> 12 lectures • 21min.
  • The management accounts table & the 3-block template –> 9 lectures • 25min.
  • Data & data inputs for Management Accounts [variance tracking] case-study –> 8 lectures • 18min.
  • Practical [& hands on] business performance review –> 12 lectures • 46min.
  • The management acccounts system & process review pack –> 8 lectures • 22min.

Managing business performance & variance tracking


What is business performance?

It is the actual operations results [or performance], usually measured against defined goals and ambitions—what might be described as the budget or targets

It follows then that good performance is when we meet or out-perform against these targets, standards or measures. In other word, when we or the business exceeds budget.

Essentially then the nub of business performance review is the evaluation of actual performance versus or against the desired goals or budget.

This performance review can take on many forms, but at the root of business performance review is the comparison of actual versus budget, using some standard reference or report—commonly referred to as the monthly management accounts [which most businesses do, to one degree or another].

So what is it that top performing businesses do in terms of the management account review that often makes the difference in the success or otherwise of their operations—at the end of the day, it comes down to the approach in that leading businesses do not only report the variances [i.e. under or over-performance], but also actually analyse the variances, identify trends early, drill down into the root causes immediately, and make corrections promptly, where required to do so.

This sounds easy enough but in practice, to do this effectively [especially for bigger & more complex operations], demands a logical framework for the report [ie management accounts & variance tracking detail] for values and the value driver metrics [both income & expenditures]. This, in turn will inform not only the data and content that is required but also the timing or timeliness of the data updates and reports. Moreover, it often requires a detailed understanding of the specific operations and its machinations to overcome and solve for problems, or in fact to optimise the operations.

Often, the sheer volume, the data, the context, the relationships between different reports and content is simply overwhelming & difficult to make sense of [especially for employees & staff without practical experience in these matters] —as a result the business performance review amounts to little more than an arithmetic or compliance task [without any business or operations improvement benefit].

This is typically one of those areas [of business] where you learn by doing & experience—the problem is that often you left to fend [& learn for yourself], or you might be starting the function from scratch— and generally with little or limited access to case-study material, or literature, leaves you feeling vulnerable.

In this course, I will unpack:

§ The relevant terminology & theory

§ The structure and format of these variance tracking templates which form the basis of the management account report & detail

§ The dashboards and dashboard data content

§ Examples of the key value and metric variances [& relations with value results and variances]

§ A typical monthly management accounts commentary & report

At the end, you will have an understanding and knowledge of the broad framework & tools necessary to analyse the business performance, and understand the steps and processes to improve & optimise the operations.

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