Variance Analysis Formula

Defining Variance Analysis

Variance analysis is used to assess the degree to which actual behavior varied from what was anticipated when comparing actual behavior to what was expected. This kind of research is intended to keep a business in check by analyzing areas where things went wrong unexpectedly. For example, if your projected sales are $10,000 and your actual sales are $8,000, there will be a $2,000 difference, according to the variance analysis. Variance analysis is particularly useful when looking at the amount of variation on a trend line since abrupt changes in the variance level from one month to the next are more apparent. The examination of these disparities in the context of variance analysis offers a description of the difference between actual results and expectations, as well as an explanation of why the discrepancy arose. To illustrate Variance Analysis Formula as an example, consider the following findings of a thorough examination of the sales variance:

“According to the budget, sales fell $2,000 shy of the $10,000 target for the month. In this instance, the loss of ABC client, who typically spends $1,800 per month with the business, happened at the end of the previous month. This was the primary reason of the variation. ABC’s client status has been terminated due to a string of missed deliveries.” Management may get a better grasp of the variables that drive changes in its business by doing this kind of in-depth variance study.

Variance Analysis Formula

There are two formulas to calculate variance (Variance Analysis Formula):

  • Variance % = Actual / Forecast – 1


  • Variance $ = Actual – Forecast

Variance Analysis Formula

Table of Calculation for Variance Analysis Formula (variance % and variance $)

Forecast Actual Variance (%) Variance ($)
Revenue           200,000           215,000 7.5%             15,000
Cost of Goods Sold             60,000             80,000 33.3%             20,000
Gross Profit           112,000           120,000 7.1%              8,000
EBITDA             55,000             68,000 23.6%             13,000
Net Income             25,000             30,000 20.0%              5,000

How a business can use variance analysis to exercise control over its operations

Variance analysis is like comparing the actual outcome with expected outcome which is budgeted for getting the success. So, business uses variance analysis for controlling business operation for cost controlling to wastage controlling. To meet the financial commitments and financial planning objectives the application of variance analysis is important.  The following steps are followed for variance analysis:

  1. Comparing the actual result of last year and budget of current year, which is helpful for financial planning, and effective planning for budgeting process.
  2. Existing budget and current year budgets actuals are evaluated, which is helpful for meeting the financial commitments and financial planning objectives. This course of action is practiced regularly throughout the years like at the close of every quarters and at year-ends.
  3. Analyzing the last year actual budget and the budget of current year amount which is helpful for analyzing growth. This course of action is done at year-ends.

Common Forms of Variance Analysis

The following are the most often used derived variances in variance analysis (they are linked to more detailed explanations and examples):

  • Variation in the purchase price – The actual cost of materials utilized in the manufacturing process, less the standard cost, multiplied by the quantity produced.
  • Variation in labor rates – Actual compensation for direct labor employed in the manufacturing process, less its standard cost, multiplied by the number of units used.
  • Variable variation in overhead expenditure – Subtract the normal variable overhead cost per unit from the actual cost and multiply the remaining by the total output unit amount.
  • Variation in overhead expenditure is fixed – The amount by which total fixed overhead expenses surpass total standard overhead costs for the reporting period.
  • Variation in the selling price – The difference between the actual and standard selling prices multiplied by the quantity sold.
  • Variation in material yield – Subtract the entire standard amount of materials to be used from the actual level of usage and multiply the remaining by the standard unit price.
  • Variation in labor efficiency –  Subtract the standard amount of work used from the actual amount and multiply the difference by the standard hourly wage.
  • Variable variation in overhead efficiency – Subtract from the actual units of activity the budgeted units of activity for which variable overhead is paid, multiplied by the normal variable overhead cost per unit.

It is not essential to keep track of all previous deviations. In many companies, reviewing only one or two deviations may be adequate. For instance, a services company (such as a consulting firm) may be entirely focused on labor efficiency variation, while a manufacturing firm operating in a highly competitive market may be primarily concerned with buy price variance. In other words, focus the majority of your variance analysis efforts on the deviations that have the most impact on the business if the underlying problems can be resolved.

Which variances managers should choose to investigate?

The following variances are chosen by the managers to investigate:

Cost variances

  • Direct material quantity variance
  • Direct material price variance
  • Direct labor efficiency variance
  • Direct labor rate variance
  • Variable overhead efficiency variance
  • Variable overhead spending variance

Business Size and budget size

The actual and the standard size of business to be demonstrated on favorable and unfavorable cases.

Past pattern

The past pattern of budget and its financial results are considered on the aspect of variance analysis to identify the trends in business variances.

Problems in using Variance Analysis

Variance analysis has a variety of drawbacks that hinder many companies from using it to their advantage. The names of these individuals are as follows:

There is a lag in the passage of time. After each month’s financial reporting has been completed, the accounting team compiles a monthly summary of variances that is then given to the management team. Managers require feedback much more rapidly than they do once a month in a fast-paced workplace; as a consequence, they prefer to rely on alternative measurements or warning flags that are generated on the fly rather than waiting for monthly reports (especially in the production area).

Insights on the origins of the variation are provided. Many of the reasons for deviations are not documented in the accounting records, therefore the accounting staff must comb through information such as bills of materials, labor routings, and overtime records in order to determine the underlying causes of the problems that have developed in the first place. In order for the extra effort to be cost-effective, it must be shown that management is actively addressing problems as a consequence of the information collected.

This is the default configuration. The essence of variance analysis is simply a comparison of real-world events to an artificial standard that may have been created via political discussions. The variation that is generated as a result of this may not include any useful information.

This is because many companies prefer to analyze and comprehend their financial data using horizontal analysis rather than variance analysis, which is why this is the case in this instance. Using this technique, the results of many periods are displayed side by side, which makes it simple to see trends in the data.

Written by

Md. Shadequr Rahaman

Email: [email protected]

Variance Analysis Formula

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