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What Does a Budget Manager Do?

By Theresa Miles
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A budget manager oversees an organization's revenue and expense process. The job has elements of financial accounting, forecasting, auditing and process supervision. This position can be organization-wide or project-based. The title is very typical in government agencies and nonprofit organizations but can also be a designated role in for-profit businesses that engage in project management.

Organizations typically have an operating budget and a capital, or facilities and equipment, budget. A capital budget tends to be static, as capital expenditures tend to happen according to a specific plan that requires little daily management. Operating budgets, however, are very fluid. These types of budgets rely on projections of revenue and expenses that are made at the beginning of the year but can prove inaccurate as the reality of business operations play out in real time.

Chief financial officers (CFOs) or directors of finance usually hire budget managers as middle-management specialists. The budget manager handles all aspects of the development of the operating and capital budgets at the beginning of the fiscal year when an organization is planning for the year ahead. His duties do not end with planning for the future, however. A budget manager also monitors the staff, departments or projects to ensure revenue and expenses hit the budget targets. If revenue is under-budget or expenses go over-budget, the budget manager reports the variance to the organization's executives so projections and plans can be changed.

Specific duties of a budget manager include developing single or multi-year forecasts of revenue and expenses across the entire organization or project. These forecasts are typically broken down by project or department, particularly for operating budgets. Once the budget for a fiscal year has been approved, the manager works with department and project managers to keep their activities within budget parameters. The budget manager interacts with executives frequently on the operating budget, sometimes on a monthly basis, to report variances and offer solutions for modifying the budget to reflect actual circumstances.

At the end of the fiscal year, the manager conforms the budget to the actual expenses incurred and revenue generated, and provides this information to the organization's executives and tax professionals. The process then starts all over again, as upcoming yearly budgets are modified to reflect what happened in the year that just passed. Meanwhile, the budget manager is responsible for establishing policies and procedures for reporting revenue and expenses and managing a budget process that complies with best practices in the industry.

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