Verifying the Variance

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A financial manager’s responsibilities do not cease after he or she develops a budget for execution. On the contrary, the manager’s job begins with a completed budget. The manager must track the execution of the budget approved by senior leadership to meet financial goals. Since trends, costs, and other externalities can cause changes or variances in the budget, the financial manager must monitor and adjust spending when necessary to account for those variances.

Even with relatively good control, taxes, rounding effects, and unexpected price increases can negatively affect budget execution. Nickels and dimes add up quickly. If unaccounted for and not closely tracked, those nickels and dimes can derail even the most carefully considered financial plan. Overspending can pose serious threats to projects and the availability of resources for future projects. Under spending can indicate a problem in quality control. Under spending may be a good thing (due to improved efficiency) or it may also be bad (manufacturers cutting corners, which may result in inferior product). The bottom line to remember is that variance happens and health care managers must respond effectively.

To prepare for this Application Assignment, review the Northeast Health System 2011 Annual Report. As you review, analyze the concept of variance. Consider what factors influence variance and how organizations control these factors in a real world setting. Analyze how the economic environment in which the organization operates influences the means of adjusting expenditures to meet financial goals.

To complete this Application Assignment, you will calculate: 1) the variance for selected items from the annual report and 2) the percentage that each expense item contributes to the overall expenses. Next, you will write a 2- to 3-page paper that explains how the variance and expense percentage calculations are used to monitor and control the budget.

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