The first stage is to ensure the organisational chart clearly represents the management responsibility of each department and activity area. Financial accountancy and cost accounting should be integrated and aligned to enable detailed management information reporting and accurate financial records for each activity.
The cost and management information reporting system should be focused upon critical items where management action influences the financial result. Before setting the revenue budget the managing director, advised by the financial director or management accountant, should identify all crucial elements of the business that may have an impact on future financial performance.
Having established the departmental responsibility for producing the budget and the critical items that will be monitored the accountant should prepare budget templates and hold pre-budget meetings with the departmental heads. At these series of meetings the department heads will receive the budget templates and discuss the detail required and the timetable for submission.
Management responsibility for producing the departmental budget is crucial to achieving the financial targets and can be greatly enhanced by relating bonus payments to the level of achievement.
The work of the management accountant is to receive all the departmental budgets and put them together in a final budget for approval by the directors. Throughout the budget approval process adjustments are likely to be required to reach the overall financial objectives but once finalised each budget should be signed off by the department head responsible.
Simply taking the previous years numbers and adding a percentage is a simple solution to preparing the next year budget but is likely to be of poor quality. Quality comes from department heads and managers generally taking responsibility for their own areas of activity and agreement to the detailed financial parameters.