Prior to reading the instructions on the Forecast Report, it is beneficial to review the following sections of the IU Accounting Standards Book to gain foundational information along with report requirements and best practices:
- Accounting Fundamentals Section
- Chart of Accounts and General Ledger Section
- Financial Statements Section
Forecasting refers to the process of using current and historic cost data to predict future costs. The Forecast Report is a management tool that presents financial information (revenue and expense) based on actual and budgeted (projected) amounts within the current fiscal year. Forecasting assists fiscal officers and leadership in projecting future outcomes and/or trends. It allows them to review and predict revenues and expenses for the current fiscal year and ensure actual projections are in line with set budgets. This allows them to implement any necessary operational changes either in the current fiscal year or the next. The Forecast Report is also key in goal setting (i.e. setting target profit or revenues) as it helps project the financial position in which the entity is projected to finish. It is also used for control, to monitor and keep expenditure under a certain budgeted dollar amount. Additionally, the Forecast Report is important supporting documentation for the rate setting process and helps support expectations for future rates. The main purposes of this report are for planning and control. While it is not one of the primary financial statement reports, the forecast report has many different uses which are important to the continual financial health of the user’s unit and IU as a whole.
How the Forecast Report Works
A Forecast Report consists of seventeen columns, one for each month (i.e. fiscal period), and five that calculate forecast and budgeted amounts. At the beginning of the fiscal year, the monthly or period columns are populated with budgeted amounts and are labeled as budget in the column heading . As the periods close, the budget data is replaced by actual income and expenditures from the closed period. Other columns after the period columns include the Actual through Period X, Remaining Budget, Forecast and Budget.
The examples below represent the column headings of a Forecast Report run for period 6, showing the monthly period columns with July to December being actuals and January to June being budgeted figures. The Actual Through Period 6 column sums all figures from July to December while the Remaining Budget sums January to June columns. For display purposes, it is broken in to 3 sections.
The totals for the actual period figures are summed together in the Actual through Period X column with period X being the last closed period chosen. After the Actual through Period X column, there is the Remaining Budget column, which is made up of the total of the remaining budget (i.e. budget period sum of all the remaining future periods). When added together, the Actual through Period X and Remaining Budget column provides the user with the Forecast column. The Forecast column has the initial Budget column from the entity to the right for side by side comparatives. This helps show users where they are projected to end compared to where they had planned to end side by side.
The budgeted amount in the Budget column is the same as the July 1 budget of the entity which is then spread out into 12 periods. Any current budget adjustments will in turn adjust the budget figures on the forecast report for periods that are not yet closed. Where no current budget adjustments are done, the initial budget (i.e. July 1 budget) will be represented in this column. Monthly budgets allow entities to spread their annual budget into twelve separate smaller budgets . This is important when entities have revenue and expense lines that are not earned or incurred evenly over the 12 months of the fiscal year. For example, football ticket revenue is typically earned in September thru November.
In scenarios where an initial budget was never prepared for the entity, the forecast report will only have closed periods populated with actual data and future periods with zeros. It assumes that since nothing was budgeted for in those periods, no activity is expected. A quick way of checking for whether an initial budget was prepared is by looking at the Budget column for zeros throughout.
Running the Report
Define the search parameters to return results relevant to your organization or to a specific account. The search parameters available in the Forecast Report are divided into three parameter types: chart of account report parameters, report specific parameters and display parameters.
If there are questions related to running the report, requirements or reviewing results, please contact your (RC) fiscal officer or campus office. Each campus may have individual specific requirements related to the Forecast Report, so be sure to reach out to the related campus office or fiscal officer prior to quarter closings.
General Notes: Do not include any special characters other than approved wildcards in any of the below parameters. Additionally, do not run reports by campus as it will take up valuable computing services.
Click Save Parameter Settings to save your parameters for future use of this report. For instructions on how to save settings, review the Save Parameter Settings document on the Controller's Office Reporting Tools page.