How to Calculate Variance Calculator, Analysis & Examples

In some cases, budget variances are the result of external factors which are impossible to control, such as natural disasters. When the amount of actual revenue is less than the standard or budgeted amount. Thus, actual revenues of $400,000 versus a budget of $450,000 equals an unfavorable revenue variance of $50,000. An unfavorable variance is encountered when an organization is comparing its actual results to a budget or standard.

Charlene Rhinehart is a CPA , CFE, chair of an Illinois CPA Society committee, and has a degree in accounting and finance from DePaul University.

When Did the Variance Occur?

The variance can be favorable, meaning the price was higher than anticipated, or unfavorable, meaning the price failed to meet expectations. Companies can use the information to adjust prices or shift their inventory to better reflect what customers most want to purchase. There are many different steps you can take to rectify an unfavorable variance. The sooner these variances can be detected, the sooner management can address the problem and avoid a loss of profit. Unfavorable variances often indicate that something did not go according to plan, financially.

  • Researching COGS variances can take a lot of time without a thorough understanding of where to look (or without the proper tools).
  • The variance can be favorable, meaning the price was higher than anticipated, or unfavorable, meaning the price failed to meet expectations.
  • These variances are important to keep track of because they provide information for the business owner or manager on where the business is successful and where it is not.
  • A favorable variance is when the actual performance of the company is better than the projected or budgeted performance.

Variance is a term that is often used in the business world, but many don’t really understand what it means. In this blog post, we will discuss what variance is, why it’s important, and how to determine if a variance is favorable or unfavorable. We will also explore some strategies for dealing with unfavorable variances and how to optimize them to your advantage. So read on to learn more about variance and how you can use it to make better business decisions.

Can Variances Be Positive Or Negative?

The accounting term “unfavorable variance” refers to situations where actual costs are higher than expected or standard. After a certain amount of time has passed, the company’s management has to evaluate how well it has stuck to its budget or forecasted numbers. In accounting and financial management, “unfavorable variance” refers to a difference between actual performance and expected or budgeted performance that negatively impacts a company’s financial standing. In other words, an unfavorable variance occurs when actual revenues are lower than expected, or actual expenses are higher than budgeted, resulting in lower profits than planned.


The difference of $5,000 is the negative budget variance or unfavorable variance. A favorable variance may indicate to the management of a company that its business is doing well and operating efficiently. As a company grows, it may have learned ways to produce more without a need to increase its expenses, resulting in a higher revenue stream. However, a favorable variance may indicate that production expectations were not realistic in the first place, which is more likely if the company is new.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

This might happen when an invoice has not been received or a payment was made earlier or later than expected. If an invoice is not entered during the correct time period, it can throw off your whole monthly budget and cause unexpected variances. Therefore, monitoring for unfavorable manufacturing variances should focus on understanding which specific units of measure were used to quickly identify and address any discrepancies. Identifying and understanding them can provide valuable insights into areas that require attention, helping the company make informed decisions to improve future performance. However, the most important factor is whether the variance is favorable or unfavorable.

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Companies that fail to meet their earnings forecasts essentially have an unfavorable variance within their company–whether it be from higher costs, lower revenue, or lower sales. If a company had budgeted its revenues to be $200,000 and the actual revenues end up being $208,000, the company will have a favorable variance of $8,000. The variance dividends account is favorable because having the actual revenues being more than the amount budgeted is good for the company’s profits. It will also be a factor why the company’s actual profits will be better than the budgeted profits. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the term used to describe the direct costs of all materials used in Manufacturing.

Income Statement: Definition, How to Use & Examples

After a month of effort actual results start coming in and actual units sold were 2600 at a price of $8 per unit. Sometimes, there could be a discrepancy in your data accuracy simply because of a typo during entry. Other times the variance could be the result of something more complicated like price or volume being different from what was budgeted.