Sales Variance Analysis



Sales Variance Analysis





Topic                       :       Sales Variance Analysis

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Table of contents

Executive Summary of the Project – Sales Variance
Report – Sales Variance
General Motors Company
Revenue Analysis – General Motors Company
Recommendations & Conclusion



Executive Summary

In today’s era, budgeting has become the most important parameter of measuring success & growth factor for the corporate. These budgets are prepared by the Steering committees. These budgets are proposed by the committee which are discussed by the Board members & are accepted & supported.

Thus, over here, Variance analysis comes into the picture & looks over the facts which cause a difference between the standards & the actual. The management analyses the variances & takes corrective measure where ever required to forecast future factors for growth.


There are many procedures of doing variance analysis. These methods range from simple and straightforward to the very sophisticated and complex methods.

Variances are divided & sub divided into various categories by the techniques of cost accounting methods. However, a single variance can be also analysed as a group of various other variances with the help of the cost & quality factors associated with them.

These variances can be both favorable & unfavorable. The variances are favorable when it results in an extra profit when compared with the budget & the variances are unfavorable when it leads to loss when compared with the budget.

The most sophisticated systems usually separate the unit and price parameters on the basis of material, labour, mix of products, quality, quantity & various other factors of production which are used in the manufacture of goods.

Variance analysis aids the company in targeting and positioning of the various products on account of profitability & thus, helps in analyzing the score of customer satisfaction.

It helps to improve the sales with the help of successful marketing & helps in evaluating & solving the various specific problems related to the marketing sector & functions so that the profitability ratios can be increased.


Sales variance can be defined as the difference between the actual sales made by an organisation and the budgeted sales expected by them.

It is an effective measure to analyse the performance of the sales function which further helps to analyse the performance of an entity in the present market conditions & helps in forecasting future growth & profitability.

There are various reasons for the sales variance but the most important technical reasons are:

The actual volume sold is more or less than the budgeted volume

Sales are made at a price which is higher or lower than the price mentioned in the budget

Thus, the sales price variance helps in explaining the difference in the total revenue which is caused by selling at a price different from the price planned at the beginning or by selling a different output.

This variance can be both favorable & unfavorable.

Sales Price variance happens because of sales volume variance which can be because of the following two reasons:

  1. Sales Mix Variance
  2. Sales Quantity Variance

Thus, if we budget for sales of say $5,000 & the actual sales at the end of the period is $ 6,000 then there is a variance & the analysis reveals a difference of $1,000. This variance is a favorable because sales have increased.



There are various methods of analyzing the sales variance. They are:

  1. Purchase price variance.
  2. Labor rate variance
  3. Material yield variance
  4. Variable overhead spending variance
  5. Fixed overhead spending variance
  6. Selling price variance


They can be further explained as mentioned below:

  1. Purchase price variance.

This arises when more cost is incurred in procuring the raw material which is further used in the production. Thus, this is the actual cost incurred less the standard cost to be incurred for such materials multiplied by the total number of units.


  1. Labor rate variance

This can increase or decrease the total revenue of less / more cost is incurred in procuring the labour required for production. Thus, this is the actual price paid to the labor less the planned standard cost which is further multiplied by the total number of units used for the production of goods.


  1. Material yield variance

This is the variance in respect of the material to be used for the production of goods. This is difference of actual cost & the standard cost.


  1. Variable overhead spending variance

This is the variance in respect of the overhead cost of variable nature incurred in the production of goods. This is difference of actual cost & the standard cost.


  1. Fixed overhead spending variance

This is the variance in respect of the overhead cost of fixed nature incurred in the production of goods. This is difference of actual cost & the standard cost.


  1. Selling price variance

This is actual variance which arises due to difference in the actual price & the standard price at which the goods are actually sold multiplied by the total number of goods sold.

Thus, as we can see variance analysis is an effective tool for measuring the actual performance of an entity with respect to the standards set by the management of the organisation. This is also important for benchmarking the growth factors in the concerned industry. There are many advantages of doing such variance analysis. They are mentioned below:

  • Variance analysis helps in determining the objective & evaluating such objectives by doing a comparison between the actual & budgeted figures.
  • Achieving the standards & achieving the targets boost the employee morale & motivates them for further growth.
  • Variance analysis is an important tool for effective decision making as variance analysis helps in identifying the areas of inefficiency.
  • Variance analysis helps in formulating the price of goods sold because if there is a favorable variance then, there is a scope of further increase in the price which can be planned strategically by the company.
  • In case of unfavorable variances, it is essential to identify the factors which are increasing the cost. This helps in identifying the areas of inefficiencies.
  • The principle of “Management by Exception” can be evaluated.
  • Variance analysis effectively helps to identify the factors responsible for undesirable performance. This further extends the scope for taking the corrective actions to reduce such variances in future.
  • There is free flow of communication within the organisation between the management and the supervisors as everyone in the organisation is fully aware of the standards which are set by the management & are required to be accomplished.
  • Variance analysis helps in procedures related to planning by making a summary of forecasting needs
  • It helps in establishing the bid prices on the contracts to be entered in future so that expected & desired profit targets can be determined & in turn achieved effectively.
  • It further helps in simplifying the procedure of bookkeeping by maintaining the records at the cost which is specifically mentioned as the standard cost.

Thus, as we have seen that the standard operation procedures of costing and variance analysis are immensely important tools but they have certain drawbacks too.

The various drawbacks of variance analysis & the reasons due to which it can’t be followed effectively are as follows:

  • Delay in timing

The variances are compiled by the accounting staff generally at the end of the month before finalizing & issuing the results to the management. This increases the timing errors & as a result no step could have been taken in respect of that particular period. Thus, variances should be reported on a daily basis to optimize the results in the most effective manner.

  • Information source

At times it is very difficult to analyse the reasons for the variance.

  • Setting of standards – Variance analysis is basically because of the difference between the actual & standards. Thus, standards should be set on the basis of logical factors & it should be possible to achieve such standards.

General Motors Company

General Motors is a world known brand manufacturing diverse brands. The total sales turnover is almost 8 million vehicles in around countries as in 120 countries of the world. General Motors Company is an American multinational, one of the largest automotive corporation, which is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. It is the world’s second-largest automaker in 2010.


They manufacture cars & trucks in almost in 31 countries. The most renowned brands are:

  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • GMC
  • Opel
  • Vauxhall
  • Holden


Revenue Variance Analysis of General Motors Company

We shall perform the sales variance analysis in respect of the three cars manufactured by them.

  • Chevrolet
  • Buick
  • GMC




The total sales reported by General Motors for the quarter ended were reported as 400,000 units, however, the actual 4th quarter sales were 500,000 units.

The Budgeted Operating Data can be presented as:


Car Selling


Variable cost / unit Cost / unit Sales volume (units)


$379 $182 $197 12,500


269 98 171 37,500
GMC 149 65 84 50,000
Total 100,000

However, the Actual Operating Data can be presented as:

Car Selling Price Per Unit VARIABLE COST / unit COST / unit Sales volume (units)


$349 $178 $171 11,000


285 92 193 44,000
GMC 102 73 29 55,000
Total 110,000

Now we shall do the variance analysis in respect of sales mix of the cars sold by the company. They are:

The Budgeted Operating Data can be presented as:


Car COST / unit Sales volume (units) Total COST COST% Sales Mix


$197 12,500 2,462,500 18.8% 12.5%


171 37,500 6,412,500 49.0% 37.5%
GMC 84 50,000 4,200,000 32.1% 50.0%
Total 100,000 13,075,000 100% 100%


However, the Actual Operating Data can be presented as:

Car COST / unit Sales volume (units) Total COST COST% Sales Mix


$171 11,000 1,881,000 15.7% 10.0%


193 44,000 8,492,000 80.0% 40.0%
GMC 29 55,000 1,595,000 13.3% 50.0%
Total 110,000 11,968,000 100% 100%


Budgeted average UCOST = $13,075,000 / 100,000 units = $130.75 / unit

Actual average UCOST = $11,968,000 / 110,000 units = $108.80 / unit

Static-Budget Variance = $11,968,000 – $13,075,000 = $1,107,000.

The formula for Flexible budget = Actual total units sold * actual sales mix * budget UCOST

Flexible budget = (110,000 * 0.10 * $197) + (110,000 * 0.40 * $171) + (110,000 * 0.50 * 84) = $14,311,000.

Therefore, the Sales-volume variance = $14,311,000 – 13,075,000 = $1,236,000 F

Flex-budget variance = $11,968,000 – $14,311,000 = $2,343,000 U

No-name budget Sales-mix and Sales-quantity variances:

= Actual total units sold * budget sales mix * budget UCOST

= 110,000 * $130.75 = $14,382,500.

Flexible budget                                     No-name                              Static

$14,311,000                             $14,382,500                       $13,075,000


Standard Mix Variance = $71,500 U               Standard Quantity Variance = $1,307,500F

No-name budget to get the market-share and market-size variances:

= Actual mkt. Size * budget mkt. Share * budget average UCOST

= 500,000 * 0.25 * $130.75 = $16,343,750.



No- name                                 No- name                                   Static

$14,382,500                             $16,343,750                           $13,075,000


Market –share Variance = $1,961,250 U         Market Size Variance = $3,268,750 F

*The actual market share is taken as = 22%

The budgeted market share is taken as = 25%


The analysis can be further explained by the following points. These points will help to gain the crux of the formula analysis done above in respect of variance analysis & will help in the reporting to be made to the management.

  1. The total COST was $1,107,000, which was less than the figures expected.


  1. Buick COST exceeded budget by over $2M but the COST of other two games were lower than expected and offset. Lower unit sales of Chevrolet and lower COST of GMC.


  1. In case of the Sales mix, GMC sold less of the highest COST product.


  1. Buick gained both from an increase in sales mix and increase in number of units sold.


  1. There was a large drop in GMC’s UCOST, which lead to the overall drop in the average UCOST.


  1. GMC, selling price dropped severely but there was an increase in the Variable Cost


  1. The market share was actually lower by 3% à this is an unfavorable variance.


  1. The total market size increased à this is a favorable market size variance


  1. There has been a significant decrease in the average UCOST which is explained by the Flexible -budget variance which is the cumulative effect of the combination of the lower sales price and the higher cost incurred by the Company.


Recommendations & Conclusion

Thus, budgeting & performing the sales variance analysis is an effective mechanism for evaluating the results of the operations of a company. It helps the management to analyses the basic reasons for the deviations as the management is inevitably concerned with the factors which cause the deviations between the planned budget and the actual results achieved.

Sales are the key component for every business. The most important operating expenses, that is the highest expenses incurred are analyzed separately but the rest of the expenses are aggregated for the whole period until & unless the variance is unacceptably huge.

Therefore, such key variances should be computed by every company on a periodical basis of every month. This will eventually help the management to identify the major reasons of such variances & to initiate corrective actions in respect of such variances.





Variance analysis will lead to the achievement of the following objectives:

  • To provide information for economic decisions
  • To motivate managers and other employees
  • To justify costs or compute reimbursement
  • To measure income and assets for reporting to external parties

This will advocate in the allocation of the costs in proportion to the cost object’s ability to bear them.

The variance analysis can be also made in respect of the following costs:

  • Enterprise-related activities
  • Market-related activities
  • Channel-related activities
  • Customer-related active
  • Order-related activities
  • Parts-related activities
  • Direct materials


It is also very essential to develop the materiality thresholds for the different types of analyses to be performed by the management. Context is the most important factor which establishes the collateral relationship between the variance to the type of measurement.

Thus, recognizing the materiality threshold & the context of your analysis helps in recognizing the important variance levels and to examine & find the real cause and trends of such variances so that proper initiatives can be taken.. This important knowledge can be used to improve the future financial plans of the company.



Thus the best practices for doing the variance analysis are:

  • Analysis the information for the preparation by determining how to examine & compare the results so as to create the appropriate model..
  • Then, applying the materiality thresholds to determine the level at which variance is worth giving importance
  • Lastly, the cause analysis needs to be done so as to investigate the reason for the occurrence of such variances so as to use this information for planning and decision-making.

Thus, variance analysis framework helps in explaining such deviations. This helps in exercising proper managerial control on the company at large, making effective decision making & creating a brand value at large at the face of the world.














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