Budget vs. Actuals

This guide will help you set up and automate your Budget vs. Actuals process in Causal.

Video guide

Once you’ve set a plan for your company, you’ll want to track how you’re performing against that plan on a regular (usually monthly) basis. This process is typically called “Budget vs Actuals”.

Causal makes it easy to save your plan (or “budget”) and compare it against your performance (”actuals”) automatically.

1. Setting your budget

Your budget will be saved as a Version in Causal, which can then be added to charts/tables.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your model reflects the numbers that you want to save as your budget. There are 2 main ways you can do this:

  • Driver-based: set some high-level assumptions, and generate the monthly values using formulas that reflect how your business works
  • Hardcoded: manually enter the monthly values for each line item

Once the numbers in your model reflect your budget, create a new Version:

  1. Click on the “Versions” button in the top-right of the screen
  2. Enter a name for your budget, e.g. “2024 Budget”
  3. Click “Save Version”

2. Connecting to actuals

Connect each variable in your budget to a data item (or set of data items) from your data source(s):

  1. Connect your data sources to Causal
  2. Click on the “+ Data” button to the right of the variable name
  3. Select the data items that you want to connect to the variable

Once that’s done, then you should confirm that the “Last Actuals Date” is set to wherever you have data available until:

  1. Click on the time settings in the top right of the screen
  2. Click on ‘Data’
  3. Make sure that ‘Last actual date’ is toggled on, with the date set

3. Creating a BvA table

Now that your budget has been saved and your actuals are connected, you can create a table to compare your budget against the actuals:

  1. Select the variables that you want to include in your table — use CMD+Click or Shift+Click to multi-select
  2. Right click on one of the selected variables, and click on Create Chart > Table
  3. Scroll down to your newly created table in the charts sidebar on the right-hand side of the screen, and click on ‘Edit’ in the top right of the table
  4. Navigate to the “Columns” section of the table settings, click the “+” button, and select “Versions”
  5. There should be a new “Versions” item in the Columns list. Click on it.
  6. Set the ‘Base version’ to be your budget, and click the “+” button next to ‘Additional versions’ and add ‘Actuals version’. Make sure ‘show variance’ is toggled on.

Feel free to customise the rest of the table to create the Budget vs Actuals view that’s most useful to you and your team.

4. Rolling your model forwards

Each month (or whatever granularity your model is), you should pull in the new actuals so you can compare them against your budget. This is usually called “rolling forwards”.

To roll forwards in Causal, all you have to do is click the ‘Last actuals’ button in the spreadsheet header, and then select the month that you’d like to roll forwards to.

When you do this, Causal will prompt you to refresh the data sources connected to the model. You can do this by leaving the default settings in the modal and clicking ‘Apply’ — this will refresh all data sources connected to the model.