Deciding how to efficiently distribute limited financial resources is an important challenge in all organizations. In most large and complex organizations, this task would be nearly impossible were it not for budget analysts. These professionals play the primary role in the development, analysis, and execution of budgets, which are used to allocate current resources and estimate future financial requirements..
Budget analysts can be found in private industry, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector. In private sector firms, a budget analyst examines, analyzes, and seeks new ways to improve efficiency and increase profits. Although analysts working in nonprofit and governmental organizations usually are not concerned with profits, they still try to find the most efficient distribution of funds and other resources among various departments and programs.
Budget analysts have many responsibilities in these organizations, but their primary task is providing advice and technical assistance in the preparation of annual budgets. At the beginning of each budget cycle, managers and department heads submit proposed operational and financial plans to budget analysts for review. These plans outline expected programs, including proposed monetary increases and new initiatives, estimated costs and expenses, and capital expenditures needed to finance these programs.
Analysts examine the budget estimates or proposals for completeness, accuracy, and conformance with established procedures, regulations, and organizational objectives. Sometimes, they employ cost-benefit analysis to review financial requests, assess program trade-offs, and explore alternative funding methods. They also examine past and current budgets and research economic and financial developments that affect the organization's spending.