Stripped down to its most basic form, a budget is little more than a projection of what should happen financially during the course of a specific period based on previous history, current data, and an educated forecast of what will take place in the future. In the modern enterprise, a good budgetary system is a living organism that adjusts as circumstances change. However, the accuracy of these adjustments depends on the quality of the financial data collected during the budget period. This is where a strong set of data collection tools can make all the difference.

Many users prefer to collect and track budgetary data using Excel worksheets because they’re easy to set up and use, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Numerous budget-related Excel templates are out there–you just have to be willing to search for them. These templates are often good starting points for developing budget tracking tools customized for your enterprise, your department, and your particular situation.

SEE: IT budgeting: How to do it right (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Here is a list of helpful budget-related Excel templates. It’s just a sample of the templates and worksheets you can find online (and many are free), but it will give you an idea of what’s available. Out of all the potential choices, there are bound to be at least one or two you can use as a basis for your financial budget reporting tasks.

Microsoft Office templates

Microsoft offers dozens of customizable Office templates to help you be more productive when using its software. More than a few of these are Excel templates tailored to track financial budgets. The best way to find these templates is by starting a new Excel worksheet and searching through the list of available templates. You can also find these templates (and more) online. Here are some highlights.

1. Business expense report

One of the most common budget reporting activities in any enterprise is the business travel expense report. To get reimbursed for travel expenses, each employee must submit a detailed accounting of expenditures. This template, though simple to fill out, can save you time and remove the frustration often associated with tracking expenses during a business trip.

2. Profit and loss statement

Whether it’s at the department level or covering the entire enterprise, calculating profit and loss and presenting it in a cogent financial statement is fundamental to the budgetary process. This Excel template will use your data input to calculate both the actual and the budget revenues and expenses for the period in question. Through conditional formatting, it will even highlight problem areas for you.

SEE: New equipment budget policy (Tech Pro Research)

3. Activity-based cost tracker

When manufacturing a product, managers must determine how much it costs to produce each unit. The activity-based cost tracker template will give you a visual representation of the direct, indirect, general, and administrative costs associated with production. The template will also track the cost of each unit and help you adjust the budget plan when costs or other factors fluctuate.

4. Simple invoice

Speaking of revenue collection, one of the most desired templates in small business circles is one for the invoice. Something as simple as an Excel template that can automatically calculate the proper subtotals and totals can save a small business important time it can’t afford to lose. You can customize this basic template in mere minutes with your logo and company data so that you can quickly begin invoicing your customers and ultimately collecting revenues.

Tech Pro Research (subscription required)

TechRepublic’s premium sister site, Tech Pro Research, offers dozens of policies, templates, and tools. Several budget-related Excel templates stand out from the rest:

5. Year-round IT budget template

This download is a staple of Tech Pro Research’s set of helpful tools and templates. The Year-round IT budget Excel template will help you track spending, monitor unplanned purchases, categorize expenses, and record key data, like recurring payments, contract end dates, and the cost of new hires. It is simple to use and easy to customize for your enterprise needs.

6. Systems downtime expense calculator

For an IT administrator managing an enterprise network, there is very little in this world more traumatic than network downtime. The loss in enterprise productivity alone could accumulate thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars in costs in a short period of time. Those costs, no matter how much they turn out to be, must be calculated and accounted for. This is where the Systems Downtime Expense Calculator can help. It’s an Excel template that will help you place a dollar amount on your network downtime.

7. Computer Hardware Depreciation Calculator

When dealing with an expensive piece of IT equipment, managers must determine how much of the overall cost should be expensed for each year of its useful life. This is the very definition of depreciation. However, the rate of depreciation is not as simple as dividing the cost by the useful years–there are many accepted depreciation methods to consider. This Excel worksheet will calculate depreciation for your equipment using the most common methods; you just need to choose the one that applies to your enterprise.

In the end

Of course, you could always take the time to create these Excel templates from scratch, but is that really the best use of your time? Someone has already done the work for you, so it only makes sense to take advantage of these templates.

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Other templates?

Have you come across additional templates that shave time off your budgeting tasks? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic member.