We are currently going through a series of blogs on the types of statements which are more relevant to planning than the traditional financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, cash flow). In the past, we looked at the Revenue Statement and the Operations Statement. In this blog, we will look at another one of the documents to use in their place—the Overhead Statement.
The purpose of the Overhead Statement is to provide a strategic framework for understanding corporate overhead. “Overhead” consists of those activities NOT directly related to producing or marketing/selling what you sell. These are already covered in the operation and revenue statements (mentioned in earlier blogs).
Yes, the income statement also has lines describing various costs related to overhead. However, the income statement doesn’t tell you why these numbers were chosen and what the strategies are to reach these numbers. That’s why I designed the Overhead Statement.
Since there are so many different types of business models out there, the overhead statement would need to be tweaked a bit to fit each type of industry. But a rough example can be seen in the figure below.
1) The Baseline
The first part of the Overhead Statement is used to determine the baseline. This is what overhead costs would be if nothing changed and there were no new strategic initiatives.
As a result, the baseline is more or less a continuation of what you have done in the past.
2) Strategic Changes to Overhead
Over time, one’s overhead structure can become outdated. This could be due to internal factors like a change in the company’s business portfolio. Or it could be due to external factors, like new technologies or new approaches to management. Either way, change is change, and if you don’t change, your overhead will not be as efficient or as effective as it could be.
Strategies will be needed to determine how best to change and adapt the overhead. That is why the second part of the Overhead Statement looks at the impact of strategic goals on operations.
a) Cost Control (Becoming More Efficient): One of the simplest strategic goals is to reduce the cost of overhead. If that is a goal, then you would place here what the cost control strategy is and how much you expect it to lower overhead expenses (by individual overhead line). Some of these cost reductions may require up-front capital investments. This amount gets transferred to the Investment Statement (which we will talk about in a later blog). If you plan on using the cost reductions to support price reductions, then those price reductions would be reflected on the Revenue Statement.
b) Management Improvement (Becoming More Effective): There are lots of ways to improve the effectiveness of one’s overhead. This might include delayering (or adding layers). Or it could be a major reorganization. Or it could be technology and system improvements. Or maybe it includes outsourcing a function. Whatever the strategy to improve overhead effectiveness, it needs to be captured. In this section, one would explain what the strategy is and how it impacts the overhead. Then, the incremental overhead costs associated with each strategy would be calculated and listed by line item.
If there are any ripple effects from these changes to overhead that would impact sales or operations, those changes would be transferred to the revenue and operations statements. This is highly likely, since one would typically not change overhead unless it improved these other areas. Similarly, if the changes to overhead required major capital investments, you would want to transfer that cost to the investment statement.
c) Compliance: Sometimes, you just have to change the way you do things in order to remain compliant with the ever-changing regulatory environment. You would capture the overhead impacts from that here as well.
3) Net Results
The third and final section looks at the net impact of the first two sections on overhead expenses. Basically, you take the baseline overhead expenses (by line) and add to it changes from cost reductions, management improvement, and compliance. The end result is your estimated costs per overhead line item for baseline PLUS changes.
The benefits from using an Overhead Statement are as follows:
- It proactively links all of your strategies to specific overhead activities.
- It quantifies how the implementation of each strategy will impact the costs of overhead.
- It separates all of the components of strategy, so that you can critique each one for reasonableness.
- It separates overhead issues to its own document, making it easier for those in charge of overhead to see what they are being held responsible for.
- It forces one to consider issues beyond cost control when looking at changes to overhead.
To more comprehensively understand the operations portion of a strategic plan, it is recommended that some form of an Overhead Statement be used. An Overhead Statement has three sections:
- Calculation of Baseline Overhead
- Calculating Impact of Strategic Initiatives on Overhead
- Net Results
Overhead might not be the most exciting part of the business, but it is an important part of the business. A little bit of strategic effort in this