It’s that time of year again when you are reviewing your customer’s active budget plan. If you are finding that they are not in line with where they should be, there are a few explanations as to why this could be the case.  For example, perhaps it’s been unseasonably cold, making customer usage high and as a result, the original budget estimates were too low.  Or you may notice that customers enrolled in a budget plan are carrying large debit balances and getting in over their heads. Of course it could also be the other way around where the weather has been mild and credit balances are growing larger.  Thus, this may be the perfect time to use the budget recalculation screen and adjust the budget plans before things really get out of hand.

You may wonder when the right time is for recalculating your budget plans. The answer is that there is no right or wrong time. You can recalculate your budgets as many times as you want and whenever you feel it is necessary. It is a good idea to periodically run budget reports to have an idea where your budget customers stand which will help you decide if it’s a good time to run a recalculation. If you are planning on doing a budget recalculation, we recommend you do it prior to running your end of month process. This way, your budget plans can be adjusted before your statements are sent out. You can then place a notice on your statements that budgets have been adjusted and to please contact you with any questions.

In Ignite, there are two methods available when running your budget recalculation. The simple method allows you to increase or decrease all budgets across the board based on the percentage you choose. NOTE: When you use the simple method, you will not have a chance to review the budgets before they are updated; they will be recalculated as soon as you click on the ‘Recalculate Budget Plans’ button.

The advanced method is more innovative in that it will increase or decrease a customer’s budget plan based on the criteria that you enter. It takes into account how much fuel the customer will burn until the end of the budget season (based on the customer’s current K factor and how many DDays are remaining). You will get a chance to review the results and make any changes before updating the budget plans from here.

Some good budget practices that we find work well for our customers are:

  • Have all your budgets with the same end date to make budget recalculation easier. This is helpful because when running the budget recalculation mid-season, when using the ‘Advanced Method’, you need to input what your total DDays will be at the end of the budget plan in order for Ignite to run the proper calculations. If your budget plans end with different dates, the recalculation process will take longer to complete as you will need to run a separate recalculation for customers that have different Budget Ending dates.
  • Run budget reports regularly to assure they are on target. These can be found in the ‘Customer Reports’ category and then the ‘Budget Customer Reports’ section. It is good to run these reports to see if customers have large debit or credit balances, then you will know some adjusting needs to be done. You can also run a ‘Budget Customers Behind in Payments’ report to send letters to customers that have fallen behind in their payments.
  • When reviewing the results of the recalculation, be sure to update the budgets as close as possible to when you run the recalculation. If you wait too long between the time of the recalculation and the time you update the budgets, many account changes could take place, for example, a customer could get a delivery or make a payment.
  • Notify your customers of possible budget changes on their statements by using the ‘Report Message’ feature located in ‘Setup Tables.

Don’t let budget recalculation intimidate you!  There is thorough process documentation in our help guide – press F1 from Ignite and search ‘Budget Recalculation.’ You will find ‘Budget Recalculation Mid-Season’ and another for the ‘Budget Recalculation Screen.’ As always, if you still have questions, please feel free to contact support!