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Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB)

Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB)

What Is Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB)?

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period. The course of zero-based budgeting begins from a "zero base," and each function within an organization is dissected for its requirements and costs. The budgets are then worked around what is required for the upcoming period, whether or not each budget is higher or lower than the previous one.

How Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) Works

In business, ZBB permits top-level strategic objectives to be executed into the budgeting system by tying them to specific functional areas of the organization, where costs can be first grouped and afterward estimated against previous outcomes and current expectations.

As a result of its meticulous nature, zero-based budgeting might be a rolling cycle done more than several years, with a couple of functional areas surveyed at an at once or group leaders. Zero-based budgeting can assist with lowering costs by avoiding blanket increases or diminishes to a prior period's budget. It is, in any case, a tedious cycle that takes significantly longer than traditional, cost-based budgeting.

The practice likewise leans toward areas that accomplish direct revenues or production, as their contributions are more effectively justifiable than in departments, for example, client service and research and development.

Zero-based budgeting, fundamentally utilized in business, can be utilized by individuals and families, too.

Zero-Based Budgeting versus Traditional Budgeting

Traditional budgeting calls for incremental increases over previous budgets, like a 2% increase in spending, rather than a justification of both old and new expenses, as called for with zero-based budgeting.

Traditional budgeting likewise just breaks down just new expenditures, while ZBB begins from zero and calls for a justification of old, recurring expenses notwithstanding new expenditures. Zero-based budgeting plans to put the onus on managers to justify expenses and expects to drive value for an organization by optimizing costs and not just revenue.

Illustration of Zero-Based Budgeting

Assume a construction equipment company carries out a zero-based budgeting process calling for nearer scrutiny of manufacturing department expenses. The company sees that the cost of certain parts utilized in its final products and moved to another manufacturer increases by 5% consistently. The company can make those parts in-house using its workers. Subsequent to weighing the up-sides and negatives of in-house manufacturing, the company finds it can make the parts more efficiently than the outside provider.

Instead of blindly increasing the budget by a certain percentage and masking the cost increase, the company can recognize a situation where it can choose to make the part itself or buy the part from the outer provider for its final results.

Traditional budgeting may not permit cost drivers within departments to be recognized. Zero-based budgeting is a more granular cycle that means to distinguish and justify expenditures. In any case, zero-based budgeting is additionally more involved, so the costs of the cycle itself must be weighed against the savings it might recognize.


  • Zero-based budgeting is a technique utilized by companies, yet this type of budgeting can be utilized by individuals and families.
  • Zero-based budgeting assists managers with tackling lower costs in a company.
  • Budgets are made around the monetary requirements for each upcoming period, similar to a month.
  • Traditional budgeting and zero-based budgeting are two methods used to follow expenditures.


What Are the Disadvantages of Zero-Based Budgeting?

Zero-based budgeting has a number of impediments. To start with, it is ideal and asset intensive. Since another budget is developed every period, the time cost involved may not be advantageous. Instead, using a modified budget layout might demonstrate more beneficial. Second, it might reward short-term points of view in the company by allocating more resources to operations with the highest revenues. In turn, areas like research and development, or those that have a long-term horizon, may get neglected.

What Is Zero-Based Budgeting?

Zero-based budgeting originated in the 1960s by former Texas Instruments account manager Peter Pyhrr. Not at all like traditional budgeting, zero-based budgeting begins at zero, justifying every individual expense for a reporting period. Zero-based budgeting begins without any preparation, analyzing each granular need of the company, instead of incremental budgeting increases found in traditional budgeting, Essentially, this considers a strategic, top-down approach to examine the performance of a given project.

What Are the Advantages of Zero-Based Budgeting?

As an accounting practice, zero-based budgeting offers a number of benefits including centered operations, lower costs, budget flexibility, and strategic execution. At the point when managers think about how every dollar is spent, the highest revenue-generating operations come into greater concentration. In the interim, brought down costs might result as zero-based budgeting might forestall the misallocation of resources that might occur over the long haul when a budget develops incrementally.