QS Study

The concept of Zero Base Control

Zero Base Control is a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period. Zero-based budgeting starts from a “zero base” and every function within an organization are analyzed for its needs and costs. Budgets are then built around what is needed for the upcoming period, regardless of whether the budget is higher or lower than the previous one. ZBB allows top-level strategic goals to be implemented into the budgeting process by tying them to specific functional areas of the organization, where costs can be first grouped, then measured against previous results and current expectations.

Criticism of zero-based budgeting focuses on the practical difficulties of implementation, and on the fact that it is very time-consuming. Unlike the traditional (incremental) budgeting in which past sales and expenditure trends are assumed to continue, ZBB requires each activity to be justified on the basis of cost-benefit analysis, assumes that no present commitment exists and that there is no balance to be carried forward. By forcing the activities to be ranked according to priority, ZBB provides a systematic basis for resource allocation. The main problem of zero-based budgeting is the extremely high level of effort required to investigate and document department activities.