Zero Based Vs. Activity Based Budgeting

Zero Based Budgeting and Activity-Based Budgeting are the most popular budgeting methods. The selection of preferred budgeting method depends on the functioning and suitability of an organization. Before understanding the differences, let’s learn about zero-based vs. activity-based budgeting.

Meaning of Zero Based and Activity Based Budgeting

Zero-based budgeting method starts right from scratch. The current year’s budgets are prepared without considering the previous year’s budgets. The expenses incurred in each year must be justified. The vitality of projects determines the resource allocation. The aspect which is critical for the survival of a business and yields more profits gets the first priority.

Activity-based budgeting uses an activity-based costing methodology to prepare the budgets. It does not consider past year’s budgets to prepare the current year’s budget. Here, the budget is prepared after conducting the study of activities that incur the cost. The outcome of this research determines resource allocation.

Zero Based Vs. Activity Based Budgetingzbb vs abb

The following points highlight the points of difference between zero-based budgeting and activity-based budgeting.

Basis for Budget Preparation

Zero-based budgets are prepared right from the beginning without considering last year’s budget. This budgeting method allocates resources based on the needs and costs of the department. On the other hand, activity-based budgeting does not consider last year’s budget, but the resources are allocated on the basis of efficiencies in business operations.

Resource Allocation

In zero-based budgeting, the ranking of activities of the business is on the basis of their vitality. Only after the expenses incurred are justified resources allocation happen towards an activity. On the other hand, in the case of activity-based budgeting, after justifying the cost drivers, the departments allocate the resources.

Wasteful Expenses

Zero-based budgeting reconsiders all the business activities every year and allocates money only to those activities that justify the expense. Hence, eliminating unnecessary activities results in cost savings. In activity-based budgeting, analysis of each business function takes place, keeping in view the functions and goals of the business. It eliminates those functions that do not go well with any other function. Hence, it leads to further cost-saving.

In zero-based budgeting, revaluation of the programs is done. That becomes the base for resource allocation. On the other hand, activity-based budgeting allocates resources after recording the relationship of business functions with the business objectives.

Potential Profitability

Zero-based budgeting is based on the justification given for each expense related to an activity. It does not lead to determining the potential profitability of the business. At the same time, activity-based budgeting aligns business activities with goals. This helps to know the potential profitability.

zero based budgeting VS activity based budgeting


Zero-based budgeting is function-oriented, whereas activity-based budgeting is activity-oriented.

Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

MBA-Finance, CMA, CS, Insolvency Professional, B'Com

Sanjay Borad, Founder of eFinanceManagement, is a Management Consultant with 7 years of MNC experience and 11 years in Consultancy. He caters to clients with turnovers from 200 Million to 12,000 Million, including listed entities, and has vast industry experience in over 20 sectors. Additionally, he serves as a visiting faculty for Finance and Costing in MBA Colleges and CA, CMA Coaching Classes.

4 thoughts on “Zero Based Vs. Activity Based Budgeting”

  1. The article is well organized. I visit the author has
    a real knack for this subject. I like that theme, and
    I’m in constant search of new pieces and the latest news.
    I truly enjoyed that one, since it’s filled with fascinating facts and
    it is a kind of article. I spent just a few minutes reading,
    and because of well-structured text, so I know it
    totally. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for sharing your ideas! There are, however, some disadvantages in regards to practice.
    Once I was a school student, I thought how one ought to tackle this matter but I’d constantly encounter some questionable responses: go google it or even ask a friend.
    What if my friends don’t have sufficient knowledge or
    experience to assist me? What if I googled it multiple times and couldn’t find the answer?
    That is when articles such as this you can give appropriate
    guidance on the issue.


Leave a Comment