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Financial Analysis for Business Performance: Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting

Learn how to conduct financial-performance analysis, forecasting and budgetary planning.

Someone pointing at a screen which has some charts on it.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Strong skills in budgeting and planning are in demand for a variety of roles - whether you’re interested in starting a career as an accountant, business analyst, or consultant, or even if you want to start your own business and need to manage these areas yourself.

This course provides an introduction to financial analysis, showing you the main tools that you have in order to start analysing and optimising for business performance. You will learn to find your way around a balance sheet, understand financial performance analysis, and determine which analysis tools to use for each.

Demonstrate how planning and budgeting help meet business goals

Countless businesses fail because of a poor grasp of their financials, and a lack of proper analysis when making key business decisions. You’ll explore the key function and purpose of business planning and budgeting, and how they contribute towards business goals.

Build your skills in financial analysis

Financial analysis includes interpretation of a business’ financial statements to diagnose profitability, helping the business to make sound decisions with full knowledge of its performance, expected revenue, and margins. You’ll learn to differentiate and deploy different analysis tools to provide business insights.

Create a set of business performance metrics to inform your work

Putting your knowledge into practice, you’ll perform and interpret key analyses to create a set of performance metrics to inform business planning and operations.


  • Week 1

    Introduction to the course and financial analysis

    • Welcome to the course

      Introduction and welcome to the course.

    • Introduction to planning, budgeting and forecasting (PBF)

      This activity is an introduction to the fundamentals of financial planning, and will set the context for the rest of the course.

    • Fundamentals of effective budgeting

      In this activity we’ll learn about the fundamentals of effective budgeting.

    • Week 1 wrap-up

      To complete the week, let’s discuss and recap the learning outcomes for the week.

  • Week 2

    Financial planning

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Introduction to Week 2.

    • Fundamentals of effective forecasting

      In this activity, we’ll explore the fundamentals of effective forecasting and provide you with an understanding of the role and function of forecasting, and types of organisational forecasts.

    • Technology driven success

      This activity introduces you to fintech, what it is, and why it has become prevalent. You’ll also learn about some cloud-based technologies for real-time reporting and continuous improvement.

    • Effective planning, budgeting and forecasting in the digital age

      In this activity, you’ll learn about the key concepts for the success of effective planning, budgeting, and forecasting, and the most common techniques required to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the PBF process.

    • Week 2 wrap-up

      To complete the week, test your knowledge and recap the learning outcomes for the week.

  • Week 3

    Analysis tools for business insights

    • Introduction

      Introduction to Week 3.

    • What is financial analysis?

      In this activity, you will be introduced to financial analysis, its value, use, and common reporting mechanisms.

    • Types of financial analysis (Part 1)

      In this activity, you will learn in greater detail how to prepare different types of financial statements and gain an understanding of financial analysis. You will also learn about the basics and analysis of the Balance Sheet.

    • Week 3 wrap-up

      To complete the week, let’s discuss and recap the learning outcomes for the week.

  • Week 4

    Business planning and operations

    • Introduction

      Introduction to Week 4.

    • Types of financial analysis (Part 2)

      In this activity, you will learn in greater detail how to conduct financial analysis using common size financial statements and financial ratios.

    • Set financial targets and performance metrics

      In this activity, we explore how to set financial targets and performance metrics which ensure that businesses meet their financial goals.

    • Week 4 wrap-up

      To complete the week, let’s discuss and recap the learning outcomes for the week.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain the key function and purpose of financial planning and budgeting, and how they contribute to various business goals
  • Explain the key function and purpose of financial performance analysis
  • Determine the appropriate use case of key analysis tools to provide required business insights
  • Perform and interpret key analyses, creating a set of performance metrics to inform business planning and operations

Who is the course for?

This course is designed to support learners who need to engage with large volumes of financial data. This includes entry-level finance or accounting professionals who would like to progress to higher-skill positions, and current finance professionals. It would also be useful for new managers and leaders, as well as business workers and entrepreneurs.

What software or tools do you need?

During this course we’ll be using Excel. If you don’t have Excel, you might find this online version useful.

We recommend you use a computer to access this course.

Who will you learn with?

Commercially focused Finance Director / CFO with experience working with fast growth online SMEs in different sectors, including two successful exits (Amazon acquisition & Funding Circle’s IPO)

Who developed the course?


FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform and has been providing high quality online courses for learners around the world over the last ten years.

In collaboration with

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Endorsers and supporters

endorsed by

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Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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