This guide is for senior finance leaders in government departments and other public bodies. It sets out the first stage in the financial management lifecycle: strategic planning and budgeting. Planning in a strategic and realistic way gives organisations the best chance to thrive – to help inform trade-offs and operate in an effective and efficient way.

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The guide outlines how finance leaders can plan strategically and realistically to:

  • Align strategy and planning
  • Make planning inclusive
  • Plan dynamically
  • Address optimism bias
  • Deal with risk and uncertainty

We have drawn insights from our reports, the experiences of our audit teams, and the thoughts of a range of senior finance decision‑makers.

How to use this guide

We’ve used quotes and case studies from our audited bodies to illustrate the different areas. You can read the guide in one go or just dip into it during your planning and budgeting process.

Our insights are not mandatory guidance but will complement existing guidance provided to finance teams across government.

Please note: the PDF has some interactivity that will not work in full-screen mode on your browser. To view it in full-screen mode, download the PDF to your computer and open it in Adobe Acrobat.

Financial management in government series

This guide is part of a series supporting financial management in government. We have also published:

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