Actual vs. Budgeted Reports: customize date range and get comparisons (Q Mac) (13 Legacy Votes)

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Comments

  • tkabdou
    tkabdou Member ✭✭
    > @jacobs said:
    >... In the past few months, they've been working on adding budget features ...

    The past few months? How many developers are working on recreating this report from the Windows version to the Mac version? Clearly the logic already exists which means that the requirements are available and given that the report already exists in Windows, testing the Mac report against the Windows report should be fairly straight forward -- you add the same data into both versions, run each report and compare the results. So if the requirements and logic exist and testing is relatively easy then what is the hold up?

    For crying out loud, I created an Access database that imports the data from Quicken and created the report myself in a matter of hours. I would still prefer a report from Quicken so I don't have to export, import and run my own report -- this way, I can also get rid of my older Windows machine which I'm only keeping because MS Access doesn't run on Macs!

    Again, I urge Quicken to put some priority on this request!!!
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    The Quicken and Mac databases are so distinctly architecturally different that the existence of a feature like this in Quicken Windows is of no help in implementing it in Quicken Mac. 

    The Mac development team is relatively small, and the program is quite complex in parts, so developing new features that seem like they should be quick often takes longer than anyone (including the developers) would wish. And they are always juggling among the hundreds of feature requests users are clamoring for, so there often isn't an obvious path towards new features being added.

    Worse, the developers sometimes don't understand the problem fully. In this case, there turns out to have been miscommunication between the moderators of this site in categorizing this feature request and the development team; this idea thread was originally marked as implemented, because there is an actual versus budget report. For some unexplained reason, though, the fact that that the existing report isn't useful except on the last day of each month wasn't on the developers' radar. Oof! That's a bad miss. It's been brought to the attention of the product manager, and hopefully it's firmly on their radar now. 

    Finally, I'd just note that imploring Quicken to act quickly in a thread like this on the community forum unfortunately doesn't have much impact, because the developers rarely read these threads.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tkabdou
    tkabdou Member ✭✭
    I feel for you @jacobs as you seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, you appear to be a moderator for a forum that is created by Quicken (i.e. community.quicken.com) yet on the other hand, you don't get the support that is needed to take action.

    Having been in the Software Development/Engineering world for many years, I get the fact developers don't look at this forum -- I wouldn't expect my teams to do that either as work should flow in through the properly established intake process. I get that... HOWEVER, I'm surprised a company as big as Quicken is relying on the developers without any direction from leadership. I'm also surprised that this forum is created under the Quicken domain yet the feedback provided here has no influence on how Quicken prioritizes work -- what is the point of this forum then?

    As for the infrastructure differences between Macs and PCs; I totally get it. The concern I have is that there should be no misunderstanding by the developers as to what is needed. At a minimum, replicate the functionality that currently exists for the Windows version -- getting those requirements from the PC team should not be a problem (one would hope). If it is a problem then IT leadership (not developers) should take a second look at their culture and ensure that teams talk to each other.

    Your replies are always appreciated and for all our sakes, I wish you the best of luck in advancing our requests (summarized below):

    1. For a specific month, generate a report that shows (with subtotal and grand total lines):
    a) Budgeted Category
    b) Budgeted Amount
    c) Actual Amount Spent (or deposited, if income)
    d) The difference (over/under) for each line item

    There should be another section that shows the categories that were not in the budget but money was spent (or deposited if income).

    By doing this, one will know for each month if they went over their budget or if they actually saved money.

    2. Same as above but allow a date range similar to the "Net Worth Over Time" report selection criteria (i.e. From MM/YY To MM/YY)

    At any rate, I appreciate the discussion and hope that this comes to a resolution soon and again, best of luck!

    Thanks!

    P.S. I don't mean to speak on behalf of everyone else -- this is just my understanding of what others (and me) are asking for. Others can add their own thoughts as well.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @tkabdou  Thanks for your extensive note. I just wanted to clarify that I am a fellow Quicken user, and not a moderator on this forum. (Moderators are all Quicken employees, and I am not.) For those of us who post here frequently helping other Quicken users, Quicken designates some of us as "SuperUsers", which gives us access to a few minor functionality differences on this forum, and a private channel/category where we can chat in private. We aren't officially customer advocates, nor do we have any special standing in terms of getting features implemented in the software, and we're free to express our own opinions (including complaints with the company or the software).
    I'm also surprised that this forum is created under the Quicken domain yet the feedback provided here has no influence on how Quicken prioritizes work -- what is the point of this forum then?
    That's not correct. The forum does play a role in influencing the work of the developers -- it can just be a bit disconnected, unresponsive at times, and slow to get results. The Idea thread on this site, which allow for user voting, are specially designed to gather comments and votes to influence future development work. The path from here to there can feel frustrating, though. Ideas first need to garner some amount of enthusiasm from customers; it's not a strict vote number (e.g. topics over 'x' votes are considered and those below are not), but topics that get few comments or votes are not likely to be advanced.

    Once an Idea here has crossed that nebulous threshold, the team of Quicken moderators here can submit an idea to some sort of development review committee. I don't know the makeup of that group, but assume there are people from various teams at Quicken, from developers to marketing, who have input. In many cases, and idea may seem pretty basic or obvious on the surface, but in order to move forward, it has to be evaluated in terms of how much time it is estimated to take, which developer skills are needed (e.g. changes to the database? user interface? external connectivity?), and then how it fits in with other planned work.

    For instance, awhile back, no enhancements were made to Quicken Mac budgets at all because the separate Quicken Mobile development team had to re-write some of the code involving budgets for the mobile app/web interface, and the Mac team didn't want to have to re-do work to stay compatible with the mobile group's work. In other cases, they might group together several requested enhancements that touch the same part of the program code rather than jumping around and coming back to modify certain parts of the code multiple times within a short period of time. And not everything is driven by just the Idea posts on this site. The developers get feedback from the Quicken Support teams about where users are encountering problems; they monitor social media channels; they sometimes conduct surveys of certain groups of users. All of those inputs have influence on how they prioritize work -- we're just not able to see the inner workings or view the ever-changing roadmap.

    In terms of Mac versus Windows, I don't think the Mac product team agrees that their starting point is replicating the functionality that currently exists for the Windows version. There are things in the Windows version which don't work well; there are things which are very complex because they've been created and modified and added to over decades and where it would be both dubious and of questionable value to try to replicate exactly; there are things which were created years and years ago which they know (from program analytics) or believe aren't utilized by many users and aren't worth replicating. Since they started the modern Quicken Mac, the model has been to deliver core functionality users are asking for and iterate on it as needed to get it to where it's solid/stable/complete/satisfies most users' needs.

    You can certainly disagree with their development approach, but it's my impression that they do not view Quicken Windows as sacrosanct and an exact model to emulate; they align with what Quicken Windows does where it makes sense to do so, or where they must (for example, where QMac and QWin both need to work with the single mobile app) -- but they also approach things with fresh eyes and ask "how's the best way to do this" rather than simply emulating something which may have been built 15 or 20 years ago. And, where there's a specific Mac-like way to do things, they make it function like Mac users would expect, not like a port of a Windows program.

    Take an area of the program like reports. When the new Quicken Mac came out as Quicken 2015, it was built on the code base of Quicken Essentials, a 2010 program that was the first attempt at a modern re-write of Quicken for the Mac. The reports in that Essentials software was pretty limited, and it used an architecture that was probably a shortcut to build but not very robust in terms of expandability or user configurability. With Quicken 2015, the emphasis was on modernizing some of the technology behind the scenes to keep up with changes from Apple and adding investment tracking, a whole area missing from Quicken Essentials. Reports were basically untouched. But it was clear a major overhaul was needed to satisfy users used to Quicken 2007 and Quicken Windows reports.

    That work to build a new reports engine and user interface has spanned large parts of the past four years, starting with the first iteration of the new reports in early 2017 and still ongoing today. The reports are light years better than where we began, and are pretty robust now in many areas. But they still haven't completed building out the feature set; we still can't specify secondary sorts or subtotals, or show subtotals under taster than over the data they total. There's some reporting for investments from the Portfolio window, but no pre-built and customizable investment reports.

    And, of course, there is the area of budget report(s), where users are clamoring for such seemingly simple features as user-defined date ranges (so the existing report isn't accurate on only the last day of each month) and the more complex features like rollover of over/under spending to future months and the ability to show unbudgeted income/expenses on the budget report. I hope -- and believe -- all these things will arrive some day, but have no idea how the pieces fit together in their development plan, and what features we will get to see when. To me, it seems apparent that the user-entered date range is the most pressing of those needs; it actually seems like an oversight that has only recently come into focus, and hopefully one that will have a reasonably fast resolution.

    Sorry to be so long-winded! Hopefully some of this makes sense and helps add some insights.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Eljojo
    Eljojo Member
    I want to have a report that compares the monthly budget with the monthly expenses. I can not find a report ? I just subscribed with a Mac Version. In my old version it was possible to create that kind of report. Thank you in advance for your help.
  • System
    System Member ✭✭✭✭
    This discussion was created from comments split from: Zero out a Budget.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @Eljojo  Budget reporting is somewhat limited in Quicken Mac -- thus this long Idea thread asking for improvements -- but the key to know is that you can print reports from your budget, not from Reports.

    The most comprehensive report is selecting to print the 12-month budget; if you're really interested in just one month, it may be easier to export to a .csv file, open in Numbers or Excel, and quickly delete the other columns. This also allows you to format, rearrange or sub-total as you wish. The major shortcoming of this report is that the Year-To-Date column always uses the current month, which is pretty meaningless unless you run it on the last day or two of the month; there's no way to tell it to give you YTD through the end of the previous month. (You could build your own YTD total over whatever time period you want if you export to a spreadsheet, but obviously this entails more work.)

    Alternatively, you can switch to the one-month budget and select Print from the File menu (there's no Print button on the screen); this is an old-style report from a predecessor program that has not been modernized to match the current reports, so there is no user-customizability of this report.

    Make sure you go to the first post in this thread and add your vote for improving the budget report by clicking the little gray arrow under the vote counter!
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • shakafamily
    shakafamily Member
    I'm a long time Quicken user (1987). Now i use the Mac version. I need the budget report that compares budget and actuals in the date range set by the user. Please add. I cannot believe I'm the only one wanting/needing this. Austin
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    There is an existing Idea thread for this important feature. Please add your vote for it!
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • LL2
    LL2 Member
    @Jacobs: Does Quicken have budget vs actual reporting on their development timeline? If so, when is the planned release date? - tx
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @LL2  I wish I could tell you what's on the developers' roadmap, and which features are scheduled to be released when. Alas, none of us here -- and no one outside the Quicken development team -- knows their plans.

    They rarely pre-announce future features, even when they're things like this which seem an obvious addition to the software. This is largely because they sometimes don't know how long it will take to implement a feature, or if unexpected complications will prolong their best estimate, or if problems will surface during testing that send them back to do more work. so they just don't say what they're working on, or when things are expected.

    Actually, I'll amend that: in some cases, Idea threads like this receive a status of "Planned", which tells us that the developers have agreed to implement the requested feature. Unfortunately, it still gives no clue as to time frame. There are some "Planned" ideas which have been in that status for two years or more; there are others which come to fruition much more quickly.

    Now, for my speculation on this particular issue… ;)  This seems such a fundamental need to make the budget features work that I can think of only two explanations why it hasn't been done yet.

    (1) The developers simply don't understand what's missing or why it's important. This may seem hard to believe, since the existing budget-versus-actual report is only accurate 12 days out of the year, the last day of every month. But if the members of the development team don't use Quicken for their personal finances or don't use the budget features, it's possible they just don't get it. That's where an Idea thread like this comes in: a place for users to explain to the developers what's missing, why it matters, and how it would be used. In this case, the original idea thread was marked as "Implemented" at one point, because the developers did provide a way to print or export a report showing budget versus actual data. They may have considered it complete and crossed it off their list, without understanding how the report is useless for many people because of the inability to specify an "as of" date. So it takes more prodding/lobbying/feet-stomping by users to get it called back to their attention. This is why votes for this Idea thread (and others) really matter; more votes give the site moderators ammunition to get the issue in front of the product and development teams. (Anyone reading this who hasn't voted for this idea, click here to go to the first page of this thread and vote! Find the blue box under the first post, and if the arrow under the counter is gray, click it to add your vote.)

    Or…

    (2) The developers are aware of the issue and the need, but implementing the solution turns out to be a significant programming hurdle. Although angry customers sometimes post that "any developer could easily implement XYZ feature in a few hours", the reality is that Quicken is a complex program. Differences in the way the data for banking transactions, investment transactions, and budgets are stored make some changes which seem pretty elementary actually require months of work. Last year, the developers released two long-awaited budget features users had been asking for for years: the ability to specify which accounts to include in a budget, and the ability to selectively include transfers in budgets. It took nearly two years after the product manager acknowledged in a comment that they would be working on those features until they finally came out. They had to wait for some changes by the Quicken mobile team -- a separate group within Quicken -- because budgets are supported in the mobile app, which in turn needs to work with both Quicken Mac and Quicken Windows, and then get the right developers to work on the issues. There are some developers who work on database issues, some who work on server issues, some who work on user interface issues, etc., so implementation of a particular feature may come down to one programmer being assigned to some project which lasts several months before being assigned to a particular project on the schedule.


    Sorry that's a very long-winded answer to your simple question, and one I unfortunately can't answer. Hopefully it at least gives some insight into how these things work. And we can all hope this issue is something they'll resolve in the coming months!
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Melindam
    Melindam Member ✭✭
    edited May 3
    Each month, I have to manually create a workaround to evaluate my budget vs actual. This is incredibly important for tracking expenses vs cash flow, and a common tool for many households and businesses. I've seen numerous requests for this feature. Please consider adding it to a future update
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    There is a budget versus actual report: with your budget open, you can click Print (or Export), and this report will contain the budget versus actual values.

    The problem, which is likely what you're referring to, is that the report is through the current month. So today, February 2, it would compare actual year-to-date (Jan 1 to Feb 2) values to budget year-to-date (January and February) values -- a result most people wouldn't want. What you typically want is to be able to get a report through the end of the prior month -- so January actuals versus January budget.

    Such a report, with a user-defined date range, does not yet exist in Quicken Mac. It is at the heart of this long-running Idea thread, and I suggest you add your vote to it. 

    Util the developers tackle this issue, the best way to get a budget versus actual report as of the end of the prior month is to Export the budget, delete the current and future month columns, and then sum the actual columns for the year and in a separate column sum the budget columns for the year -- and copy those two sums all the way down, and total them. It takes a little time to set-up, but at least you can get the data you're looking for. (You can also create a 'difference' column to show how much your actual is above or below your budget.)
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Melindam
    Melindam Member ✭✭
    Thank you! I've just added my vote to that thread. (I'd looked for one and didn't see this one.). I've using the workaround you suggested for three years now and have been horribly frustrated that they haven't just added a "budget vs actual" report that also includes the "year end totals" (e.g., income to expenses). It shouldn't be that hard. In the meantime, I really appreciate your taking the time to let me know about the other thread. We need a lot more people to upvote it.
  • mborens
    mborens Member
    This feature is absolutely a top priority for me. I need to be able to look back for any given timeframe at my budgeted vs actual totals. Terribly frustrating without this feature.
  • NickH
    NickH Member
    Needs to happen. This would be more useful than the bar graph on the budget tool.
  • lumosma
    lumosma Member
    I agree that this should be available. Please add to Quicken Mac!
  • I had Quicken for Windows and this was the biggest feature I used. I won't buy Quicken for Mac until this is available. And I don't have a Windows PC anymore so I am using another financial software until this is available (which doesn't have great budget reporting either)
  • michaelweinberg
    michaelweinberg Member ✭✭
    So...this comment thread has been ongoing for 3 years now. I feel compelled to add a comment so it doesn't get lost. The main functionality that is needed is to be able to compare a user's actual expenses to their budgeted expenses from the beginning of the current year through the end of the month before the current month. As things stand now, that report can be run only on the last day of a month. It cannot be run at any other time, which means an accurate report is not available on 353 (or 354) days each year. Given the earlier post by a Quicken employee stating that this functionality already exists (it does not), I'm hoping that this post may trigger another look. Please.
  • C Marshall
    C Marshall Member
    I really need a budget vs actual with flexible dates. This is such a basic feature I'm surprised it's not included.
  • DCE
    DCE Member
    THREE YEARS this thread has been going. And still no ability to check Budget vs. Actual spending? This is a show stopper. Gonna have to cash in on the "money back guarantee" if there truly isn't an easy way to do this (and exporting to excel is not an option!). Can we at least have an updated timeline as to when we can expect this critical feature?

    Many thanks,

    D
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    DCE said:
    Can we at least have an updated timeline as to when we can expect this critical feature?
    Quicken almost never says when new features will come out. They don't want to set expectations and then make customers even angrier if the deadline slips due to difficult implementing the feature or other hot priorities which pop up and push back the promised feature.

    I'm not saying it wouldn't be helpful to know what's coming; I'm just saying it's exceptionally rare that we find out.

    P.S. I know you say "Excel is not an option", but I'll just say that creating an up-to-date report through the end of the prior month takes me about a minute in Excel. Yes, it's truly annoying to have to go outside Quicken to get a report that should so obviously be available inside Quicken; I'm just saying that it's fairly easy to generate such a report in Excel or Numbers if you want to. If I compare doing that once a month to the amount of time it would take to migrate my data and learn an alternative software platform, moving to the alternative would be the show-stopper for me. ;)
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • dalrad1
    dalrad1 Member ✭✭
    Where are the real Quicken staff? Cant someone from the company even comment on this thread? My gosh!
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @dalrad1  Quicken management does not post on this forum, and the development team only does so extremely rarely.

    The Quicken employees who do post here are the site moderators, and they don't have insights into what the development teams are working on or planning to work on, except when they get told a particular idea has been slated for future implementation.

    I'm just a fellow Quicken user, so don't shoot the messenger. ;)  This site exists primarily to allow Quicken users, along with the moderators, to help users with issues, and to give users a place to request new features/functionality. Quicken is pretty slow to react to these requests, although they keep chipping away at adding features users have asked for. I'd agree that some idea requests -- like this one -- seem so straightforward and obvious a need that they shouldn't require lots of voting and lobbying, and shouldn't take years and years to get addressed, but that's the reality. What keeps me optimistic is that it's been clear over the past 5+ years that the developers do listen to and address the concerns users bring up (even though it doesn't happen nearly as quickly as anyone would wish).
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • cmtecca
    cmtecca Member ✭✭
    > @"Quicken Community" said:
    > Is there any way to create a category report to compare actuals vs. budget with custom dates in Quicken 2018 for Mac. It seems like such a basic report, but it appears there is no way to do it. Please add this simple, yet important functionality.

    Creating this function within Quicken subscriptions will greatly enhance the value of the product. If Quicken intends to be useful product, not "just" an aggregator of various financial records, this is a MUST DO function to incorporate.
  • John Mc
    John Mc Member
    Just moved from Windows to Mac Quicken yesterday. Actually quite shocked that Budget vs. Actual reporting isn't a no-brainer to anyone who budgets (most of us). What's the point of even having budgeting capability an included feature is unable to report and track differences. Can anyone help me?
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @John Mc Yes, this is a longstanding complaint of Quicken Mac users who utilize the budget functionality of the program. While the developers face competing demands for many features, it continues to surprise me they haven't fixed the budget report to be able to, the the very least, specify an ending date other than today. We can only hope such an enhancement is on their shortlist for implementation later this year.

    Now, just to clarify for anyone reading this: the budget in Quicken does show budget versus actual, both month-by-month and year-to-date. If you're not seeing the year-to-date columns immediately to the right of the category column, click the "<<" icon above the categories to make these columns visible. Also, if the 2021 columns are showing January through December, click the "v" icon to select "Budget-Year-to-Date Totals".




    So all the proper building blocks are there. The only problem -- and it's a significant one -- is that you can't set the ending date. It's early July as I'm writing this, so a January-to-July comparison doesn't make sense -- it includes my budget figures through the end of July, but few of my July expenses yet. What you want to see is a January-to-June budget-versus-actual report -- and Quicken Mac is missing the ability to specify such a date range.  The only time you can get a reasonably accurate budget-versus-actual report is on the last day of each month (and even then, you may have some transactions from the last day or two of the month which won't post and download for another day or two). 

    That said, there is a viable workaround, but it requires a minute or two to produce the budget comparison in a spreadsheet. Even if you're not a spreadsheet wizard, it's pretty straightforward. Here's how:
    • In Quicken's budget screen, click on the Export icon in the upper right, and select Export Full Budget to CSV.
    • Open the CSV file in Excel or Numbers. The spreadsheet columns have the categories followed by three columns -- Actual, Budgeted, Difference -- for each month of the year.
    • Delete the columns on the right for all the months after the time you want to see. In this case, I want a January to June report, so I'd delete all the columns for July through December.
    • In a blank column, on the first row of numbers, construct a formula the add the Actual values for each of the months. For instance, in Excel, that formula is "=C10+F10+I10+L10+O10+R10" or "=SUM(C10,F10,I10,L10+O10,R10)"
    • Click that cell and Fill Right for two columns, creating the sum of Budgeted and Difference values.
    • Select those three YTD cells you just created, and Fill Down down the entire length of the spreadsheet.
    In those columns you created, you now have the Actual, Budget and Difference for YTD through June. In the three top summary rows, you have total Income, total Expenses and total Difference (aka your bottom line gain or loss). If you want a nicer-looking report to keep or print, you can do additional work to improve the appearance of the spreadsheet if you wish, like creating column headings over the three YTD columns you created, bolding key values, eliminating some of the header rows, etc.

    Once you've done this a time or two, you'll find you can create such a spreadsheet in a minute or two, so you can get a viable budget-versus-actual report whenever you want one. It's obviously not as simple as being able to generate such a report in Quicken, but it is do-able. 

    (More advanced spreadsheet users could take this approach farther by building a re-usable spreadsheet for subsequent monthly exports. That involves retaining all 12 months of columns, creating a cell where you enter the ending (and optionally beginning) month you want, creating a set of YTD columns which sum only the months in the range you specify, and hiding the columns you don't want to see. This entails significantly more complicated spreadsheet formula-building I won't go into here. Once you have such a spreadsheet built, in the future you can export the budget from Quicken by exporting to the clipboard and pasting it into your existing spreadsheet to have a YTD report in just a few seconds.) 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • mrvd
    mrvd Member ✭✭
    Thank you Jacobs ! Your input is much appreciated !
  • Whitney Wilson
    Whitney Wilson Member ✭✭
    I'm also a longtime user of Q for windows that has shifted to the Mac version. If I known I couldn't do a Actual v Budget report, I would have stayed with the windows version.
    I'm very disappointed!!!
  • AMoff_99
    AMoff_99 Member
    I haven't read through all the comments but support enhanced and flexible budget reporting. The columns that I use for monthly reporting (which I do now through a laborious exercise of downloading the full budget CSV file into an excel template and then modifying formulae to get the desired reporting) are as follows: Current month actual, current YTD actual, current YTD Budget, difference between YTD budget and YTD actual, and annual budget. Noting that the fiscal year I am working with is not the calendar year.
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