Budgets are funny creatures. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them, just substitute your favorite person, spouse, animal, vegetable, mineral and you get the picture.
Tell someone you do not have a budget and no matter who they are they will look at you funny thinking what’s wrong with you. The funny thing about budgets is few people really know what a budget truly looks like, how to use a budget and most importantly why budgets are so important. Yet those same people are certain that you need a budget, must have a budget and you are crazy if you admit that you do not have a budget.
How can people be so certain about something they do not understand, know how to build and most importantly – know how to use on an everyday basis – yet be so certain you cannot live without it.
Let’s get to the point everyone understands – Yes Budgets are Important – they mostly don’t know why but they all sure do agree on this point.
What we need to do is make budgets “Timeless” to people. That means:
• Always on.
• Always relevant.
• Always needed by regular ordinary people trying to do their job.
First Step – make budgets always on and to do this you need to get ordinary people – line-managers, project managers and others to think budget (be the budget) as part of their daily decision making process. In other words – Is this decision both critical to meeting programmatic goals and work within budgetary guidelines?
Second Step – make budgets relevant by not allowing budgets to become stale. How, by layering on rolling projections to budget reports and the monitoring process so the budget is constantly refreshed with new relevant and timely information.
Third Step – make the first and second steps like breathing. This means a natural part of your work life existence. Now budgets become timeless without boundaries. Fiscal years are important but to the budget process they are just chapters in a book following one and another toward a common goal with each chapter linked to past and future chapters building a rich story that defines the organization over time. An organization doing good works, meeting mission goals yet healthy financially and strong to live for many years.
Next up I will explore the magic of rolling projections and getting ordinary people to connect with budgets.