I was just thinkin’ that it’s my favorite time of the year.  It’s almost spring, it’s starting to get warmer (on some days), and the days are getting longer.  I even saw my tulip plants starting to pop out of the ground the other day.  And … it’s budget time.  Most people around our office cringe when they hear the word budget.  It’s something they dread … one of those necessary evils.  I look at it entirely differently.  It’s a lot like spring … it’s a change of season … a time to see what’s going to pop out of the ground this year.

BudgetTo me, a budget should not be a rehashing of what you did last year, or an exercise where you just plug the same numbers, plus a few more for inflation, into the same expense lines year after year.  I think it’s much more than that.  It’s a time to reassess what you are doing.  Ask some questions … is this an expense we really need to incur?  Is there some better way to do this?  Is there a less costly way to do this?

It’s so easy to fall into the mindset of “we’ve always done things this way” that it’s challenging to sit back and try to think about our daily activities and assess if there is a better or more efficient way to do them.  But if you think about it in a broader scope, budgeting is also a good way to tie in short- and long-term planning.

Budget time is when our strategic plan comes to life.  We start out with these ideas of what we’d like to do over the next year or years … and budget time is where you really start to see the planning process become reality.  All we had before were ideas, but once you start to put dollars behind those ideas, the plan evolves.  Budgeting is a good litmus test of the plan.  It’s easy to sit around the table and brainstorm all of these great ideas of products and services you can offer over the upcoming year, but when you start to look at the costs and prioritizing where the resources are best allocated, that is where the plan really takes it’s shape.

How do you view budget season and how is it viewed in your organization?  And, what can you do to change the perception of budgeting?