If you are part of a multi-faceted organization then you may have the responsibility of creating or maintaining a departmental budget.
Think of it like a puzzle: the larger the organization, the more pieces that have to fit together, increasing the complexity. Strategic financial planning at all levels is key for forecasting future profits and minimizing shortfalls.
So how can you generate a budget that allows straightforward visualization all of these factors and still be clear for everyone involved to understand?
1. Gather Intel for Your Budget Plan
• Start the budgeting process with collaborating with members of your team. You will need to know critical details from the prior year’s budget and actual records, your current year to date, and the reasons for a surplus or shortfall.
• You may need to gather this information from multiple stakeholders, but be cautious to take in facts rather than opinions. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and you will have to determine where the money is best allocated.
• Using historical data will give you an overall view so you can drill down into different details. Review this in your presentation.
2. Define and Evaluate Department Goals
• Ask specific questions when preparing your budget: What is management looking for? What expectations are set for your department? Do you provide services for other departments? What kind of metrics does your area operate under - sales, productivity, or even administrative goals?
• Understand the big picture: think like your employer. Plan out effective strategies for how your department affects other areas. Target your previous profits and sales (if applicable).
• Set individual or team expectations, taking into account equipment and operating costs, salaries and timing.
• Prepare several scenarios and evaluate their effectiveness to stay within budget. Keeping your finger on the pulse will help you justify or make an argument for additional funding.
3. How to Budget
• Now gather all of the information you have and sit down to make the actual budget. There are many budgeting tools to choose from that will help you prioritize your goals.
• You may be faced with difficult decisions as you will be working with other people's priorities and you're always going to want to do as much as possible with what you have. Evaluate different directions, communicate with other department leads and determine which course of action will work best.
• That being said, it's a good idea to build two or three different "what if" scenarios. Life is never black or white. Presenting alternate scenarios before situations occur will prove you have forethought and are a true leader!
4. Monitor the Progress Regularly
• Make a plan for periodic touch points to make sure goals are being met and your team is sticking to your budget. Share this plan in your presentation and ensure you follow up. You don’t want to be scrambling for answers if things falter because of your inactivity.
• Remember what your grandmother said: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
5. Be Prepared to Make Adjustments to Your Budget
• Sometimes even the best laid plans need to be adjusted based on circumstances. Keep adding to your alternate scenarios as situations arise so that you are prepared before events occur that are irreversible.
Why You Need to Use the Right Budgeting Tools
• Find out what makes sense for your presentation. Do the company decision-makers respond better to raw data in the form of a spreadsheet or a nicely laid out visual presentation? There are many tools that can help you compile budgets, make sense of past records, and collaborate with other teams in the organization.
• And make sure you use clear, concise and visually appealing software for your presentation to your company director that will blow their minds!
Dryrun is a simple way to forecast your cash flow, build budgets and track sales projections.