Most of all of the time spent on the budgeting process, roughly eighty percent, is spent assembling data and manipulating spreadsheets. The time spent on “value added analysis” represent less than twenty percent of the total time in the process. With this in mind we have a few tips to help you get through this budget season with at least a little less pain than in past years.
1. Build for flexibility. Set yourself up to be able to handle multiple scenarios on a moment’s notice because that’s usually about how much notice you’ll get. Build your budget in a way that will allow you to run different scenarios without creating a ton of work each time you have to create a new scenario. This may take a bit more time on the front end to design things to handle this, but it will pay off in spades when the boss strolls in with, yet another, scenario to run.
2. Remember the 80/20 Rule and spend your time accordingly. Make sure you delegate lower level work like data input and math checking to the lowest cost resource. You may be the most expensive resource in your department, so don’t spend your time doing things your staff can do. Most of us who have done FP&A work for a living have difficulty letting go of checking everything personally, but use good judgement and delegate when you can.
3. KISS – Keep It Simple for Stakeholders. – The input you need from each department requires you to deal with department heads. Remember that they are VITOs (very important top officers) in their own department and the time they devote to the budget should be as little as possible to get the job done. Limit what input you ask from them to things that they can actually control. If they can’t affect the number don’t waste their time discussing it with them.
There are many strategies you can implement to make your budget process as painless as possible. Check back frequently for more tips and more in depth articles.