Build a Better Budget

8 Feb, 2012 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager's Toolbox: You already know you'll need to buy new hardware and software this year — now you've got to tell management about it.

In this final installment of my "New Year’s cleanup" series, we'll focus on mapping out your budget for the year. Why? Because if you don’t ask for money, you’ll never get it! New software, workstations, peripheral devices, and servers won’t just show up on their own — you have to build the budgeting case for them.

Here’s a great way to update your budget with minimum hassle:

Draw up a bare-bones item list. Look at last year as a baseline, then increase items that were underfunded, trim those that were too high, add things that you forgot, and eliminate everything you won’t need.

Scale up — and down.
If one department or workgroup is growing, scale its CAD budget up accordingly. If another is shrinking, lower its budget. If lots of new projects are on the way, consider how much the company will grow to undertake the project load and expand the budget to meet the coming need.

Plan for obsolescence.
Will you need to retire those old CAD servers this year? Is the rickety plotter on its last leg? Allow for these types of scenarios and make sure to budget for the equipment you’ll need to support the company for at least three years!

If there are certain pieces of software, hardware, or network equipment that simply must be implemented in the coming year, be sure to indicate those items clearly in your budget. If you don’t spell out what you have to have, then everything becomes negotiable.

Sorting your budget in a way that separates needs from desires helps convince management that you understand prioritization and frugality. And when your managers know you feel their financial pain, they’re much more likely to work with you.

Make it look good.
Finally, compile everything in a nice spreadsheet format that is easy to read and runs no longer than two pages. If it's a quick read and looks good, people might actually read it!

A budget document is one of those things you can inadvertently put off until the end of the year, when it is far too late to get what you need. By getting your budget done early in the year you’ll have more time to discuss it with your senior management, and the more you talk, the better your chances of getting what you ask for!

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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