In an ever-turbulent world budget pressures have been increasing, with many budgets under review at the mid-point of the year.  But budget discussions are not a zero-sum game and even if your manager says they can’t give more, they still might.  Here are a few thoughts on how to get the most out of the budget process for your team.

Understand why your manager takes their position

It’s important to understand the constraints of your business or manager.  Every time you hear “no”, try to understand the underlying reasons for this.  Managers can always make exceptions, and frequently do.  So, find out why they will not make one for you.  It might be, for example, that the budget process will re-open in six months.  You could accept the current budget so long as more resources are provided in a budget review.

Anticipate the businesses needs

Take a strategic approach to the  budget process and show why your budget and activity is critical to achieving your firm’s strategic objectives.

Mutiple budgets

When your manager says there is no budget, they may only be thinking of their department or your team’s budget. Encourage them to think more creatively by asking about other pools of money or reallocating across budgets in their department.

Get others to pay for some of your work

It may be possible for another team, department or business unit to pay for some of your team’s activities, for example if you are providing a service to others.

Prioritise your spending

You can’t do everything, so focus on the things that have the biggest impact on your department or business, and that you can realistically accomplish.  Know which of your team’s activities can be reduced, postponed or cut entirely.  Be prepared for ongoing budget revisions with a list of new activities that can be quickly approved at a later date.

Set expectations

If your budget has to be reduced, clearly state the impact on your team’s deliverables and targets.  Use this to negotiate a smaller cut, or no cut at all.

Consider creative options to deliver targets while reducing costs

For example, it may be possible to outsource (contract labour) rather than invest in expensive new hires.

Invest in training

By building up capabilities your existing team may achieve more while consuming fewer resources.

Highlight your past successes.

Impress your decision makers by highlighting previous successes and why your team is critical to their goals.

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