Ahhhhhh, fall is in the air in New England. The air suddenly turned crisp, leaves are turning and even falling, baseball playoffs have started, football season is in full swing, basketball and hockey preseason has started, and in the name of “it seems to start earlier every year”, stores have put out Valentine’s day merchandise! Ok, probably not on the latter.
For many of you, it’s also budget prep season – perfunctory sigh. Yes that time of year, where the accounting department, realizing it’s running behind, dusts off last year’s spreadsheets and knocks out a budget in time for an upcoming board meeting. Upon approval, they hand it to department managers and say “Here, follow this.” Sound familiar? With that scenario, I ask, “How is the reputation of the accounting department?” Probably not so good.
Maybe it’s not that overtly mechanical. Instead of rolling last year’s budget forward or converting projected annual results to be next year’s budget, maybe there’s a quick manager meeting.
Perhaps there’s a more meaningful way. If you want to improve the accounting department’s reputation as “bean counters”, have improved collaboration, and more importantly, more than likely have a better budget, I suggest engaging the departments that are responsible to carryout the budget to be involved. The time could be well spent to think about strategy, investment needs, capital projects, refreshed view of the business, and overall open the lines of communication between the accounting department and other departments. I’m a big believer in having the accounting department leadership facilitating regular meetings with other departments to accomplish a current objective but also to establish rapport. Those monthly calls with department managers asking them to hurry up and approve those invoices so they can be paid will go much more smoothly. Those meetings really help to establish relationships and open lines of communication.
I suggest a plan such as the following:
Developing the budget will never be as fun as October baseball but with proper planning, and staff engagement, it can be an effective tool that fosters improved relationships, an improved sense of ownership, improved morale, and will likely spark some ideas that can contribute to more success.
Karl spends his time thinking about ways to help organizations with sound financial decisions.
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