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Tips for negotiating your team's budget

  • Make sure you understand your organization's budgeting process. What are the guidelines you need to follow? What is the timing of the budget process? How is the budget used in the organization?
  • Communicate often with the controller or finance person in your department. Ask questions about points you don't understand. Get that person's advice about the assumptions your team is making.
  • Know what real concerns are driving the people making the decisions about your budget. Then be sure to address those concerns.
  • Get buy-in from the decision makers. Spend time educating the finance person or decision maker about your area of the business. That will lay the groundwork for implementing changes later.
  • Understand each line item in the budget you're working on. If you don't know what something means or where a number comes from, find out yourself. Walk the floor. Talk to people on the line.
  • Have an ongoing discussion with your team throughout the budget period. The more you plan, the more you will be able to respond to unplanned contingencies.
  • Avoid unpleasant surprises! As they become available, compare actual figures to the budgeted amounts. If there is a significant or unexpected variance, find out why. And be sure to notify the finance person who needs to know.

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