Securing budget approval has always been a challenge for any business manager. Driving performance through change is part of your passion, but there is no getting away from the inevitable financial framework most businesses have in place to control costs.
There is a huge amount of uncertainty in the market right now and cost control has never been tighter. Businesses have never had so much focus on cost, so the fight for budget approval just became a battle.
Read on to find out ways you can help to get your financial requests approved.
1/ Make a compelling business case
Return on Investment (ROI) is the name of the game here. Any business will expect a return on the investment they make in a project - and quite rightly so. Think reducing risk, rapid return, make sure your numbers are realistic and don’t make wild claims - they will surely come back to bite you!
2/ Presentation is key
How you will present your request is critical. Think of it as a bid and you are the salesman. A passive request emailed for inclusion in the next board meeting will not be as powerful as a well thought through presentation - delivered in person if possible.
If you do get the chance to present, make sure you know your audience. A slide deck will help bring the project to life and it will give you the chance to show your passion and answer questions. Some individuals like stories and graphics, some like data, you need to cover all the angels to keep all your audience engaged. Most importantly, it must tell the whole story and make sure you are rehearsed and prepared!
3/ No budget visibility? - no problem!
Many departments currently have no visibility of any budget available, but in the end it’s down to trust and accountability. You need to trade spend versus savings, risk versus reward, maybe you can demonstrate you can fund 70% of the project and you only need to reach out for 30%. You and your team need ‘skin in the game’, you are not just the guys in the engine room but are part of the business and delivering value is in your DNA.
4/ Get support from influential stakeholders
Even if they are not responsible for your line of business, reach out to other senior members within the company who are influential within the business to explain the justification for your project. Who knows what is talked about 'behind the scenes' as much as in formal planning meetings. Although your project may not be on someone's direct agenda, there is a good chance it may be talked about informally - you need to cover all bases!
5/ Illustrate past success using your track record
You have many previous successes and these should be used as proof that your investment is a ‘sure bet’. Previous project use cases and examples will bring your previous projects to life - but ensure you include the return on investment and numbers, numbers, numbers! Finance likes predictability and this will reduce the risk and increase the probability of a positive outcome for you.
6/ Don’t be greedy
This may be the time to hold the ‘blockbuster’ program you have been building up for. In the current climate, budget is tight. Many companies are looking to deploy more, smaller projects rather than backing one horse. A smaller project therefore will have more probability of sign off.
7/ Think of alternatives
You may be able to reduce budget requirements by using resources which are covered by other cost codes. Recruiting a contactor rather than a full time employee may mean you can use a different cost centre and even better, it may not come out of your budget! Apply this type of thinking across all products and services required within your project and you may be surprised what areas you can make savings in.
8/ Be creative and think outside the box.
Can you rent equipment rather than buy? Could you reduce costs by using offshore services and resources? Could you utilize any of the 'new wave' of on-line collaborative services? Is using refurbished or reconditioned goods an option? It’s a mindset - blue sky, clean sheet, out of the box, call it what you will, let your creative juices flow!
Oh yes - and good luck!