Budget Schmudget

August 14, 2007

Imagine being able to forecast what technology you’ll need 12-18 months from now. Impossible I say. Select. Price. Justify. ‘Janet, go ahead and order the blah blah you need.’ (Gee, I don’t need it anymore) What to do?

How freakin’ inflexible! It defeats the use of tools for improving how people learn. We can talk about how things should be…open, flexible, etc. but hey, face it, the budget is what it is.

Here are some ideas for working around an inflexible environment. I welcome other ideas -especially something that’s worked for you.

  • Learn to spot emerging technologies. Don’t focus just on the now.
  • Keep an eye on the early adopter organizations and their results with the tools and technologies you’re interested in incorporating.
  • Present broad categories for tools and technologies: “collaboration platform,” “multimedia production tools,” “instructional design services,” “knowledge management platform,” etc. AND link them to a strategy.
  • Get senior management excited about your plans and keep them in the loop. Small bits of information are best.
  • Get learners excited about your plans and keep them in the loop too. How often have you felt that your department is the best kept secret in the organization? Newsletter? e-zine?
  • Know what other departments are working on. I can recall looking at something and saying WTF is this?… we’re working on that same thing as they are. Argh.
  • Stay close to what the ‘front line’ is doing. I remember walking down a hall with someone I used to work with in another department and they said…’so, are you still doing that training thing?’ Argh again. This is when I realized I needed to stop having lunch at my desk and spend some time on the ‘front line.’ You’ll learn more there than at 20 meetings.
  • Plan for across-the-board cutbacks. 10%-25% more should not jeopardize what you need to deliver.

A ginormous amount of time is wasted on the budget process. How many meetings, justifications, and emails are on you’re calendar and inbox that are budget-driven?
The list below from Gunn Partners illustrates some of the frustrations that I faced when dealing with the corporate learning budget. Perhaps you can relate. How do you work around the confines of an old command & control budget process?

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    I tend to get around budgets by doing stuff cheap and under the radar to start with. Helps to be of the “do it now, apologize later” school of thought.

    “Hey – here’s what I can do for cheap. Imagine what I can do with some money.”

    The tactic has worked beautifully so far. I went from a budget of zero 3 years ago to having a budget of “hey – whatever you want to spend…” Now if they would only include TIME in that budget…..

  • http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com Wendy

    I tend to get around budgets by doing stuff cheap and under the radar to start with. Helps to be of the “do it now, apologize later” school of thought.

    “Hey – here’s what I can do for cheap. Imagine what I can do with some money.”

    The tactic has worked beautifully so far. I went from a budget of zero 3 years ago to having a budget of “hey – whatever you want to spend…” Now if they would only include TIME in that budget…..

  • Pingback: Do it now, apologize later — Janet Clarey()

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