Editor's Letter

Oct. 29, 2010
The Downs and Ups of Budget Season

Is any routine business activity more difficult than budgeting?

Given the vise-like grip that organizations have on expenses in these difficult times, it isn’t getting any easier to budget. And by nature of their role, facility managers contend with some special budget challenges.

Whereas other managers can float the balloon of their expenses with a blast of hot revenue, facility managers operate a cost center. Consequently, they are frequently held to a more rigid standard due to a lack of revenue to justify the means.

When the stakes are high, consensus among individuals is harder to achieve. Facility managers frequently must do a balancing act among the needs of various departments and individuals.

When times are tough, the outlook of many organizations inevitably focuses narrowly on the short term. As organizations struggle to make it through the recession, this tendency has only increased. In contrast, facility managers create budgets based on capital expenditures and other long-term financial commitments.

There’s not likely to be any respite from these pressures as you work on your 2011 budget. But a cliché – and one that happens to be true – is that there is opportunity behind every obstacle. In the case of budgeting, it is a prime time to make the point that facility management is not a cost of doing business but a potential competitive edge for a business.

Whenever appropriate, expenses should be couched in the context of opportunity rather than mere "maintenance," which is a word – rightly or wrongly – that connotes standing still more than moving ahead.

Whenever feasible, emphasize how your activities enhance the productivity of individuals.

Wherever possible, take the long view by underlining how your department’s expenditures are designed to bring long-term success to the organization.

Easier said than done? Of course! That’s why I’d like you to share the budgeting tips and tricks in your briefcase. Email me at [email protected] and we will include them in the next issue.

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