Here’s a fundamental problem with the budget process we wanted to address. People don’t like budgeting. That’s really the elephant in the living room we’re all trying to navigate around, isn’t it? Here are some of the words I’ve heard line managers and department heads use to describe budgeting: Stressful… Intimidating… Frustrating… Confusing. I’ve heard more but they aren’t appropriate for a G Rated blog.
One response some people in Finance have is to simply jump in there and do it for them. But that creates problems of its own – like miscommunication and misinterpretation between the person with their hands on the keyboard doing the budget, and the person they’re doing it for. And it frequently results in “That’s not MY number.”
So stepping in to do it for them is expedient and tempting, but it’s not really the right answer.
The options with Excel are pretty limited. You can color code cells and do other things to dress up the spreadsheet, but it’s still a spreadsheet. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
And here’s some surprising news – people outside of Finance don’t love Excel the way that we do. Shocking, I know. So when we hand them a “pretty” spreadsheet we’re not really scoring points.
These people are surrounded by technology in their daily lives like Apple’s iPhone and their cars’ dashboard navigation that have completely redefined “ease of use.” So when we hand them a budget template that’s essentially a grid of general ledger accounts and time periods, their reaction is “You’ve got to be kidding”.
What would be far better is if we could hand them a visual map of their budget, one that’s intuitively obvious to navigate and use. Rather than take words to describe it, click the video above and have a look.
As always, comments and suggestions are welcomed.