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The 7 Personas of Budgeting

The 7 Personas of Budgeting

(Also known as: Persona Non Grata!)

Imagine this:  It’s budget time, and you are surrounded…

Surrounded by department heads that don’t have financial training, but do have their own agenda and quirky approach to budgeting.

You probably don’t have to stretch to imagine it – as most finance teams live through this same scenario year after year (after year…)

In fact, this scenario is so common we’ve developed 7 individual personas based on our experience – and the feedback from our customers – on these particularly troublesome, and often reticent, budget stakeholders.  Who are they?

The Victim“I don’t know how to budget. I can’t learn the system.”

Playing the confused and hapless role comes easily to this manager (who would really prefer not to manage).  A complicated user interface (like Excel) provides this manager with a built-in excuse for not taking ownership of their own budget and pushing the process right back to finance (as if you didn’t have enough on your plate.)

The Procrastinator“I’m too busy getting the job done to spend more time on this.”

Speaking of the work on your plate…this manager waits until the last minute to submit (or is late altogether) – putting the finance team in crunch mode.   The Procrastinator leaves you on the line for potentially bad numbers, without the time you need to properly analyze the data before final submission.

The Tinkerer:  “Wait! I want to make another change!  Again!”

Who could possibly figure out the “final budget” from this (particularly annoying) manager who inundates your e-mail with half-finished submissions and multi-scenario questions? A version-control nightmare, the constant resubmissions of the “Tinkerer” slow down theentire consolidation process.

The Critic: “Your process is horrible. I don’t like Excel. That’s not my number.”

Not a fan of the process, and not afraid to share – the critic is frustrated when the budgeting process doesn’t match their individual approach to the business.  A high maintenance (and often high profile) manager whose demands can undermine the entire budgeting process.

The Mechanic:  “I just made a few changes…myself.”

This is the guy (or gal) who shocks you awake at three AM in a cold sweat.  The stuff of budgeting nightmares – the mechanic inserts rows, deletes columns and overwrites formulas on a whim.  Never sure quite why or where your roll-ups are inaccurate – this manager causes you hours of work and (what should be avoidable) frustration.

The Outlier:  “I’m different.  I have special needs – and here’s why…”

The Outlier has special projects and initiatives. And in truth – they often play a critical role in the organization’s strategic vision and growth.  This individual wants to budget for their “exceptions” and at the same time, communicate their rationale to upper management.  Accommodating these (valid, but time consuming) needs cause yet another burden for an already stretched finance team.

The Executive:  “Are these numbers reliable? What was the thinking behind these decisions?”

And let’s not forget the end-user of this whole process – the senior executive who needs to use your numbers to support the organization’s strategy.  The Executive needs reliable numbers, in a timely basis, with the rationale behind each decision made.

So – did we capture all the usual suspects?

Do you have one we left out? (If so, please share below!)

And do you have a plan to escape this mind-numbing, frustrating, time-wasting (dare we say “insanity-making”) scenario next year?

You know what Albert Einstein said about “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results…”


XLerant is a SaaS software solutions company that builds and implements innovative, practical and incredibly powerful browser-based budget preparation software for mid-sized and large organizations and higher education institutions, energizing a “Culture of Budget Accountability” among users. The company serves customers in several industries. XLerant’s premier budgeting and planning application, BudgetPak, replaces spreadsheet-based budgeting and provides maximum user flexibility and financial controls. Improved communication, greater ownership of the numbers and increased transparency enable companies to better manage financial performance throughout the fiscal year.

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