During the Middle Ages the town controller or accountant would show the citizenry how much was in the town’s “bouge,” a leather bag or wallet. With this knowledge, they would decide how best to spend it to cover the town’s expenses. Eventually, the term became the “budget” and was adopted by various enterprises to control expenses. Since not all expenses are immediate, the idea of forecasting revenues and expenses slowly entered the picture. However, expense control remained the primary objective. Hence the saying familiar to all of us: “That’s not in the budget.”
Quick, what pops into your mind when I say, Budget? Oh… I hear a lot of groans, but nothing specific. When I hear Budget, I feel the same way. Now, I know as the president of a planning software company, I shouldn’t have that reaction, but I am human. Even with the best tools, the fact remains that all businesses struggle with the same issue: balance. How do you maintain balance between growth and earnings given the costs associated with obtaining new business?
Times are strange. We haven’t been in our Plansmith offices together since March 16th. That’s over a hundred and sixty days – it feels crazy. But like with anything else, we adjust and move forward to reach our goals, but the plans for getting there have definitely changed.
We still want to get together with everyone. We still want to talk about what works, what doesn’t, and how things are going. Even though we can’t meet face to face at our Schaumburg offices this year, we can still come together virtually!
We have some exciting news! Our first installment of Plansmith’s Client Spotlight Series is here. Our intimate spotlights are designed with you in mind. You’ll hear firsthand from our guests as they share their real-life experiences with planning, budgeting, managing risk, and making strategic business decisions.
Are you really planning, or are you just budgeting?
By this I mean, are you just filling out the numbers on a spreadsheet by trending? It is gratifying when all the numbers come together in a neat package showing expected growth and earnings for next year. Along the way there were probably many contributors who verbally expressed their goals and plans for the year. Then, once the budget is done, it gets presented to and accepted by the board. As each month passes, comparisons are made of the budget “predictions” to reality. Variances from “budget” are explained, and business continues. In essence, that’s budgeting.
There’s something about summer that always represents freedom to me. It could be the Fourth of July resonating past the day of, or it could be the warm weather and carefree attitude that comes with it. Maybe it’s the road trips we take and barbecues we host with friends and family. Maybe it’s the trips to the pool or the beach. Maybe it’s the general sense of enjoyment that we try to soak up before the weather gets crisp again.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that plans change.
For example, I had a cruise booked and paid for, including excursions to play with sea turtles and visit Mayan ruins this spring. Two of my close friends and I were set to venture from Tampa to Cozumel, Belize, and Honduras – live our best tropical lives, if you will. We were supposed to set sail April 19th and return April 26th.
As Plansmith’s ‘budgeting software’ evolved from its onset in the early 1970s, it became referred to as a ‘profit planning model.’ This distinction was made because it was much more than just balances on a spreadsheet or basic historical trends cast forward for the next year.
The world is turned upside down and inside out as we confront the unexpected challenge of a pandemic. None of us has been here before and confusion is rampant. Yet, as business leaders expected to carry on for the survival of our companies, the World War II expression, Keep Calm and Carry On, seems applicable today.
At Plansmith, we communicate with hundreds of financial institutions like yours across the country who are affected by this crisis. We understand that you face even greater challenges ahead as you try to adapt. We know you have to assess the financial impact of lost wages, increased unemployment, low interest rates and a fragile economy and we ask ourselves, “How can we help?”
Everyone probably has their budgets in place for 2020 by now. And now comes along the Coronavirus and messes everything up. The Fed has already lowered rates by half a point. So, now you’re scrambling to figure out how this will impact your 2020 plans?
Seems like you have a few choices: