Budgeting is vital to any campaign or project plan. Although this process may feel tedious, it is better to have a plan, than to run out of money halfway through a project. Below I have provided an outline for writing your first budget.
If you follow this format, you can build a subtotal for each public, objective, strategy and tactic. This serves three purposes:
- It acts as a gut check for your team. Have resources been allocated toward reaching the most important audiences?
- Budget approval is directly tied to project funding. Stakeholders need to know how and when to allocate resources to get a specific service level.
- The budget sets a baseline for the project. If the actual cost is different from estimated costs then corrective action is needed.
For this budget to be an accurate gut check, it is important that you list out everything that will affect your budget. These things include but are not limited to:
People – This is what they mean by “time is money.” For every second your team is working on something, it is one second they can’t work on something else. For an on time, on-budget delivery campaign managers need to correctly resource their projects. If employees don’t have the needed experience managers have to look into training opportunities, new hires or even contractors. Each of these have a cost associated with them.
Physical Materials – Please check with your suppliers on cost; my personal bills go up every year. Make sure you have the current numbers for any project. It may be time to shop around. Also, ask about their turnaround time, this simple question will save you from paying rush fees.
Hardware/Software – For your team to perform they need the right tools. As a project or campaign manager you have to decide which resources is more valuable time or money. If you chose money, there are a lot of work arounds; however, the monetary savings can take a toll on moral and efficiency.
Experience has changed the way I see this step. As a student, I created the budget for the “Pick on This-Make a Change” campaign. Truthfully we used it as a gut check to make sure we reached the correct people and didn’t run out of money while we did it. As a project manager at bChannels, it took on a lot more meaning.