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Submitted by juliahhavener on


I find myself tasks with reviewing this year's budget and working on next year's for my team (department). I've got a reasonable understanding of personal finance, but that only goes so far, so I'm open to suggestions on good places to look for more.

Details: Call center environment, current team coverage is M-F, I'm looking to expand coverage through the weekend (or at least Saturday) and two more hours a day during the week. We do have several courses available through the company's online education program that I have signed up for. It's not expected that I write a perfect budget, but I'd like to have a reasonably good understanding - enough to get close!

Ideas, suggestions, references, it's all good - I'm willing to invest some time and effort on this.

kklogic's picture

I'd be happy to help if I can.

Are you looking to justify more FTEs? Is this customer service or telesales?

juliahhavener's picture
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Customer service. I'll need additional FTEs to pull our hours through the weekend, and maybe add an hour to both ends of the day. I think what I need most right now is a good way to determine how many more I'll need to provide that coverage.

kklogic's picture

There are some excellent books about financial reporting out there, but (to the best of my knowledge) those books don't tell you about the #1 worst part of budgeting -- and that's politics.

In my experience, a first budget is "sent up." Inevitably, word comes down from the top to increase the operating margin, growth, etc. You have to keep this in mind from the get-go in figuring out how many FTEs you want in the end -- because you will have to fight like mad. It's easier to go in asking for more than you need because you can work down from there.

If there is a way to figure out an ROI on these folks, do it. In a CS environment, it might be customer retention or maybe an even "softer" metric --- but have something. This won't go into the budget sheet, but when you get called on to justify what you're asking for, you'll have it.

If there's someone in your company that you've established a relationship with that is familiar with your budget process, I'd take them to lunch. Have them explain to you the particular set of politicking unique to your company. I seriously can't stress this enough. Coming up with the numbers is the easy part. Navigating the political waters is the killer.

I used to try and not participate in the game - believing we should just be honest up front - and I got hosed. The game will be played whether you play or not.

If you want to PM me anything you don't feel comfortable posting here in the open, I'd be happy to help as best I can.

juliahhavener's picture
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There's always a political battle - the good news is that my team is sort of surfing on top of it. I know that (within my building) I'll have all the backup and warning you can get in that arena. I've got calls in to folks in other areas that I have established relationships with for help/information already. I will definitely PM you this weekend with more details. Thank you!

Mark's picture
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Ask to see last year's.

Ask for peers, even if not at your level.

Ask for a template.

Ask to see expenditures for the area for this year if one does not exist.

Talk to someone in finance - they'll give you some samples as well.

Do not reinvent the wheel.

Make sure your FTE requests are ROI driven. "I need more" is like nails on a chalkboard. Also, ask about folks willing to change shifts. Don't assume... ask everyone. You never know.



juliahhavener's picture
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Thanks, Mark.

I have last year's budget.

I'll be talking with my director (who handles the budget for the other piece of our business and wrote this year's for my department) as well as the manager I worked for before the move who has done budgeting for similar departments for a number of years.

I'll ask about the template. And the expenditures for this year. We've had a number of startup costs that won't be incurred next year.

I'm stretching my current FTE to pick up as much of the spread as I can efficiently and effectively. We [b]know[/b] more FTE will be required for the additional coverage. The only question is how many (I have an ulterior motive for keeping it as tight as I can - I don't see it being enough to justify another full team which mean they will all report to me - 15 current DR + how many = a large group to manage). My team is also open to the schedule changes and are expecting them for next year - thankfully that's not going to be a problem for me!

I've never been interested in wheel-inventing...I just have to learn the language of the blueprints!