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The Budget Purgatory - Part II

The budget journey: hell, purgatory, paradise


We moved up and now the road was gravel but still very steep. The clouds cleared and the summit was coming into view. A man was walking briskly using his walking poles and carrying a backpack. He greeted us and asked how we came upon this trail. My guide explained about my extraordinary tour. At this the hiker started his story. It was the people that had tripped him up. He was an accountant by trade and people were just a head count to him. But in reality they were all very different. Each employee made a different wage and worked different hours. His model did not account for overtime, vacation, or incentives for high volume. He looked me straight in the eyes and told me “Don’t forget about all the personnel related costs. FICA, health insurance and pensions should be tied to the employee and not just budgeted in a vacuum. Get this right and the path will be easy.” I thanked him and we continued on.


The gravel ended and the road was now a paved winding 5% grade and we had bicycles at our disposal. My guide and I clipped in and started to peddle. We road for quite a while before we saw a lone cyclist. We caught up to him when he stopped for water and a power bar. His adrenaline was pumping and a kind of glow surrounded him. “Tell me sir, what brings you to this road?” I asked.  
He responded “I suggested that we did not need a budget. Budgets were fake numbers, so why should we compare, evaluate and reward based upon a phony number? Or, be tied to a static number in a dynamic world?”  I shuddered at the heresy and asked how he could be this far up the mountain and not in the Inferno itself.


Putting his water bottle back he asked us to ride with him and he would explain.

"Upon my demise I feared the very same thing. I had been excommunicated by the board. The C-levels asked 'How will we plan, know how much to spend or how much to produce?' I proposed that managers could spend whatever they needed and produce as much as they could as long as they performed better period over period.”  
I started to understand his wisdom, but still I had to ask “If you were excommunicated, how did you avoid the Inferno?" He began to chuckle as he answered “Turns out that the god of financial planning, would rather be questioned boldly then blindly follow the budget doctrine. I know my ideas are solid; however, I will not reach Paradise until enough people believe in eliminating the “budget.”  He shifted gears and as he peddled out of sight he asked me to spread his message.


The sun was now setting and the land flattened out. There were just some steps leading up to the zenith of the mountain. A woman was sitting on the third step. I asked her why she was so close to the top but did not climb the last few steps. She smiled at me and explained that her planning was almost perfect. She had accounted for every possibility, every quirk and fluctuation. But she could not enter paradise, because results were not always understandable. There were many reports and users could drill down to the detail. However, people wanted quick graphic summaries. She told me to go on and don’t look back her penance was almost over, a dashboard would be available in the next software release.


I climbed the last few steps and I reached the summit. The sun was on me and there was no shade. The warmth filled me. I looked back and motioned for my guide to join me. But he shook his head and said it was time for him to return to his assigned place.  He could not go with me any further. He was only allowed to show me the unrepentant souls that made the Budget Inferno and the souls that believed in a better way and suffered through the budget exercise but fell short of Paradise.


I would now be in the hands of one far greater than him to make Paradise reality.


Read next stop


Tagetik for unified budgeting, planning and forecasting

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