How to be great at budgeting – timelines

In an earlier post I talked about the three elements that make up a successful budget – i.e.

This post is focussing in on timelines as an important factor in a successful budget approach.


Budgeting occurs once a year, but you don’t magic up a load of spare time in which to complete the task. Your day job will be churning along in the background. Sometimes it’s quite hard to manage the two processes in parallel.

So to be successful you need an effective roadmap. You need to know when the deadlines are, so you can plan the milestones in. Budgeting is an iterative process, so you need to allow plenty of time to make the changes that you’ve agreed along the way.

Create a budget planner in Excel and to help you. Plot in the final deadlines, and then map back from there. Key milestones will likely be:

  • Initial scoping meeting – agree timelines, any new business initiatives etc
  • Assumptions sign off – with the relevant P&L owner
  • Progress reviews – at least 2 of these
  • Final sign off – at this point the P&L owner is signing up to delivering the numbers
  • Budget submission

Seem like a lot of steps? Perhaps, but if you’re new to this, run this milestone plan past your boss. They’ll soon tell you if it’s over/under kill. As I said earlier, allow yourself as much time as possible between each step to do the work (modelling/analysing/story boarding).

Book meetings in the diaries for all if the above milestones. Do this at the very beginning of the process. Not only will this focus your mind, but you will also find out if everyone is available on your chosen dates. Trust me, finding out your MD not available to sign off his/her budget is not cool, and doesn’t reflect well on you…

A good timeline will allow you to manage the process effectively, making you appear unruffled, professional and in control.

Stay tuned for my next budget element: Communication.

Author: Oliver Gearing

Oliver Gearing is a beatboxing, acoustic looping, 38 year old father of 3. Sounds like an electrocuted version of Elbow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *