Even the most experienced executives can forget important aspects of budgeting preparation. This checklist can help make sure your 2024 budget is ready.
Do you know why skilled pilots still use preflight checklists? Because even the most experienced pilots know they can forget a critical aspect of their routine. That’s why they utilize a systematic process: to ensure that they remember to check crucial issues before takeoff.
Likewise, even the most experienced executives can forget important aspects of budgeting preparation. To prevent the omission of a critical element that could devastate your 2024 budget, we (Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc.) created a budget checklist for you to use.
For your convenience, the 2024 budget checklist questions are grouped into seven major categories of concern during budget creation:
- Realistic Growth
- Data-Driven Assumptions
- Stakeholder Collaboration
- Plan-B Creation
- Strategic Alignment
- User Friendliness
- Clear Communications
A deficiency in any of these areas could lead to an unsuccessful budget implementation. Each category relates to different people within your organization who must participate in the budgeting process.
The purpose of the checklist is to focus management’s attention on the areas that require more coordination before finalizing the budget.
Any checklist questions that elicit a “no” response could indicate an area that requires deeper consideration and immediate attention as you prepare your coming year’s budget. It’s likely that even the most experienced budget preparers will have some “no” answers on the checklist.
A second, but equally important, objective of using the checklist is to teach the operations team what issues they should consider when drafting budgets. The checklist can be a powerful learning opportunity. Managers are given the opportunity to present their opinions on the best way to rectify issues that arise from their checklist responses.
Still another byproduct of using the checklist is the opportunity to alert owners regarding areas in which their current financial systems aren’t producing sufficient critical data to adequately complete the checklist. If someone responds “no” to a question due to lack of data, it’s time to consider the risk of not capturing this vital information.
Does a pilot’s preflight checklist ensure a flawless flight? No, but the 2024 budget checklist is still a prudent process to follow. Will the use of this budget preparation checklist ensure that a prudent and achievable budget is always drafted? No … but it definitely helps.
Good luck with your budgeting. Let’s hope it’s a smooth flight.
Eric Morris is CFO at NSCA member company Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. In addition to his CFO duties, Eric is also an expert for the TeamStrength Financial Leaders Forum, a peer forum that gathers mid-market CFOs and controllers to share best practices and discuss their biggest challenges.