Brief: Common Proposal
Ploys We Know and Hate
Ah, it's budget time again. That time of the year
when project planners vie for precious budget dollars. Sure, they want to work on projects
that support the organization; mostly, they want to keep their budgets from being cut.
Easier said than done. Most managers need to combat
the typical project planning nightmare: lack of clear instructions, no indication of
management priorities, and pressing deadlines. This makes writing realistic budget
proposals difficult indeed. But some managers are quite artful, and their creativity knows
no bounds when it comes to funding requests.
Common ploys well-known to budget analysts are:
- The Retread Proposal - last
years proposals are resurrected, dusted off, some of the numbers are changed, and if
the managers are really careful, theyll remember to change the dates.
- The Doomsayer Proposal - the organization
will grind to an immediate halt if this project is not funded; life on earth will cease to
exist as we know it.
- The Double-Chinned Proposal - most often
prepared by managers who have been through a few budget cycles. Here the manager makes a
best guess about how much money is needed, and then doubles it. After all, the
"bean-counters" will cut the request in half anyway.
- The Whipsaw Proposal - this is one where the
manager knows if the projects real costs were known, the CFO would have him in for
psychiatric evaluation. So, while the projects full benefits are touted, the actual
costs are grossly understated. Once the initial budget is spent, the story goes like this,
"Gee, weve invested so much already, it seems a pity to just throw it
- The Overlooked Proposal - once the budget is
finally approved, part way through the year, the manager will realize that there were a
few important projects that s/he simply "forgot" to include in his/her budget
- The Earnest Proposal - the manager works day
and night to prepare good proposals. With the best of intentions, the manager winds up
talking too much about things senior management doesnt care about, and too little
about what they really need to know. (not a "ploy", but definitely common)
The bottom line is: An organization's budget
process will either help managers to do it right or it will drive them toward taking
"poetic license" with proposals.