This year, you many have been caught off guard by budget reductions stemming from state reversions, unexpected attrition, and/or an unforeseen drop in mid-year entry headcount. Let this be the last time.
You can't control external factors that affect your budget. But you can create a plan to consider those factors. Starting today, create a budget for next year and consider a 2% reduction, a 5% reduction, and a 10% reduction. Make it real: go line by line through each entry and have a conversation about how to move forward with less. Once you've finished that exercise, consider the inverse: prepare a budget that's 2% higher than your current operating budget. Then what? Deliver your budget to your administration regardless of whether there is a good process in place for budgeting or not.
Strategic planning and budgeting may start with the unknown, but it immediately becomes an exercise in understanding how all functions of an institution are ultimately tied to headcount, funding source(s), and long terms goals.
We understand that there are a number of institutions that have less than basic budgeting practices in place. Whether the reasons stem from a lack of good tools or discipline to improve the budgeting process is not the issue. In our personal experience, we have found that sometimes, if you're the only one in the organization that has a process, you can end up leading the process for an entire institution.