“Not budgeted for”

My managers will disappear for at least a month every half year to do their budgeting. They will spend enormous amounts of time scrutinizing the budget forecast and making sure that we have enough work to do, but not too much, and that we are making enough money to cover our salary, rental and other stuff.

All is well and good, but I often wish they will spend the same effort on tracking our projects and ensuring that we are on track, rather than panicking when we hit problems. That aside, budgeting is something that they understand, and we are generally effective at controlling user requests by using the budget as a plan of how we would allocate resources, and would inform user that we are all tied up, or that the users’ budget has been exhausted, so could we do this next year instead? Something big that is not budgeted for can thus be averted, because bosses here value stability and would not want to incur additional expenses because they dislike having to explain such things to senior management.

Apparently, this is a concept that is well-understood by executives all over Singapore, and is thus useful when we need to explain away why we are not doing something. Take as an example, a concerned (or merely kay-po) friend who like to ask “Is there any news?” a few months after I got married. By news, they are not asking if I have been promoted, won the lottery or some nobel prize, or discovered the cure for Aids, worthy though these may be. The only news that they are interested in following a wedding is our announcement that we are having a baby. It has been very useful to tell them that this is not budgeted for, and they will laugh it off and leave us alone.

Far more useful, really, than trying to explain that we have a Plan, and that we planned to have the baby sometime down the road. Invariably, they would like to question when that would be, why not earlier. It is useful to be able to explain in a common language.

Apparently, the cost of having a baby, and then raising it, can be intimidating when you are living in Singapore, and thus the concept of “not budgeted for” is easy for them to swallow.

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