Asking for a bigger budget may seem intimidating, but here’s what it comes down to: Your department has certain objectives, you need money in order to complete those objectives, not all of them will be completed if you’re not allotted enough money – and so your executives have to decide whether those objectives are worth it.
In corporate training, those objectives can appear more abstract, but there are clear company interests. For example, training can reduce employee turnover rates, fill skills gaps, make employees more effective and meet compliance. The priority of training depends on your company’s pain points. What are they struggling with that training can address? On the other hand, maybe your training department is required to deliver a certain amount of training, and you don’t have the time. The company will need to determine whether those deliverables are truly necessary.
In either case, here are four steps to asking for a larger budget.
Step One: Define Your Team’s Role in the Company
Some training and development departments have precise definitions of what they do and what their goals are. Sit down with your team to determine the measurable objectives of your training programs and how they will move the company forward. Then, decide what your team should be doing to reach those targets; those tasks will be the basis of your ask.
The SMART approach is a good place to start if you’re unsure of how to set clear goals for your team. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. You can also use Kirkpatrick’s model to determine the kinds of measurement that are important for your company and predict ROI.
If you don’t have a clear picture of the direction in which your company intends to grow, ask someone. That understanding should give you a better idea of how to present your objectives so that they align with the interests of your stakeholders.
Step Two: Think About What Activities Are Necessary
At this point, it’s wise to take a look at where your team’s time is dedicated. Ask questions about the activities you do. Would anyone notice if that metrics report were sent out less frequently? Is that tedious process you spend dozens of hours on worth the that time? If you don’t already, it might be worth asking team members to turn in reports on how they’re spending their time to gain a better understanding of whether they’re spending it on the most critical activities.
This process will help you determine how much of a budget to ask for. Looking into how you’re spending your resources and where you’re willing to adjust will also prove to stakeholders that you’re not asking for money without due cause – the funds will play a necessary role in making your training department more effective.
Step Three: Create a Proposal
One of the most important things to ensure when writing your budget proposal is that the final budget request and training goals are aligned. That alignment will clarify what you’re asking for and why. You’ll also want to focus on the company pain points that you unearthed in earlier steps.
There’s a lot of advice out there on writing a great business proposal. Try to remain concise and keep your audience in mind. Likely, especially at bigger companies, the person approving your budget will have to justify the money to his or her own higher-ups. Give them great justification.
Step Four: Schedule a Meeting
According to a Harvard Business Review article, people who make business proposals in person are more likely to impress their audience. Schedule a meeting, and present your proposal in person. It’s easy to ignore an email but much harder to ignore an in-person request. In person, you can also have a conversation and explain your needs. You can answer questions, and you can also gather feedback on your proposal if it’s unsuccessful.
Make sure you schedule this meeting at a low-stress time, when your audience can give your proposal proper attention. The middle of the busiest month of the year is not a time when your stakeholders will be receptive to requests for money.
Hopefully, this guide makes the prospect of asking for more money a little less intimidating. Most companies are willing to spend a little for the sake of ROI. Good luck!