When we are given financial control of any kind, we are spending other people's money. This is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, and should be remembered when approving a new license, funding a project, hiring new staff or putting together a multi-year budget.
I like to reverse the situation in my head and think to myself - What level of consideration, due diligence and planning would I expect from someone that was spending My money? Would they ensure I had enough money to pay my Mortgage or Rent, Would they make sure I could pay the lease payments on my car so that I could get to work. How would they help me save enough money to pay for that Holiday or go on the training course that I needed to help with my promotion?
When we were putting together a plan for the year, I’d expect them to allocate enough money from the pot to cover the ‘Must Do’ items. These would be the items I considered strategic, or that I couldn't do without.
At a high level I’d like them to lease things that depreciated or were obsolete quickly, and I’d like them to buy things that appreciated, had strong long term use or were critical enablers to my daily life.
If I was looking to try something new or make a big change in my life, I’d expect them to invest small amounts until we had proven that I wanted to make the change or go in a new direction. If this meant trying several different things at once I would not expect them to invest the same amount of money in the more risky items as they did in those that we understood well.
If they thought I should try something completely off the wall, I’d expect them to be able to prove to me why they thought it was a good idea and how it would move me closer to my goals.
If we had recurring spends I’d like them to make sure I was getting the best value for my money. Either by reducing the per item spend or by getting more capability for my money.
Finally, I’d like them to keep a little back to cover unexpected events like finding out that we need a bigger car as there is a new baby on the way or having my wallet stolen.
Spending other people's money deserves thoughtful consideration and appropriate control as it is a privilege not a right. Creation and investment of an IT budget can make or break a company, enable or disable the achievement of strategic objectives and galvanise or dishearten a workforce.