Development Budget


If you company's financial calendar follows the regular calendar, that means budget's get refreshed on Jan 1. Which means now is probably a good time to talk about Professional Development Budgets.


There really are two tactics you can take here - you can do one of the two or both, depending on your comfort level.


First, as year end approaches, budgets are being looked at closely by managers. Where is my spending too much and where too little (there actually are those areas). With the whole COVID situation this year, don't be surprised if development or travel budgets for the team have some excess funds. This is a great time to ask to attend a virtual class, buy a book, subscribe to a development service, etc. If there is money to be spent, $140 is a great investment.


Note: Managers rarely get rewarded for being far under budget. Usually, accounting doesn't applaud your ability to control finances, they simply say "you get less money next year because you didn't spend it". I'm not saying you should make the case to blow the money uselessly, but don't think that managers are incentivized to be way under budget.


Second, think about next year and start to have discussions with your team. What should you be asking or planning for in the budget? You may not know about in person conferences for next year, but ask your team to think about how they plan on developing if they can't attend things in person. Books, subscriptions, online classes, etc. The more you know now, the better you can justify and use budget.


Every company's budget process is different, so your mileage may vary. However, the more specific you are, the better. Most budget processes I know of are more complex and full of more deception than a Cold War spy ring. A great documentary would be following various managers as they navigate the budget process in their company. You'd be amazed. The one thing that helps is if you can clearly identify how and why money will be spent. Requesting $10,000 for development costs with no concrete plans is less effective than asking for $10,000 and being able to describe exactly how that money will be spent.