Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Is the IT budgeting process an abortion?

Some of my friends who are employed by software vendors periodically pick my brain to gain a perspective on enterprise thinking (NOTE: They do not ask about my employer as this would be a conflict of interest) and would like insights into understanding the budgeting process. Lately, I have been of the mindset that I know longer want to champion agile methods for software development as the bean counters and process weenies need agility more than any IT person...

Nowadays, everyone understands that Waterfall simply doesn't work and iteration is required yet we still do budgeting in a monolithic way. I have been known to say that I can walk into any enterprise and assess their architecture without actually looking at it by simply studying their general ledger and budgeting process. So, how come agilists haven't asked themselves how the agile manifesto can help remove the mental handcuffs from process weenies and bean counters?

The solution to the problem of IT alignment with the business, at least from a financial perspective may be to budget on the fly. You have a rough idea how much things are going to cost, but you're flexible. If a project gets canceled, you can roll its budget into another. Taken to an extreme, annual budgets are made only to acquire resources per year like programmers, programmer time and pens. These resources are allocated on a need to use basis. Conflicting requests are decided on the fly by management (it is their job, after all).

Have you ever asked yourself why IT continuously without failure blows budgets? Now ask yourself how does financing work in your own personal life? Do you figure out a year in advance, how many cartoons of milk and gallons of gas you are going to buy?

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