Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
I'm a Driver, I'm a Winner/Things are Going to Change, I Can Feel It...

Tuesday, December 17, 2002  

Just when you think you've got your ducks in a row and everything's starting to work, a monkey wrench flies out of nowhere and staves in your skull. That's what it felt like today when I found out our dear corporate parent decided to give transfer ownership for our telecom trunks at our headquarters. I had some idea this was coming and was told, "Oh, your usage is only a couple hundred dollars a month." Hey, I can deal with that. Got the bill yesterday and, well, let's just say the coffee spewing across my cherrywood desk signaled my disgust. $2,500 extra dollars per month. Good freakin' night! This is the kind of utter folly that destroys a good month's worth of hard labor by breaking my budget. Why is that important? In an earlier post I mentioned that budgets are fictional and there's a good chance that the expected revenue for next year will not materialze and that cuts will be expected around mid-year.

What to do, what to do? Every month my boss and I get the budgeted vs. actual spending reports. I'm measured in two categories -- how much I spent or saved for each budget line and the overall "bottom line" for the entire department. Transgressions in the former are forgiven for surpluses in the latter. Knowing that I'm screwed at this point, I have to make some real cuts. However, by timing the cash flow properly and delaying projects, I can show surpluses over most of that period while I'm simultaneously negotiating better deals with some contracts that come up for renewal or canceling them all-together. My options are left open until later in the year.

Nowhere is this more useful than with the capital budget. Most of our capital budget this year is for replacements -- PC's, printers and servers. Some of those PC's need to be replaced before upgrading desktops to W2K, some of the printers are killing us on maintenance costs as they approach the million page mark and the servers will need to be upgraded this year if we expect to implement the centralized desktop model. If not, we could skimp (although I really wanted those blade servers).

Of course, it could be argued that with personnel at about 34% of our budget I should let someone go. After all, that's the quickest way to reduce costs. Here's the deal -- it's my fundamental belief that with all the time, effort and energy the company spends on developing a person to be what the it needs is wasted when a person is booted out the door. Especially an IT employee. If I let a staff member go I have just lost 20% of the knowledge, creativity and energy my department had. That's just stupid.

At the end of the day I would prefer to keep the company train running on rusted wheels than abandon all the engineers. Yeah, we'll move more slowly. At least the damned wheels won't come off.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 12/17/2002 07:17:00 PM

Comments: Post a Comment
the author
open source