Anyone who has any budgeting responsibility should attend Cutter Senior Consultant Johanna Rothman’s session, The Budgeting Black Hole: Predicting the Unpredictable, at Agile2011 next week. I had a chance to speak with Johanna yesterday. I asked her not only whether “agile budgeting” was possible, but also why she even chose to address this topic.
AM: Why “budgeting” at Agile2011? Is this a burning topic?
JR: I chose that topic because there are just too many managers running around trying to predict the future with a budget and it’s just plain crazy. Why should they have to do that? They can’t.
AM: Why does it seem so often like budgeting is just an exercise in frustration? Does it really have to be this way?
JR: No, it doesn’t need to be – and shouldn’t be — frustrating! Your budget doesn’t need to look like a project schedule. Nor does it need to be out-of-date as soon as it’s done! You can take an agile approach to budgeting in a similar way as you take an agile approach to projects, programs, and the project portfolio. The key is, you do need to assess the project portfolio and watch the projects deliver incremental value as you proceed.
In her session on Monday afternoon, you’ll have a chance to watch work that delivers value and helps predict the budget and also watch the work that does not help predict budgets. That should help you avoid budgeting frustration on your next project.