Is your budget
bloated? Bottom line sagging? Format looking tired? The
following exercises will keep your accounting practices in the
MIND THE “GAAP”
GAAP stands for Generally Accepted
Accounting Principles (www.fasab.gov). If you don’t yet know them, learn them
and put them to use. Following GAAP ensures that each of your
budgets will be formatted with the language and logic of nearly
every accounting department you could possibly encounter. By using
them, you will impress your financial department (and executives)
and ensure a level of professional synchronicity.
Is it important to price out every
croissant, roll and donut? Not really. However, be consistent with
regard to how and where you break down certain line items. For
example: Will your A/V section be one lump sum, or will you have
each breakout room detailed, with each piece of equipment priced
You always can link more detailed
itemization to your primary budget summary on separate, coordinated
spreadsheets or in hidden columns. The key is to have clean,
easy-to-read summaries with the option for the reader to click on a
specific line item to obtain more details.
Should you include hotel rebates and/or
commissions in your budget? Accountants and attorneys continue to
debate whether hotel rebates/commissions should be placed above or
below the line (referring to the area below the official
Conservative financial professionals
prefer not to factor commissions/rebates into profits (when
considering profit and loss) for the following reasons: It’s a
commission, and some companies have very specific regulations on
such practices; commissions are never guaranteed, and the amounts
can fluctuate wildly. One thing all financial professionals agree
on is that meeting planners should follow their individual
company’s policy on commissions and where they should be reported
It’s best to work with one budget for
each event. If people other than yourself have access to it, be
sure they indicate changes they input and have them initial the
changes. Be sure each time the budget is changed or updated, the
new version of the budget is marked accordingly (for example: “ACME
sales meeting budget, version 12”).
A budget should look professional,
especially when it is being shared with clients and/or top brass.
Be sure it is neat and easy-to-read, which is much more important
than trying to make it look good by adding fancy graphic details.
If you use GAAP as your blueprint, it will be difficult to go
Is it OK to use either Excel or Quicken
for managing your events, even if everyone else in your company
uses a different system for their financial needs? Yes, as long as
it is acceptable to your CFO and your documents can be uploaded
easily and accurately to your financial department’s primary (often
Excel and Quicken are powerful tools in
their own right and easier for professionals without a background
in finance to navigate and maneuver. In addition, they can generate
a respectable number of reports, limited only by your own knowledge
of the product.
A common mistake a lot of companies
make is to attempt to force the wrong accounting software on the
wrong project(s). Very often, the software is either too robust or
not robust enough.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is
senior event operations manager with George P. Johnson Experience
Marketing in San Carlos, Calif.