Sunday, May 6, 2012


Here I go again--for the third Sunday in a row, I'm staring down barrel of another potentially awful week of work.  Will things continue to go defy expectations for the good?  I sure hope so, because tomorrow was supposed to be a day of semi-celebration, but things took a turn for the south on Friday.

Once again, last week exceeded my wildest hopes and dreams.  Once all the pieces of the budget were in place on Monday afternoon, it looked like the total story would be relatively acceptable...not spectacular, but we wouldn't be sharing terrible news, which would make things much simpler.  Despite the not-so-terrible message, by the time Thursday rolled around and it was time to present the budget yet again, I was prepared to get bombarded with questions.

Me and the other guys in my group once again agreed on shirt colors on Wednesday, and we all showed up in yellow for the presentation.  Apparently it's tough to get mad at a wall of sunshine, because things went unbelievably well.  The strangeness of our attire--accompanied by a few more "Three Stooges" remarks--lightened the atmosphere right from the start, and we barely had to answer any questions, even on the portions of PowerPoint that included less-then-spectacular news.  So much for the probing and prodding I'd been fearing for three weeks--we were out of the room early!

Then Friday happened.  I was working furiously on putting together a slightly different version of the PowerPoint for our final presentation of this *&#$ budget (final of the month, anyway) on Monday morning.  Then an email arrived informing us all that the total add-up across all the divisions didn't come out as planned, and we might have to rework some assumptions and basically re-do everything on Monday to reduce the overall expense estimate. I knew something like this would was hardly a surprise, but it didn't make the situation any less frustrating.

The part that will never make sense to me is that we're supposed to be building an unbiased forecast of cost of goods sold expense.  We're essentially providing our best guess on what it will cost to manufacture products X, Y, and Z next year.  There's no incentive for me to guess high or low--I just take the available inputs and call it like I see it.  If, at the end of the day, we're going to end up being told what our estimate needs to be, why do we spend all this time estimating?  If someone could have told me right away what that final COGS estimate should be, I'll happily take back the past three months of pain.

Once again, I have to bite my tongue to avoid screaming at anyone who will listen that putting numbers in a spreadsheet has absolutely no bearing on actual cost of goods sold expense.  Seems to me like we're just setting ourselves up for disappointment and bad news.  I think I'm going to try to pulling something like this on the weatherman next time I see a forecast I don't like:

" 22?  I see your 7-day forecast calls for snow and freezing temperatures.  I don't like that, so tell me it's going to be 90s and sunny, okay?"  The forecast causes the weather...right?

The absurdity of the situation I previously mentioned, we're already scheduled to rework everything in early June when the fiscal year ends.  Now we're going to redo the past two weeks of work, then wait two more weeks and redo the past four weeks of work.  Any reason we couldn't just be patient and rework stuff once...or maybe not at all?  That would make way too much sense...

This nonsense would suggest that the presentation scheduled for tomorrow morning would be delayed, but that's not the case.  We get to go through the effort of finalizing this presentation, walking into the room and declaring, "Here's the budget you've been waiting months to get a look at!  By the way, I should mention that this is going to get overhauled in the next few hours, so everything I'm about to tell you irrelevant."  That shouldn't annoy anyone...and we'll look like geniuses!

I now sit at the second eye of this hurricane, and I'm wondering if more storms are headed my way.  As of noon tomorrow, we were supposed to be celebrating the completion of the toughest part of May's grueling budgeting process.  But now that meeting looks to be a pointless and potentially embarrassing mess that will officially kick off a slurry of entirely unnecessary rework.  That improving outlook for the future that was growing inside me last Sunday is now shrinking at an alarming pace...

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