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Tips for Preparing Your Department of Public Works Budget

Grace Flack
  • Jun 12, 2017
  • 3 minute read

Struggling with preparing your Department of Public Works budget? Get some tips to help you vie for more resources in this blog post.


Budgeting can be a hassle no matter your department within government. It takes lots of time and effort to prepare, and what if you don't get approval for what you really want or need?

That's why it's critical to have the best direction and data going into preparing your Department of Public Works budget to ensure you get the resources you deserve.

Here are our tips for how to help build the business case for the importance of your department and the work you do on a daily basis.


Be thorough and specific

Public works may be your job the rest of the year, but when it comes to justifying your budget, you have to be salesmen. You have to sell your council and leadership on the mission and vision for your department.  Remember,  appeal to their emotions, but justify it with data. 

The National Safety Council suggests including the following when making the business case for your budget:

  • Definition of the problem and desired outcome
  • Both direct costs or benefits of a project
  • Specific ideas for practical implementation of your ideas
  • Program elements
  • Comparisons to other organizations
  • Consequences for non-action or non-compliance
  • Discussion of alternative solutions
  • List of constraints

This list provides a great start to outline the beginning to end of what your budget will need to cover. It's important that you're as specific as possible with your needs, current projects and workflow. This will help everyone make the best decisions when it comes to budgeting.


Understand how your needs relate to the public's needs

Even though your day-to-day work may not directly involve citizens, it directly affects them nonetheless. It's important to remember when creating your budget that the No.1 concern for your city council and management is the public. Everything that you do should tie back to improving their life and your community.

That's why you need to show them how your budget and needs align with theirs and the public. How will your next project help keep people safe or add to their daily lives? These are the type of points that management will want to hear and will help convince them to add more resources to allow your team to provide better service.

How should you set up your budget document? Check out this resource for help.


Show your work

Management and city officials (like most people) don’t mind doubling down on a sure bet. If leadership can see how you're being savvy with your resources, they won't mind allocating more. This means preparing specific reports and presenting data that is easy to understand and related specifically to your needs. A CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) with robust reporting capabilities can help you prepare reports in minutes.

Utilize the data and reports from your systems to show your effectiveness and needs. Don’t hesitate to ask your software vendors for help. They should be able to assist with the reporting process and show key reports to help you win over your leadership team. Remember, it's their job to help you be successful — that’s why you purchase their products.


Build your case confidently

Building your business case is not as scary as you might think. Business cases can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. You just need to show a logical path supported by data as to why a particular investment makes sense. 

See an example of Quinte West's DPW's budget proposal.

Learn more about our software solutions for government organizations to simplify your budgeting process.

Interested in learning about how our software works for you?

Or want to ask a question?

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