As we approach the end of a difficult year for our lab, we are facing some important budget shortfalls. I think I have to make some difficult and unpopular decisions from a budget tattered by unexpected issues related to the global pandemic. How do I make these difficult decisions?
I’m sorry that you’re continuing to face difficult budget decisions this year. Here are a couple of ideas that can help. First, prioritize the lab’s needs. You clearly can’t do everything you wanted, or planned. Decide what the most important things to buy are. Get input from your staff about which items are a priority. Use the data you have to help build and support the prioritization. Making data-driven decisions will help you make better decisions, and make them easier to explain to lab staff. At a certain priority level, either limited funds or no funds will be left to pay for those things. You can also reach out to key customers or stakeholders. Maybe they can accept some delays, or limited-scope projects that will help with your prioritization. Second, communicate the budget decisions clearly and concisely, while referencing the data and inputs used to make the decisions. Explaining why the decisions were made and letting people see how the decisions were made will help them understand your rationale and priorities.