The Role and Effects of Budgeting. Beyond Budgeting

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Introduction

The recent change in contextual accounting in Europe is to adopt a distinct approach in place of traditional budgeting. This approach has been recommended given the shortcomings of the traditional budgeting exercise. Literature has identified budgeting as an important control tool in the hands of the management (Anthony & Govindarajan, 1998). To treat budgeting, as a management, control is an accounting-based view of control and in this case, the organization tends to view the strategic planning as a separate focus area (Hansen et al, 2003). Researchers like Wallander, (1999) and Hope and Fraser (2003) question the usefulness of budgeting and claim that budgets lead to an improper allocation of organizational resources and result in narrow-minded decision-making in organizational problems. They argue that budgeting also leads to dysfunctional budget games, which are detrimental to organizational growth. There is continued research-based support to the argument that there are shortcomings and challenges in relying on budgets as a management control tool (Hansen et al, 2003; Lukka, 1988). Based on this view several companies have moved away from treating budgeting as a control mechanism and they have started adopting alternative systems to control and monitor organizational performance and to measure such performance to take corrective measures. Significant contributions have been made by the approach of “Beyond Budgeting” developed by Hope and Fraser, (1997, 2000, and 2003) and the Balanced Scorecard model promoted by Kaplan and Norton (1992, 2001) to the thinking of reducing the involvement of budgeting in organizational control. The setting up and measurement of non-financial performance targets in addition to the financial performance targets is the specialty of the balanced scorecard approach. Simon (1995) has developed a “levers of control framework” which has the advantage of combining the focus on strategy with different control mechanisms to enable the organizations to achieve superior performance. In this context, this paper attempts to identify the shortcomings of traditional budgeting exercises and how the removal of budgeting is likely to influence the control and monitoring functions in any organization.

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Budgeting in the Traditional Context – an Overview

Traditionally budgeting has been considered as a common accounting tool to present the divisional objectives of an organization in monetary terms. Additionally, the budget assumes the position of an integral part of the management control systems of an organization. The objectives of budgeting in such an instance covered the promotion of coordination and communication among various organizational subunits and providing a framework for the measurement of organizational performance. It also is expected to motivate the managers and employees (Horngren et al., 2002). According to Finney, (1993) in the traditional context, budgeting is regarded as an exercise that supplies information and concentrates on outcomes. The budgeting provides the exact climate for effective business decisions, excellence in operations, and controls and monitors all activities in an organization. Budgeting is an intelligent and timely aid for organizations. Budgeting can be employed directly to assist downsizing of the organizations, integration of new acquisitions, pricing and initiating reengineering of organizational activities which are performed ineffectively or which have not been budgeted properly. Campbell (1985) observes that if the organizational objectives are to be achieved it is essential that both the technical and behavioral aspects of budgeting are recognized. The behavioral aspects of good budgeting practices can normally be identified from the business and management control literature. The budgetary control is defined to include the processes of planning, controlling, coordinating, and motivation through monetary expression of organizational objectives communicated to different departments within the organization (Buckley & McKenna, 1972). Budgeting usually takes the form of quantitative and monetary plans drafted for one year. According to Hofstede, (1968) the budgetary control is the organizational planning process translated into monetary objectives. The essence of the budgetary control process is the influencing of the management behavior by establishing set performance standards and monitoring the achievement of these standards established.

Budgets as Targets

Since budgets represent conclusive and quantitative targets for assessing the performance of the employees, they can be used easily in employee evaluation and motivation. To use budgets for control purposes the managers must consider the behavioral aspects of budgeting very carefully. Since budgets signify predetermined performance standards, the managers should take utmost care in fixing the budget targets. The aim here is that the budget performance standards satisfy the top management of their ever-increasing demand for revenue growth and the wishes of the employees to have such standards that are attainable but not too difficult. The psychological approach to budgeting suggests that the budgets are made efficient by setting the most difficult standards acceptable to the employees. The next step is to internalize the standards and make them accepted by the employees as their own personal goals. However as it is observed by many managers it would be impracticable to put this advice into practice. This is the reason several studies have been conducted in this respect to help the managers to handle these issues.

Sterdy, (1960) was the first to study the budget difficulty and the level of aspiration of the individual to perform. Sterdy, (1960) observed that the performance level of the individual worker is often conditional on whether the budget is imposed. In case the budget standard is imposed then the performance level is linked to the level of difficulty involved in attaining the budget. There can be an improvement in the performance of the managers if the budget levels are made in tune with the motivational structures of the individual managers. There are additional criticisms leveled against budgeting in that budgets are considered as too time-consuming and they are found to impose a vertical command-and-control structure, which is found unsuitable to the present-day business environment that is constantly changing. Budgeting is criticized based on its characteristics of creating a centralized decision-making (an outdated management practice), curtailing the initiatives of the subordinates and focusing only on cost reduction rather than creating firm value. Budgeting with its character of creating a vertical line of command and control and aiding centralized decision-making is incompatible with flat, network or value chain-based organizational designs. Traditional budgeting also impedes the empowerment of employees for better decision-making (Hope and Fraser, 2003; Hansen et al, 2003; Wallander, 1999).

Shields et al., (2000) in their study observed that the degree of subordinate participation in a standard setting largely influences the standard-based incentives and standard tightness. The effects of these control system components are indirect on job performance through the intervening variable of job-related stress. Even the latest studies on the relationship of the budget standards, performance and motivation have relied largely on earlier studies and no new views have been brought out by the latest studies. For instance, Fisher et al., (2003) confirmed that both motivation and performance could be enhanced by budget levels, which are moderately difficult and by the engagement of tools like group-based linear contracts.

However, it is a fact that not all the companies in the real world stick to the general recommendations that come from the accounting theory. Kenneth & Manzoni, (1989) found that a vast majority of the budgets drafted for the profit centers which were the subject matter of study, were challenging. The study also found that such budgets are still attainable with the consistent efforts of the management team. This finding is in contrast to the established principles and conventional wisdom that the budget targets are always missed more often than they are achieved. This anomaly is explained by the authors using the argument that budgeting is a system in itself instead of a part of the wider corporate plan and control system where the achievement of corporate goals is linked to several other factors like employee compensation, role of accounting measures in performance measurement and soundness of the structure of the organization. In this way, the authors confirm that the budgeting system is something that is customized to meet the individual needs of the specific firms and cannot be treated as a generic model that can be used for different companies by copying down from one another.

Studies have shown that the criticisms about the control aspects are more relevant for organizations functioning in business environments, which are rapidly changing (Bescos et al., 2003). There is the need for a more dynamic form of budgeting or financial planning like rolling forecasts is required in the case of entities requiring high level of autonomy and a low level of predictability in forecasting. However in respect of organizations, which operate with a low degree of autonomy and higher level of predictability in forecasts are found to be comfortable with traditional budgeting techniques. Therefore, the criticisms about budgeting do not apply to these organizations.

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Budget Participation

Lowe and Shaw (1968) in their study highlighted the issues of participation and performance measurement within the timeframe of the budget period, as some of the important behavioral issues. They found that the forecasts were linked to what the managers wished to hear and represented their personal self-interest in terms of compensation and promotion opportunities for them.

The time frame for the budgeting process whether short or longer durations is an issue that has been subjected to several studies such as one by Merchant, (1990) who has observed the side effects of the pressure to meet the short-term budget standards. The study by Merchant (1990) has found evidence to prove that the short-term pressure to meet the budget results has even led to an environment of data manipulation. Merchant and Manzoni (1989) also have confirmed this position and they observed that the managers faced the prospects of losing the resources, bonuses, and even their jobs if there is a failure on their part to meet the short-term results successfully. Allen, (1998) describes the rapid technological and other changes to present-day business environment and argues that the changes in the business environment make the traditional rigid approaches to the budgetary control obsolete and pointless. He opines that it is no longer of any use if the actual results are compared with any forecasted standards fixed up to 15 months before the budget period.

Kaplan and Norton (1996) while introducing the Balanced Score Card approach have linked it to the budget process. They also have focused on a notion of a relationship between the short-term operational and long-term strategic requirements. The balanced scorecard approach breaks down the overall strategy of the company into operational levels, which are capable of being measured to assess the effectiveness of the performance of various functional areas. According to Kaplan and Norton (1996), the operational drivers of change can be related to long-term strategic focus. This long-term strategic focus may as well be broken down into budgetary processes capable of being measured with short-term perspectives.

The importance of participation in budget setting has widely been indicated by the accounting literature. The participation of middle and lower-level managers in the budgeting process will have two beneficial effects on the organizational functioning. First, it is possible to reduce the information asymmetry in the organization by encouraging a wider participation in the budgeting. This also enables the top management to have a deeper insight into the issues, which the lower-level managers have specialized knowledge. The second benefit lies in bringing the greater commitment from the lower-level managers to execute the budget plan and meet the budget standards (Welsh et al., 1988). “Participation is a process that can be used for planning and goal setting when there is environmental uncertainty, for motivating subordinates when there is task uncertainty and for coordinating interdependence when there is task interdependence”(Shields & Shields, 1998). Argyris, (1952) claims participation is the main solution to the issues emanating from the dysfunctional behavior of the employees.

However, participative budgeting does also has its own inherent dangers. Young, (1985) claims that some of the managers may misuse the opportunities provided by participation to make a reduction in the budgetary expectation from them and to bias the budget estimates they submit to the management.

The ways in which the budgets are administered have large influence on their effectiveness in enabling an organization to achieve its objectives. The budget in any organization can be identified to have the dual role of providing a forecast of its business plans and a yardstick for measuring the performance of the management. Since the budget is used as a tool for effectively measuring the managerial performance, it can be said to be used as a tool for control. Further if the performance is linked with an incentive for better performance or punishment for poor performance there will be a general tendency for the managers to distort the information being passed on to the superiors so that the unfavorable items are eliminated altogether or under-emphasized. Such distortion of information for personal benefits can be viewed as undesirable and counterproductive from the organizational perspective.

Pressure

As per the traditional approach to budgeting, the human beings associated with an organization will always regard their work as burdensome and unpleasant. This would make them shirk their responsibilities and hence they would normally employ inefficient and wasteful methods of doing their works. Such conceptual thinking about the human behavior had led to a different approach to the budgetary process which emphasized that the human beings had to be provided with greater responsibilities and a great deal of pressure needed to be applied on them to make them realize such responsibilities and perform to achieve the desired results.

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Behavioral research has however proved while pressure on human beings to some limited extent is beneficial and would support the performance, excess pressure might lead only to frustration of individuals. Thus, a budget can be regarded as an effective motivational tool so long as it represents a challenging but attainable goal with extra efforts. If it is too demanding from the individuals, it leads only to frustration and conflicts among the players. On the other hand, if it is too lax it develops complacency in the individuals.

Credibility

In any budgeting environment, there are chances of the budget being regarded as arbitrary. It may add suspicion to the people who are concerned with the budget. To make the budget more credible the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • The standards of performance should be calculated scientifically by employing tools like work and motion study and other engineering studies.
  • The standards of performance need to be evaluated using a joint and participative process wherein all the operating personnel, administrative staff and finance department staff are involved.

Conflicts and Sub-optimization

In most the organizations, the budgeting process normally leads to a narrow and department-oriented outlook. The concern for departmental excellence in performance might result in inter-departmental conflicts, which will be detrimental to the growth of the company. Especially in a system of responsible budgeting, the primary objective of the departmental head is to enhance the performance of the department. In order to ensure that his department or section shows a better performance the production manager may resort to producing a production mix, which may not actually conform to the requirements of the marketing manager. Another example to the point may be seen from the action of the credit manager not extending the credit facility to certain customers of the company in order to improve his performance over the collection period, though such action by the credit manager might result in the increased profitability of the company. There are many such instances in the budgeting process and this behavior may be referred to as sub-optimization.

In order to overcome the sub-optimization issues, the organization may attempt to integrate the departmental or sectional goals with the overall organizational goals. Similarly, the evaluation of the performance of the individual department should be linked to the overall performance achievement of the organization. This may require the use of both qualitative and quantitative measures of performance.

Budget Slack

Dunk & Perera, (1977) based on a study of the relationship between budget participation and budget slack argue that the budget slack is nothing but the difference between the budget and the one that is necessary. Dunk & Perera, (1977) define slack as the amount that the subordinates understate with respect to their production capacity while fixing the standards against which the performance of the subordinates will be evaluated. Therefore, slack can be construed as the phenomenon that relate to the overstatement of expenses or understatement of revenues in a budgeting process. As it relates to the performance of the subordinates, it can also be inferred that slack is subject to the influence of an individual or group of individuals. Van Der Stede, (2000) on the study of the recent budgeting process, focused on the short-term orientation of the budget slack.

Managers normally resorted to the slack in their desire to ensure that their actual performance does not fall below the budgeted standards. This means that the manager would like to avoid unfavorable variance, which will be viewed as a sign of his ineffective performance. Hence, when the manager is involved in the budgeting process he will have the tendency to include a slack or buffer to minimize the chances of failure. By using slack, the production manager would make an overestimation of the costs; the sales manager would understate the potential sales for the budget period; the finance manager would try to maintain an extra cash balance to meet any emergencies. The slack also enables a manager to pursue his personal goals in addition to the organizational objectives.

It is always advisable to allow the managers to use some amount of slack, as it provides them the elbow room to utilize it effectively to reduce the conflicts between the individual performance standards and the organizational performance. Hence, slack may be viewed as the necessary element for making budgeting systems function effectively. Although slack is considered generally indispensable, it entails certain costs to the company. Slack has a tendency to increase at times when the organization is going through a prosperous pace. Therefore, the organization needs to apply the brakes when the slack has a tendency to cross the permissible limits. The company should take concrete efforts consciously to contain slack within the optimal level – a level at which the efficiency is high and the conflicts are kept at the tolerable situation.

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Reward and Punishment

The budgetary control system has the best utility when used to reward good performance of the managers and the subordinates and when punishing the employees for their sub-optimal performance. There are different ways of rewarding good performance. When good performance is identified in the form of favorable variances, the employee may be rewarded by offering high monetary compensation, promotions and advancement in the organizational hierarchy and by officially recognizing the good work done. The punishments for poor performance which would be exposed by the unfavorable variances may take the form of loss of increments, withholding of promotions or transfer to positions of lesser importance or level. In cases of extremely bad performance, the employee may be asked to leave the organization by resigning forthwith.

While administering the rewards and punishments it is important that the budget standards be worked out on certain estimations and expectations, which might not have materialized. Therefore, while determining the rewards and punishments, the actual conditions that prevailed at the time of performance by the individuals should be considered in arriving at the levels of reward, and punishment. The organization should not have a complete reliance on the budget standards for establishing the rewards and punishment levels for the subordinates.

Complete adherence to such standards may:

  1. may make the managers become over-conscious at the time of budget preparation and
  2. may also make them indulge in actions, which may prove detrimental to the growth of the business of the company in the light of actual conditions.

It is necessary that the reward and punishment system must motivate the managers to behave in the best interests of the firm. The system should be such that it neither creates undue fear in the minds of the managers and subordinates nor disorient their initiative to make them act in a manner that will not be beneficial to the firm.

Shortcomings of Budgeting

Covaleski et al., (2003) observe that budgeting is a centralized coordinated activity at the organizational level. It is used for allocation of organizational resources, coordinating activities, providing higher level of motivation to employees and guiding decision-making at the divisional levels. Budgeting is considered attractive by the management, because of its content of multiplicity of goals and applications. Budgeting has been deeply ingrained in many of the organizations’ systems because of these distinct advantages. Despite these advantages, several practitioners and academicians have criticized budgeting based on several disadvantages and possible dysfunctioning of budgets and budgeting process. “Budgets are also abstractions of reality: they do not fully represent the complexities and dynamics of corporate strategy, nor do they portray all relevant dimensions of the production processes,” (MCA, 2007). These shortcomings are responsible for many of the practical problems associated with budgeting in modern-day business organizations. These shortcomings can be grouped under the following three areas. In fact, these are the fundamental lacunae in the budgeting that the advocates of “Beyond Budgeting” approach indicate as reasons for their claim to abolish budgeting.

  1. Problems associated with Budgetary Planning: Traditional budgeting is based on assumptions, which are outdated and unsupported. This is the case when the budget planning is used in uncertain environments or when applied to decision-making in complex organizational settings.
  2. Problems associated with Budget Language: The fundamental shortcoming with budgets is that it stresses the financial dimension predominantly leaving strategically important issues. The central focus of budgeting is short-term in nature in addressing the cost reduction targets instead of broader organizational aspects of value creation. At times budgeting leads to acts of gambling and perverse behaviors, detrimental to organizational growth.
  3. Problems associated with Control through Budget: Budgeting strengthens vertical line of command-and-control relations. It not only reinforces departmental barriers but also hinders information flow and exchange. It constraints responsiveness of the employees and impose strong barriers to change.

Managers have to spend considerable time in concluding the budgeting processes. According to Waal et al., (2005), Dutch companies spend between 10 to 16 weeks on an average in the preparation of annual budgets. Depending on the intensity of the above-mentioned three problems, managers or other decision-makers in the organization may realize that the efforts put in the generation of budgets do not provide improvement to the organizational values commensurately. Study conducted by Waal et al., (2005) reported only 27% of the respondent companies were satisfied with the utility of the current operating system.

The following table shows some of the issues identified by the respondents and the respective percentage of companies who reported the problems.

Problems Associated with Budgeting Percentage of Companies
Process takes too much time 53%
Too infrequent 32%
Produces information that is outdated quickly 29%
This leads to overspending behavior 23%
Makes budgeters less Ambitious 17%

Ekholm & Wallin, (2000) out of a study conducted on Finnish firms found 25% of the respondents wanted to retain the existing budgeting system, 61% wanted improvements to the system and 14% wanted to abolish budgeting for some reason or other.

Alternative Proposals to Budgeting System

In view of the problems of budgeting discussed above, practitioners and academics have suggested two alternative proposals to mitigate issues relating to the budgeting and budgeting process. One of the solutions is to bring significant improvements to the existing budgeting system and the other is to altogether abolish the budgeting system and replace it with some sophisticated control systems aligned with long-term strategies of the organization. Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing – International (CAM-I) has provided both solutions. CAM-I is a non-profit organization, which promotes collective studies for solutions to management problems and critical business issues. Several manufacturing and service companies, government organizations, consultancy organizations and academic and professional bodies undertake such studies. Activity-Based Budgeting (ABB) wing of the US-based CAM-I suggests measures to improve budgeting to overcome the problems relating to budgetary planning, budget language and budgetary control. ABB offers these suggestions by relating these three budgeting issues more to the operations of the firm. This group advocates the use of Activity Based Costing methods to develop an overall operational plan before the organization proceeds to finalize its budgets. Factors like decisions about volume of products, required level of organizational activities, resource consumption levels, and total production capacity of the firm form the basis of the operational plan. The overall plan, which is operationally feasible, is transformed into a financial plan. This financial plan is fine-tuned to fit into the overall financial planning and required financial outcomes of the firm (Hansen & Torok, 2004).

Beyond Budgeting

The European-based Beyond Budgeting Round Table (BBRT) group suggests a different approach to solve the problems of budgeting. They recommend abolishing budgeting and replacing it with a more decentralized decision-making system by empowering local managers. They also recommend replacing performance evaluation through budgeting with relative performance contracts entered into with the key executives, with a possibility to review the terms based on actual performance. The objective of this approach is to provide an opportunity for the management to introduce strategy-related planning and control mechanisms. Advocates of ‘Beyond Budgeting’ (BB) model present their concept as “a new coherent management model”. (Hope & Fraser, 2003) This model originated from the experiences of Swedish bank Svenska Handelsbanken. In this model “centralized planning and results control, both cornerstones of traditional budgeting, are substituted by centrally defined business principles and constraints, and by personnel and clan-based controls like employee selection, training, and shared values.”

The following are the most important principles of BB:

  1. Decision making is decentralized in the hands of empowered local units
  2. Corporate management follows the principles of best business practices and clan-based controls
  3. Relative performance assessment through hindsight and
  4. Financial rewards are organizationally based and non-financial rewards are unit-based.

However, many other practitioners question the necessity, feasibility and adaptability of BB principles. “Not all companies may benefit from radical decentralization, especially when knowledge is concentrated in some units and internal cooperation between operational units is required. In other companies it may be difficult finding comparable benchmark units to make relative performance evaluation systems work.” (MCA, 2007)

Beyond Budgeting Case Studies

BBRT advocates most of the BB principles based on real-life experience of many companies after they have abolished budgeting from their operations (Hope & Fraser, 1997; Hope & Fraser, 2003). Case studies reviewed on five categories of reasons for abolishing budgeting system provide the following results in respect of organizations studied,

Company Reason to Abandon Budgeting
Svenska Handelsbanken Lack of strategic relevance; The annual performance trap; Dysfunctional behavior
Rhodia Not clearly linked to the strategy; No ownership; No ambition
Borealis Too high environmental uncertainties
Ahlsell Disappointing performance results because of market recession
Leyland Trucks Budgeting is not fully abandoned. Improvements stimulated by falling sales numbers
Multi-product Speeding up reactions to the market; Expressing multiple stakeholders’ demands
Beckers (Wessanen) More strategic market-oriented management

The case studies give rise to three different management models. The reasons for abandoning the budgets can be categorized into two classes. The first category of companies is keen on improving their performance, based on strong market signals (Svenska, Ahlsell and Leyland). Firms in the second category decided to abandon budgeting to enable them to manage environmental uncertainty. They wanted to pass on the right market signals to production units so that the units can respond effectively to the expected market changes (Rhodia, Borealis, Dutch multinational, Beckers).

Firms falling in the first category adopt the approach of decentralizing both strategic and operational decisions to their operational units. Strategic decisions are taken by the operational units mostly to decide on the ways in which the units can respond to the market challenges faced by them. Firms in the second category do not undertake to decentralize strategic decisions at the operational unit level. They decide to keep the strategic decisions at the corporate level. The companies in the first category are made to face clearly articulated challenges, which need to be identified and preferably surpassed. Target setting in these companies is attempted through building out results in target dimensions without any fixed target level identified. The targets in this case can be referred to as’ maximization targets’. This implies either maximizing sales revenue or minimizing cost as much as possible. Continuously changing market developments, actions of competitors or the desire to achieve performance enhancement form the basis of target fixation.

Organizations falling under second category follow the option of solving strategic uncertainties first. Then they communicate their strategic priorities for the information of the operational units.

Balanced scorecard approach is followed generally to solve strategic issues and the rest of the control is exercised through regular financial budgeting system. Firms in this category can be divided into two subgroups – “firms which centralize strategic decision making while decentralizing operational decisions (Rhodia and Borealis), and firms which do not change their decision-making structure (Multiproduct and Beckers).” (MCA, 2007) In these cases, performance targets are arrived at based on reaching specific target level.

Conclusion

The overall effects of budgeting have not been assessed satisfactorily in the past. Traditionally budgeting is believed to support planning and control. However, it is argued that budgeting has major shortcomings like hindering change and stimulating budget gaming resulting in manipulative accounting practices on the part of the executives. Beyond budgeting movement, which is of recent origin suggests replacing budgeting with an alternative management control model, which can be aligned with the overall organizational objectives. Current research reports that successful firms are in favor of adopting more strategy-related target-setting processes reducing the role of budgeting as a control mechanism. Although Beyond Budgeting suggests alternative ways of managing organizations, the suggestions do not provide alternative management concepts, which are capable of replacing the budgeting process. Therefore, for better or worse, budgets need to stay.

Reflective Report

The study of the utility of budgeting in a business organization was a part of the research project I undertook to do. The research project ran approximately for a period of six weeks commencing 5th February. In the first week, I began to understand all the procedures involved and it took almost two weeks for me to get a grasp of everything connected with the research project and the procedures for conducting the research. From my supervisor I got all my doubts clarified.

During the course of the research project, I was able to apply many of the topics I learned in the academic studies, especially relating to the budgets and budgeting process. I started using what I learned as core values and creating a vision through the research project. Although I enjoyed the work during the first two weeks, there was a pressure mounting on me, as it was the first time I am handling a research project on my own. I think, it was the anxiety to learn everything fast that made me feel little pressured.

One of the main lessons I learned was to do an analytical study of all the materials and resources, which I could get to do the research. During the process of research in the third and fourth weeks, I could develop the skill for accessing the required information from the available resources. Though I was a bit slow in the beginning, I could gain the necessary momentum at the end of the second week and this made me happy.

As the third week ended, I almost finished with collection of the necessary data and information needed for completing the research. I was happy with whatever information I collected and I thought it would suffice to complete the research report. On the second thought, it appeared that I may be running short of enough materials, which made me spend three more days in week four collecting more resources required. During the middle of the fourth week, I became tense that the deadline for the submission of the research report was fast approaching.

I kept the major work of assimilating the information collected and the analysis for the last three weeks. However, since I had to spend three more days on further collection of resources, the time I allotted for analysis and writing the research report was reduced. During the fourth week, I had to work extra hours to complete the reading of the information collected, so that I would be able to see some progress in the work. Even though I was physically tired, the work accomplished during fourth week made me feel elated as I could complete most part of the analysis done and was ready to do the final reporting. The extra hours of work I put in helped a lot. I learned the lesson that while collecting the resources for conducting research it is always better to collect some additional resources, as otherwise one may run short of time for doing a quality analysis and reporting.

I allotted the fifth and sixth weeks for preparation of the draft report. I first made the report, which came out at least 40 percent more in length than what was required. I trimmed the report and prepared the second one which I thought came out well. I kept it for a day and read it the next day when I found that I have made some improper construction of wordings and had not represented the thought properly. Just before the end of the sixth week, I could make a report, which was satisfying to me.

Personal Development Plan

The aim of any learning is to provide the opportunity of developing one’s personal qualities and traits. Learning should also enhance the knowledge of a person. With respect to my experience in this research project, I should state that it motivated me to expand my interaction with others and the ability to look at things critically. Without developing my critical thinking ability, I could not have compiled the necessary information for completing this research project. However, there was one area, which I felt that I should develop my ability. I was not able to schedule the work for completing it within the time. In addition, I understood I have a poor capacity for estimation of the required resources for completing a task. This lack was evident from my work during the first three weeks in collecting the required resources for the study. I overestimated that I have collected information, which is more than necessary to complete the project. Only when I started analyzing the resources for their suitability for the research project, I realized that I made a poor estimate of the resources. I realized that I should develop the skill of properly estimating the required resources, as this is one of the essential qualities of an efficient administrator/manager. I also thought that I would be able to gain this skill through experience. Nevertheless, I also realized that one should develop an attitude towards approaching the issues with a critical bent of mind, which would help him/her to make a precise judgment of the adequacy of resources. If one thinks that the resources that he/has are enough to achieve a set target, he/she might later find that he/she made a wrong estimation. A sense of caution and careful assessment must be developed so that one can look at the issues from a proper perspective. The other shortcoming, which I noticed was poor scheduling, which led to poor time management. Since I planned to complete the collection of resources within the first three weeks, I had to suspend the collection of resources at the end of third week. However, the insufficiency of resources made me a lot three more days, which took up the days that were available for analysis. This made me work extra hours during the fourth week. I realized proper time management with a well-defined schedule of work is very much necessary to turn a person into an achiever.

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