Launch: Budget Tool Beta

Imagine with me… a world in which planning a WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. did NOT require a Google spreadsheet to share or get shared to you. What if your budget lived *right in your WordCamp dashboard*? And what if… your dashboard budget was “automagically” updated with your live ticket sales, sponsor invoice payments, and vendor payment requests?

Guess what? A betaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process. version of this Budget Tool is already nestled in your dashboard right now (Dashboard > Budget > Budget), just waiting to be tested and improved by your feedback!

EDIT: Enormous, gigantic, and in all other ways huuuuuuuuuuuge cred to @kovshenin, who worked his fingers to the bone, coding up this amazing new tool. He’s aces in our book.

What you’ll find in this v1 Beta

In the Preliminary Budget stage, you can enter event data (number of attendees, pricing from vendors, etc) and save everything to draft, as you’re looking at the way your event size and subsequent costs will affect your fundraising.

Event Data and Summary

Budget Tool Beta Event Snapshot.png

The Event Data section has fields for number of attendees as well as number of days, tracks, speakers, and volunteers. You can also choose the currency — there are lots! — for your budget, and set a ticket price. (We’re not quite ready to connect this to CampTix.)

On the right side of that Event Data box, you’ll find Summary info, which automatically adds up your income and expense line items, and shows you what the variance is — basically, whether the event is running a surplus or a deficit. Based on the number of attendees you set in the Attendees field, the “Cost Per Person Per Day” field will calculate just that. 🙂

Expenses

In the Expenses section, you’ll find four columns: CategoryCategory The 'category' taxonomy lets you group posts / content together that share a common bond. Categories are pre-defined and broad ranging., Detail, Amount, and then “Move/Delete.”

A table with WordCamp expense line items, including venue, wifi costs, comped tickets, video recording, projector rental, livestream, printing, badges, lunch, coffee, after party, t-shirts, and speakers dinner

If you change something, the row will turn peach as long as your changes are not saved. If you add a new row, that row will be green until you save your changes.

The Category field allows you to choose an expense category from a drop-down, and these categories match up to Central’s accounting software to help us with program-wide analysis of what WordCamps are spending on what. 🙂 If the expense you’re adding doesn’t match any of the choices, it’s ok to choose “Other”.

The Detail field is where you can put the name of the actual expense, like Venue, Badges, Wifi, Lunch… the list goes on. Currently this field doesn’t wrap text, but that might be something we add if folks need it.

To add an expense line item, just click on the bottom row of the Expense section, where it says “New Expense Item.”

The Amount field allows you to enter a simple value, OR!

Budget Tool Beta cost calculation linking menu.png

Check it out! If you click on the little chain icon on the left-hand side of this cell, a menu will appear, allowing you to set a cost calculation based on number of speakers, volunteers, speakers + volunteers, attendees, days, tracks, and ticket price x attendees (useful in the Income section). Using this feature, you can just enter a unit price — say for t-shirts, badges, or lunch — and then link it to the appropriate number in Event Data. Neat, huh?

In the final column, you can click-and-drag “Move” to rearrange line items in the expense section, or to delete a line item altogether.

Income

Budget Tool Beta Income.png

The Income section has our old friends, the Category, Detail, Amount, and then “Move/Delete” columns. You can add and delete line items from this section as well, and when we connect the Budget Tool with the Sponsor Invoices tool, we can make cool stuff happen here — but for now, it’s pretty straightforward. You can make different line items for Early Bird Tickets* and Regular Tickets, etc.

For now, you want to have a different line item for each sponsor or just have one line item for all local sponsors, it’s up to you! 🙂 Category for this section is fixed, right now.

*Has everyone in the whole world heard me talk about how I think Early Bird Tickets are unnecessary? Yeah? OK, cool.

Budget Life Cycle

At the bottom of the Preliminary Budget, you’ll see four buttons: Save Draft, Save & Request Review, Cancel Changes, and Submit for Approval.

Save Draft: If you change something on the budget and want to keep that change, click this button.

Save & Request Review: If your budget is ready for a Community Deputy to review, so that your event can be added to the schedule, click this button. When you do, the budget will still be open to editing, and an email will be sent to support@wordcamp.org to request a budget review.A deputy will contact you and set up a time to review the budget.

“Did I read that right? Requesting a budget review is as easy as clicking a button?”

“You are correct.”

“Whoa.”

😎

Cancel Changes: If you’re been fiddling with the budget to test some theories (maybe you want to check what changing the event to three tracks instead of two would cost), but then you want to go back to the last version of the budget, use this button.

Submit for Approval: Once your budget review is complete and the prelim budget is approved, you’ll click the “Submit for Approval” button and the deputy will then click the “Approve Budget” on their screen to freeze the approved budget. Then everyone will see two tabs on the Budget page: an Approved Budget tab, which is frozen, and a Working Budget tab, which can still be edited.

Budget Tool Beta approved working tabs.png

The idea here is that we can keep a record of the budget as it was approved, while still having a place for organizing teams to update/monitor the event’s real-time financial status, and change things as needed. Things generally change between the approved budget and the final, after-event budget, and it’ll be helpful to be able to easily track those changes.

At the bottom of the Working Budget tab, you’ll see three buttons:

Budget Tool Beta working budget buttons.png

These work like the buttons at the bottom of the Preliminary Budget page: Update Working Budget saves your changes to the budget, Cancel Changes reverts you to the most recently saved version of the Working Budget, and Reset to Approved Budget takes you ALL the way back to the Approved Budget values.

On the list for v2 & v3

This V1 is cool, but doesn’t have a lot of the ultra-cool features we hope to build in to it yet. 🙂 Just so all our beta testers know what we already hope to add in upcoming versions, here’s a list, which is NOT in order of importance/priority:

  1. Link ticket income to live CampTix data in Working Budget
  2. Add a Notes field  (where, I do not know) so organizers can make notes on line items
  3. Link sponsor income line items to the Sponsor Invoice Tool, either by clicking a button on the Sponsor Invoice Tool that lets you “add this to the Working Budget” or by having a link in the income line item like, “Invoice this sponsor.”
  4. Link Working Budget expense line items to vendor payment/reimbursement requests; maybe change the color of the row for that expense line item when the vendor payment is marked paid
  5. Maybe include Category Totals in the Event Data up top, like the total sum of line items in the Venue/After-party/Food & Beverage Categories
  6. Translations into local languages
  7. Possibly add the ability to do basic calculations in Amount cells (separate from the expense/income linking tool)
  8. Network admin showing budget status of all WordCamps, including how much they’ve invoiced locally, how many tickets they’ve sold, and how many vendor payment/reimbursement requests they’ve made — which will allow deputies to know if WordCamps are having trouble earlier, and thus help them straighten things out, hopefully resulting in fewer cancelled events and more support for organizers who are struggling
  9. A changelog feature that shows what admin changed what data on the budget, and when.

Please test!

We’re super-excited about this new tool, and we hope that you’ll test it out, break it in interesting and unique ways, and tell us all about it. 🙂 Please report issues or make suggestions for improving the tool by commenting on this post, and include in those comments whether you think your suggested feature or fix is v1, v2, or v3!

#budgets, #finance