requesting company resources
You and your career do not want to look like this guy when requesting company resources

Are you asking for enough when requesting company sources?

Today’s post is a phenomenon I have observed over the years that I haven’t seen mentioned in other blogs. Employees are shortchanging themselves when requesting company resources. This is the wrong attitude and it sets us up for failure. Typically, this type of request is coming from someone early in their career or folks who haven’t made it to senior management. Folks in senior management were promoted because they mastered the art of requesting resources. They ask for the right amount in their initial request AND have a clear plan of how these company resources are going to be used.

Let’s say you are working on a project that needs $10,000.00, 5000 widgets, or 80 hours of consulting time.

What I have seen time and time again is that folks ask for $5,000.00, 3000 widgets or 60 hours. In all 3 cases, the initial ask is less than what is estimated to complete the objective and there is little data to back up HOW the resources are going to be used.

Reasons we ask for less

  1. The wrong assumption that the company can NOT afford to spare the resources needed
  2. Fear that asking for the full amount will make us look weak, less skilled, or that we are not “crunching the numbers” well enough
  3. We think that $10,000 is too much money because as individuals, $10 grand is a whole lot of Benjamin’s. We treat the request as if this is coming out of our manager’s personal bank account.

The baseline of assumptions

If a project requires 5000 widgets to complete, and we only ask for 3000 widgets, we are setting ourselves up for failure before we start. If we don’t start with the necessary company resources, we aren’t going to cross the finish line. Unless the person who is going to approve of the resources has prior experience with our project, that person doesn’t know what the project really requires. With this approval, they are expecting the project to be completed on time and to perform flawlessly.

Some of the readers are thinking, “If I ask for the 5000 widgets I will only receive 4000. My manager always undercuts me”.


When you ask for the full 5000 widgets, you have set yourself up for success. Because we asked for what is needed to succeed, success or failure of the project will not be hinging on our initial request for resources.

If we are granted the cut rate of 4000 widgets scale the project back and start with a proof of concept. Prove that your idea works on a smaller scale. As the project proves successful with enough ROI, we should be granted more widgets. The key word is “ENOUGH” ROI.

“I told you so biatches.”

If we know a project requires 80 hours worth of work and we only budget and request 60, we are essentially hiding the truth from the company. We should not assume the company is going to make the wrong decision and only grant us 60 of the 80 hours requested. Employees should avoid going into a pitch for company resources with this mentality. We need to give full disclosure to the company on resources needed. If all the employees short-changed their requests to the finance department, then their projections on the budget will be way off. And when we find out we really needed 5000 widgets. . . I don’t endorse this but you will have the option to say “I told you so”.

This is what your parents envision when you ask them for $300.00

Requisite dating example:

Let’s say we are going to take a date to the prom in 2 months. The budget required is $150.00 for dinner, $100.00 for a tux, and $100.00 for a limo. The total budget is $350.00 for the night before tips and miscellaneous expenses like a corsage.

If we go to our parents and say “I need 350.00 for a date”, our parents have no perspective on why any date would cost $350.00. We receive a curt “No”. We retreat to our rooms feeling like our parents hate us and our lives are going to end.

In an effort to counter the above scenario, the classic move is to make an initial ask of my parents for $200.00. The reasoning is that $350.00 sounds like too much money for a single date. Two hundred dollars still sounds like too much for a single date, but it sounds better than the 3 Benjamins and a Ulysses S Grant.

One month later, I realize time is running out and I need another couple hundies. But in the fear of facing my parents, I only ask for $100.00. My parents ask me to budget better next time and, frustrated with my lack of accounting skills, fork over the $100.00. Emotionally relieved I breathe a sigh of relief. I got half my goal but this still leaves me $50.00 short.

I created my own panic situation

One week before prom, I am in a panic. I know I am at least $50.00 short and haven’t thought about tips or a corsage. Facing the music, I go to the parents one more time and ask them for the last $50.00. I get a long-winded lecture. My father gives my mother the evil eye, telling her what a dumb son she raised. After a dinner eaten in awkward silence and no one enjoying dessert, I head to my room. Later that evening, mom comes up with her purse and pulls a hundy from her wallet. She winks and whispers “Don’t tell your father, here is another $100.00 so you don’t come to us again. This is saving ME a lecture. Have a good time.”

Moral of the story:

A $350.00 budget request is no more unreasonable than a $200.00 request for a single date. Backing up the request with business logic and costs will makes more sense. “It’s Prom night and this date comes with additional expenses.”

Breaking down the initial request and explaining how the funds will be used will go far.

“Mom and dad, I am going to go to Prom this fall and am going to need some help with expenses. I am looking at $150.00 for dinner, $100.00 for a tux, and $100.00 for a limo. Total is $350.00.” The request has perspective. This isn’t just a date, this is the Prom. The $350.00 is going to be used for very specific expenses.

If your project requires a $10K budget, we shouldn’t ask for the company resources like a pimply faced high school student. Breaking down the request into bite sized and understandable parts will go far. Putting the request into perspective and showing a business need will go a lot farther than just saying “Can I have 5000 widgets, I am going to try and move the needle on X”

The quickest way for an employee to tarnish their reputation is by repeatedly not asking for enough resources

The Full Monty:

Next time you need resources, ask for the Full Monty. Don’t ask for a percentage. Look ‘em straight in the eye, don’t make excuses and recognize this is a business. Make the request like a senior business person in business terms.