Week 10: Tallying It Up

Budget planning has begun for the 52nd DAC. It’s like private budget planning at the kitchen table, only bigger.

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I’m sticking with the theme of financial housekeeping given the DAC-related meeting I’m off to this week. Several of us on the executive committee are getting together to audit the 2014 conference and begin budget planning for the 52nd DAC. Prosaic stuff, I know, though it’s an important part of being good stewards to our main sponsors, who I blogged about two weeks ago. Of course we’re also trying to do right by all past and potential future DAC attendees, who I’m hoping appreciate more transparency when it comes to planning details, like who meets to reconcile the books for this year and start to lay out the budget for 2015. For the record, the list: Yervant Zorian, DAC 51 past chair; me, DAC 52 general chair; Chuck Alpert, vice chair; and Patrick Groeneveld, finance chair.

We’re all meeting at MP Associates office in Louisville, Colo., to go through the books, invoices, expense reports and other financial minutiae that DAC invariably generates. It’s a lot of work so we divvy up the tasks in an effort to be efficient. One of us goes through the expense reports for the people on the executive committee, one goes through vendor bills to DAC, one goes through invoices out to our exhibitors, and one goes through registration data. It takes us about a day to finalize everything and then sign off on the final numbers. The surplus, if any exists, will be distributed to our three sponsors.

On the second day we will do an initial forecast for expected revenue for DAC 52 and then start budgeting for 2015 expenses. We can’t spend what we don’t expect to have. The whole process is more or less like private budget planning that takes place around a kitchen table, just on a bigger scale – well, at least for me. We also set the goals for MP Associates. The last few percent of their management fee is tied to specific goals, an arrangement that helps us to align incentives and drive specific initiatives like automotive, IP and security.

Marketing and publicity chair Michelle Clancy also will join us for the planning meetings. We will chat more about efforts to spread the word about DAC, and about Michelle, in a different blog.

This week I’d like to introduce you to Patrick, who, in addition to being the finance chair is also our continuity chair. It is rather interesting and alarming how much our organization, made up solely of volunteers, forgets what we wanted to implement from one year to the next. Patrick helps to make sure that doesn’t happen and he keeps us on the right course, something he has much experience doing based on the bio he provided me for this blog:

“I have a private pilot license, and fly a (rented) Cessna 172. Flying is a fascinating combination of technology, human aspects, physics and rules to make it safe and efficient. In contrast to my day job, it requires more multi-tasking, simultaneously combining hand-flying, engine management, radio communication with controllers, flight planning and navigation. In a way flying is everything that EDA is not. The C172 was designed 60 years ago and the pace of progress is really slow, while in our field things move with a much faster time constant.

“I can’t help being an engineer all the time by trying to figure out how stuff works, and how it can work better. I’m experimenting to automate my home with remote-controlled sensors and actuators. It switches on lights and the heater based on activity patterns. I tinkered together a weather-dependent ‘smart garden sprinkler’ system that is controllable via a smartphone app as well.

“I love music, especially opera. Music literally moves me: This summer I followed my daughter and her high school orchestra on an amazing trip through Spain.”

Groeneveld-Cessna

Patrick is a good example of a point I want to come back to again and again this year. The DAC executive committee is so vibrant not only because of the spirit of volunteerism that prevails but also because those giving their time live interesting, full lives beyond the world of EDA. This makes it a pleasure to serve with them and creates an energy that we will do our best to translate into a great conference next year, I hope with your help.

For now, what else can I tell you about the budget process, either when it comes to how we make decisions or who is making them? As always, I hope to hear from you.