Factors to consider when developing a budget
The principal costs for equipment and supplies for a micronutrient survey concern collecting and analysing biological specimens and food samples, alongside the cost of field work. During the initial design phase, a preliminary budget is developed to ensure that the design of the survey, the selection of the target groups and the planned analyses of biological specimens can be covered with the available funds.
The ”Generic Budget” online tool can be used to develop a preliminary budget that covers at least the following categories:
- personnel salary and per diem, including accommodation
- equipment and supplies
- storage facilities if required
- laboratory analyses
- selecting clusters, updating maps, and/or carrying out a census of clusters
- social mobilization
- pilot testing
- shipping of specimens and/or samples internationally
- data analysis
- report writing and printing
- meetings, in particular, for planning and dissemination.
The preliminary budget should provide sufficient detail for estimating funding requirements for essential survey activities. If the estimated costs exceed the available funds, additional funding will need to be obtained. This may require delaying implementation for a defined period, or adjusting the main survey objectives or survey design (such as the number of strata, population groups, or biomarkers assessed). Different options to reduce costs should be proposed, discussed, and agreed to by the Steering committee and the Technical committee.
The budget should then be revised based on any agreed revisions to the survey design, and additional details should be provided. A detailed budget should be subdivided by the major categories (such as personnel, transportation, training and laboratory analysis) with comprehensive line items developed and refined.
For each row in the budget spreadsheet, there should be columns providing details about the unit (such as “person” or “item”), the number of units required, the number of days or months (if applicable), the unit cost in the local currency, and the total amount in the local currency. If needed, the costs in local currency should be converted to US dollars or other relevant currency, with a note that specifies the date and the exchange rate used. The spreadsheet may also include columns that identify the sources of funding for specific line items, as well as any restrictions, including time frames, for the use of the funds. The ”Generic detailed budget” online tool can be used to develop this more detailed form for costing and tracking of expenses.
Once funding is secured, it is important to define the mechanisms by which money will be distributed to the implementing organizations. The detailed budget should be used to track costs closely and to prevent budget overruns. Where such overruns are unavoidable, early detection is important to identify additional resources or change the scope of work to fit activities and outputs within the available budget.