About half of you have come into some money within the past three months, and another group of you will come into money during the first month of 2008. No, I’m not talking about winning the lottery or the holiday bonus. The money I’m talking about is your company’s annual budget.

While not as much fun as spending your own money on a new flat-screen HD TV-choosing between DLP, LCD or plasma is a tough, but enjoyable, task-a sports car or boat, it also isn’t as rewarding as financing your children’s or your own education. Spending the company’s money comes with its own set of pleasure and challenges. The most difficult challenge of spending the company’s budget can be getting the person making the financial decisions to loosen his white-knuckled hold on the purse strings.

Who hasn’t thought about how he would spend the company’s money if he were in charge of the budget, or a portion of it? If given the opportunity, on what would you spend the money? Would it be new equipment, upgrading existing equipment or more manpower? Would more money be spent launching or forging ahead with quality initiatives? Is software available to make the job easier? Maybe it would be a wise investment to outsource some of your measurement, test and inspection needs? Or add some more training opportunities for your staff?

Companies are poised to spend $3.2 billion on quality software, quality services, and test, measurement and inspection equipment in 2008, according to Quality Magazine’s 8th Annual Spending Survey. For an overview of the survey, see pg. 16. Twenty-eight percent of the survey respondents expect to see an increase in their annual quality budgets in 2008, while 64% expect the budget to remain the same. The principle motives behind the increases are to improve productivity and to reduce scrap and rework.

Now is the time to start your own wish list and be a warrior for quality. Start a list of the equipment, software and services that would be most beneficial to your company and your job in the upcoming year. Maybe you already have a couple of items in mind. A good place to start “shopping” is in the pages of this magazine or in Quality Magazine’s 2008 Buyers Guide, which is available online atwww.qualitymag.com/buyersguide. Once there, spec sheets for a variety of products are available at your fingertips.

Writing the wish list is the easy part, but don’t forget that no matter how the money is spent, there must be solid reasons behind your decision and the numbers to back it up. Improving productivity and reducing scrap and rework are sure to garner some attention, as will reducing costs, increasing production capacity and improving cycle time.

What’s on your 2008 wish list? Do you have a sure-fire way to get your budget approved? Share your thoughts with me at[email protected]or online atwww.qualitymag.com.