Common Budget Challenges

Let's take a quick review of the common challenges that a project manager faces when figuring a project budget. By increasing awareness of these factors, you can work proactively to avoid these in your own situation.

  • Based on weak foundation The budget is built upon the planning foundation created by the WBS, resource estimates, effort estimates, and the project schedule. An inadequacy in any of these elements is directly reflected in the budget.
  • Missing cost categories The budget needs to reflect all the costs that will be incurred or at least all the costs that the project is accountable for by the sponsoring organization. See earlier section for the list of cost sources that should be considered.
  • No profit margin For projects that are sold to clients, do not forget to include the profit margin in your project budget and in your pricing decisions.
  • Budget is pre-allocated In many organizations, due to the nature of their budgeting cycles and level of project management maturity, the budgets for projects are established (from high level estimates) before the complete work of the project is defined. In these cases, the budget is often the dominant constraint on the project; as a result, it will limit the amount of work that can be completed and the resourcing options available.
  • Labor costs not tracked More of an issue for internal projects, but in many organizations it can be difficult for the project manager to define and track labor costs, especially for internal staff. The most common reasons for this include

    • Organizational policy that project managers do not track internal labor costs
    • Organizational policy to treat internal labor as "sunk costs"
    • A mismatch between time reporting system/procedures and needs of the project

      This last reason is important to understand and may limit your cost tracking options, or at least the level of detail information you can obtain.

The Absolute Minimum

At this point, you should have a solid understanding of the following:

  • If the other planning activities have been done well, establishing a project budget is a very straightforward process.
  • The project budget is vital for managing expectations, accurately measuring project performance, and managing cash flow.
  • An effective project budget is time-phased, addresses the complete project lifecycle, and accounts for all project costs.
  • The project budget is a critical component of the project plan and integrates the project schedule, resource plan, procurement plan, and risk response plan.
  • The WBS, work estimates, and project schedule provide the foundation for a solid project budget.
  • Spreadsheet software is usually the best tool to use for project budgeting.

The map in Figure 9.3 summarizes the main points we reviewed in this chapter.

Figure 9.3. Overview of figuring a budget.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

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Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
EAN: N/A
Year: 2006
Pages: 169
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