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What Project Budgeting Skills
Do You REALLY Need?
If you work in project management then you will know what a huge part of the role budget management is and just how vital being able to budget your project properly is to the successful outcome of the project itself. Whether you have recently completed your training for project managers and are currently in your first role, or are an old hand at managing projects with plenty of completed projects under your belt, this article will look at the skills that you really need when it comes to ensuring that your project budget methods are the best they can be.
No list of vital skills, especially in the field of project management is ever complete without at least a mention of communication.
Communication should be at the heart of everything that you do, every day. Whilst many project managers understand just how important communication is when dealing with the members of a team working on a project, it is also incredibly important in terms of your project budget management as well. If the members of your team do not communicate an issue to you effectively you may not be aware promptly of any adjustments that you may need to make to your budget in order to accommodate these unexpected difficulties as and when they arise. And, as any project manager, even those who have not worked on many projects will tell you, problems can occur at the most awkward times.
Know your Stakeholders
The foundation to sturdy budget management is understanding the goals and needs of the stakeholders for the project.
Everything about the project, especially the budget, relies on how well you understand the expectations of your stakeholders. Remember to make notes on the goals of your clients and ensure that you fully understand any requirements they may have for their budget. You will also need to be aware of what constitutes their wants for the project rather than their needs. This is important, as this can be the area where you are most likely to find yourself overrunning on your budget.
Don’t forget to check your end results with your stakeholder, you need to be sure that you have their complete agreement.
Spend time working on your brief
Once you have carefully reviewed the goals for the project with your stakeholders then you can start to build a brief to work from.
Spending time and effort in the briefs that you produce will help to set you up for a successful start and is more likely to see you not wasting time (and money) due to confusion and miscommunication at some point. Make sure that you start with a strong foundation and build your briefs up from there this will really come into its own when it comes to starting work on the project.
Break your project down
It is important to remember that no two projects will ever be exactly the same and similar projects may therefore not take the same amount of time to complete.
Each project will bring unique challenges that you might not have been expecting and this can have an impact on your project deadlines and therefore your overall budget. Being able to allow for this is a very important budget management skill. Consider the workload that you have for the project and break it down into smaller tasks. Give each task a timescale; this will help you to manage the budget that you have by seeing where you need to spend the time, and of course identifying any areas that might just cause any potential issues.
Make sure your team members track their time
Unfortunately, a project estimate is only a guideline and until the members of your team begin working on a project you are never sure just how accurate it will be.
You need to know where everyone is up to at regular intervals, this is of course referring back to our key skill of communication. If just one team member doesn’t let you know that they are not on schedule you can adjust things accordingly; and this is much better done after one day than suddenly finding out after a week that you have an issue. In order to be successful with your project budget management you really should make this a daily task – it doesn’t need to take long, just a few minutes, but it will make a huge difference.
It is well known that people in project management like to please others, and this is why they are great at their individual roles.
However, in terms of budget management it is important to learn when to say no, sometimes. All too often, the client will not realise that what they are asking for is just not reasonable within the scope of the budget but they will try to push it anyway. Learning that you might need to say no to these unreasonable additions to the project is vital if you want to succeed and be on budget.
You might think that you have everything under control and accounted for, but a budget should always be a flexible part of your project, so it is important to check-in regularly to ensure that you are still on budget and on time. Making little adjustments along the way is much easier than having to try and make larger ones later on.
It is not uncommon for a project to overrun, whether this is over budget or past deadline.
It is very important therefore to include an extra amount in your budget to compensation for any of those nasty little surprises that are all too common to pop up along the way.
Project manager courses are a great way of brushing up on these, and other skills, if you feel that your project budget management is getting on top of you. Once you are confident that you have all the skills required to create and manage a project budget, you’re sure to find them easier to deal with.
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About the Author
Michelle Gillam has written extensively over many years about a wide range of topics related to project management and change management. She is a PRINCE2 qualified project manager with a special interest in improving communication skills.