Budget Analysis

So much more than an eye on the schedule

How We Avoid Scope Creep

The overall success of a project is a project manager’s top priority. If a project goes wildly over-budget or out of scope (as they often can), it will not be considered a success, even if it’s delivered on time and meets end users’ needs. That’s why PMs need to meticulously manage their budgets. Here are strategies a CURTIS Digital project manager uses to help manage this critical constrain.

1. Continually forecast the budget. A project run without frequent budget management and reforecasting will likely be headed toward failure. Why? Because frequent budget oversight prevents the budget from getting too far out of hand. A 10% budget overrun is far easier to correct than a 50% overrun. The opportunity to correct the budget’s direction is as soon as the forecast is projected. CURTIS Digital requires a mandatory Core Team meeting each week to review previous week spend and forecast the next coming weeks. Each week, there is 100% visibility on the project path.

2. Regularly forecast resource usage. As with forecasting budget it’s important to know your project resource allocation, aka burn rates, so that there is a clear view on what the current project needs are. Each week in Core Team the activities by job role are outlined in a quick view to see who is working and what roles might need adjustment moving forward. This gives insight to the budget as well as other project constraints. The goal on our side, like yours, is no surprises. Doing so will ensure that your project is fully utilizing the resources and that you have the right resources ready for the rest of the project. Regularly revisiting the resource forecast will help keep your project budget on track.

3. Keep the team informed. Always keep the team informed of the project budget forecast. At CURTIS Digital, we call this “fact checking.” Our managers are constantly reflowing the project plan, looking for outliers, risk or uncertainty and then reconfirming again with the team that all estimates are where they need to be. This constraint diligence means that our forecasting is based on actual perception as well as “the numbers.” We believe an informed team is an empowered team that takes ownership of the project. By sharing the budget status, the team is more likely to watch time and far less likely to get into the missing minutia of time.

4. Manage scope meticulously. Scope creep is one of the leading causes of project overruns. As unplanned work finds its way into your project, billable hours mount and the project budget can get out of control. Project managers must carefully manage scope by creating change orders for work that isn’t covered by the project’s initial requirements. At CURTIS Digital, we don’t think CRs are bad, we treat them as a flag to say: “This is different than what we originally planned or talked about.” A CR on your project might have zero time or budget impact but we follow the same process of documentation and communication regardless.

The project budget must be a living part of projects — something our PMs review with their teams, stakeholders and clients on a regular basis.