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What is a project management budget and why it’s important

Akanksha SrivastavaLast Updated: October 12, 2022

The project management budget is what decides the resources available for each task. Since all project milestones are interwoven, their budgets are also interdependent. If the budget for any task exceeds, it will affect the resources available for the subsequent plan.

So, any miscalculation in the project management budget plan can collapse the whole project. That’s how significant project budget management is. Let’s have a look at different aspects of the project management budget to understand it better.

What is a project management budget?

As the name indicates, it represents the total cost of a project. It defines the individual budget for each task involved in the project and the resources required to complete it.

Preparing a project management budget plan should be the number one priority in project management. Project managers should get all stakeholders to agree to it before the commencement of the project. Because once finalized, you cannot change the budget unless the project scope and deliverables have changed. 

Why is a project budget essential for successful project management?

Flow Bad Project Management 01 Squashed

Budget in project management is essential due to the following reasons:

1. Establishing clear objectives of a project

A project management budget is a prime requirement in establishing milestones and objectives in a project. It helps you analyze your capabilities based on what the project demands in addition to determining the profit margins because if you don’t plan it well, you might be paying for your services from your own pocket.

2. Estimating costing of each component of a project

A project management budget is not just an overview of expenses. It is a detailed plan that breaks down the project scope into milestones, tasks, and even steps involved in each task.

Project budget management can be a tedious process; if done manually. You will most likely face disappointment. But don’t worry, that are tools now available that can help you create a detailed budget plan in no time. These tools even facilitate real-time project management budget tracking to help you stay on top of your project management game.

3. Helping you prioritize important tasks in a project

When you have a limited budget, you learn to prioritize.

Without a proper project management budget plan, you tend to follow a sequence of events to complete a project. But with a project management budget, you identify the most crucial tasks and save resources to get them done first. This way, you create back-ups that don’t let your project fail, no matter what challenges comes your way.

Of course, completing all milestones is important, but determining the stakes and budget of each one of them keeps you better prepared in the process.

4. Equipping you to stay a step ahead in project planning

Let’s take a project management budget example to understand this point better.

Say you need to design an app that will need programmers, content developers, designers, etc. While making the budget for the same, you determine the required human resources and the tasks you need them to complete. Once you have that idea, you will know the materials required, like laptops, tools, and other non-fixed expenses.

All this information will give you a complete picture of how your project is going to take place. Allowing you to visualize potential risks and failures your project is prone to and equipping you to stay a step ahead in project planning.

So having a budget in project management will not only define your monetary structure but prepare you for unforeseen shortcomings. As a project manager, you can leverage the budget plan to identify alternate action plans if things go south at any step. 

5. Ensuring quality control

Project budgeting ensures quality control in project management practices. When you have costing specified for each of the tasks, you are extra careful about keeping things under the tab, ensuring optimal delivery at every step of the project.

Expert tips on building project management budget

Here are some of the best-known project management budget tactics for obtaining the best results.

a) Trust the data

Use historical data or past experience.

Rather than building a budget from scratch every time, you should search for similar successful projects that your company has delivered in the past. Even unsuccessful projects, if any, can be used to understand the limitations faced in project management.

Data-based project budget management is one of the safest tactics for obtaining positive outcomes.

b) Focus on accuracy and get your figures right

In project management budget planning, you cannot afford miscalculations.

While planning a budget, you must be extremely careful about analyzing your needs and the cost each task of the project would require. Because if you don’t do it right, you are most likely to face failures.

c) Be ready to re-baseline your budget

Once you submit a project management budget, it remains the same until the scope of the project is changed. So, while the project progresses, you should always be ready to reallocate your resources and budget to different tasks. Here is why.

Suppose you estimated a particular task to be completed in X budget, and due to some reason, you could not do it. Now the extra cost required to get things on track will be compensated from the budget for the remaining tasks. That’s what re-baselining of budget means here.

To tackle such situations better, you must keep a set amount as a backup at the start of the project itself so you don’t compromise significantly during setbacks.

d) Leverage different methods of project budgeting

Not all project requirements are the same, so different projects demand different approaches for successful completion. The same goes for the budget in project management.

Following are the different project budgeting methods you can explore depending on your project’s requirements.

I. Parametric estimation

Uses statistical techniques and algorithms to produce data-driven project estimates. The accuracy of this method is high, although it’s complicated in practice as the variables for every new project are different and independent of other projects’ parameters.

II. Analogous estimation

It works best for routine projects. This method analyzes similar past project estimates to account for new variables. Since this method uses historical data, it is comparatively easy to contemplate.

III. Three-point estimation

This method takes the weighted average of the best, most likely, and worst budgets to give an approximate estimate. This tactic is best to prepare for setbacks during a project.

Key takeaways

When preparing a project management budget, the best way to plan is to use a project management template. Why? Because it allows you to have an accurate understanding of your project needs, and when you have that clear, it is easier for you to predict your future needs.

You can leverage project management budget tools available today to automate project costing and make it error-free. You can also check out Flow which offers a one-stop solution for all your project management and budgeting needs.

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