On this week’s #PMChat, we talked about Project Budgets and how we can get those numbers to tell a story about your project. Our Federal Budget was handed down yesterday and I’m watching the annual theatre performance where the govt spins numbers to tell their preferred narrative. It has me thinking – can we (should we?) do the same with our project budgets?
I’ve added my responses in italics – please feel free to add your thoughts on Twitter, using the #PMChat hashtag. You’re welcome to join the conversation every Wednesday (Tuesday evening for our US friends) at 1200 AEST, 1400 NZST, 1900 PT and 2200 ET.
Let’s start by thinking about ownership. Who is accountable for setting the numbers, and who is on the hook for performance against them.
I’m always conscious that the Sponsor has his/her hand in their pocket for the $$. The Project Manager owns the budget performance, but I’m thinking that my Sponsor owns the numbers.
The next couple of questions talk about our general budget construction – how we pull numbers together, get them approved and then manage changes.
I start during the Initiation stage, then work up the first high level numbers during the Scoping stage – I lock the budget down during Planning stage, immediately before we stat Execution/Build.
My current client baselines at the end of the Scoping stage, then revises the baseline against performance before we start construction.
Ok, so the numbers are approved and the Project Budget is locked in place. Let’s think about how we use these numbers – how we track and report against them.
I present the budget and forecast/actual/variance numbers as part of any change requests – I get Project Board approval for the spend BEFORE approving the change request.
I use a #lifehack tracking template that takes me a few mins each week to update, so I can quickly run an ad-hoc update when asked. Otherwise, I update my Project Board at any meeting, or when any change request arrives.
Q6. How do you report against the Project Budget? Do you present a table? Do you blend numbers into a status report? Do the numbers stand on their own or do you show them as part of a wider message? Or perhaps a mix of approaches?
Like all my PM work, I have a single, central source of information, and a template reporting pack that sucks numbers in where I need them. Minimum effort. It allows me to customise my message for each audience, drawing on one source.
In the last few questions, we’ll think about how to USE the numbers in our Project Budget – how to share them, what our audiences are looking for and how they can influence our project messaging
Different audience have different areas of interest – that’s why I use a single source of truth and simplified tools to pull out info that meets the audience’s needs as easily as possible.
Definitely. I use the headline numbers and trends as part of my stakeholder communication toolkit. It’s a no-brainer.