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Top 4 Surprises That Will Blow Your Project Budget
By Michelle Symonds

No matter how carefully you plan things, surprises always happen.

As project managers we need to ensure we are effectively managing our budgets and spending the money in a responsible manner whilst still delivering high quality results. Despite all the strategies and tools at our disposal, there are still a high number of projects that end up over budget, some drastically so, many of which have fallen victim to the nasty surprises our projects often present us with. Here are four of the most common things that project manager’s report as having completely blown their project budget.

  1. Reworking

    There is not much that can blow a projects budget in quite the same way as a rework can. Whatever the reason for the rework, doing the work all over again will invariably cost the same is it did to do it in the first place. Not only that, but it’s guaranteed to drain staff morale. Maintaining good communication with the client and other stakeholders can help to avoid this situation, and if you think the client has asked for a rework that is completely off scope, don’t be afraid to ask them to cover the cost.

  2. Contractors

    If you have the budget and need the help, there is no shame at all in outsourcing or getting in contractors to assist with the delivery of the project. The problem comes when you don’t have the resources to effectively manage these additional team members. Because contractors are charging for every minute they stay on site, if they are not kept busy, kept on track or used efficiently you could end up with a bill for way more than you budgeted for this part of the work.

  3. Poor scheduling

    Sometimes you can drastically improve your projects efficiencies by intelligent scheduling of tasks. For instance, if you were to walk into your kitchen to make tea and a sandwich, would it make more sense to make the sandwich and then switch the kettle on, or do things the other way around? Obviously it makes sense to switch the kettle on first, because then you can be doing two jobs at once as you can make the sandwich whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Increases in efficiencies in a project in this way can save great amounts of time, as well as maintaining motivation and enthusiasm by not having people twiddling their thumbs whilst they wait for the proverbial kettle to boil.

  4. Equipment use

    Some projects cannot avoid the need to hire equipment for certain aspects of the job, and if this is the case with your project, make sure you are making the most of the equipment hire time by using it efficiently and effectively whilst you have it. Some companies charge on a ‘per use’ basis, whilst others charge by the day. Project managers need to plan for the arrival of this piece of machinery and ensure they are all set to make the most of its presence to avoid adding extra days or uses to the cost of its hire which will have a negative impact on your project success.

Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.

There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.

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