Project finances in a business as usual environment
Have you ever been in a situation where you’re accountable for something but have absolutely no control over it? Does that sound like an unlikely scenario? Unfortunately it’s not. It’s one that project managers all over the world face every day when project budgets are managed by a central finance team.
The first time I was in this position, I had no visibility of any project budget information. All of my project’s invoices were sent to a central finance office without me seeing them and I was lucky if I got a total project actual versus baseline spend every couple of months. It made managing my project budget almost impossible and I was held to decisions that had been made months earlier with inaccurate information.
So how do you manage your project budget in this situation? After all, you need to be able to defend your position when (not if) you’re held accountable for any budget problems.
Here’s some practical suggestions that I used to try and keep track of my budget after that horrible first experience:
- Ask vendors to send me a copy of the invoices they submitted to finance
- Got my team members to provide timesheets, even if it was using an excel spreadsheet. This was particularly useful when managing contractors as I was able to more accurately track my resource spending
- Had a regular coffee update with the finance person who was responsible for updating my project financial information. By doing this, I built a strong relationship with the finance team and was able to make sure that I received all of the reports I needed
- Made sure my financial log was kept up to date
- Monitored forecast vs. actual vs. baseline budget as best I could so I had some idea of where I was tracking. It wasn’t the most accurate but it gave me something to go on
I wish I had Psoda the last time I was in this position as it is specifically designed to ensure that you can effectively manage your project budgets. It has integrated purchase orders, timesheeting and a reporting engine, which means you’re not having to try and manage data from multiple sources to keep a grip on your financial progress.
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