4 Tips for Improved Project Budgeting

If you think about it, there are several types of “success” when it comes to finishing a project. There’s the success of on-point delivery in line with the desired timeframe. Then, there’s the adherence to what the client expected of your work’s quality. Lastly, there’s the “Hey, we didn’t spend that much more than what we expected to” project budgeting success.

Of course, there’s also the most treasured triumph of just cramming all three of these in the ultimate project management achievement. However, way too often this desired project management Grail remains out of reach for many teams.

And one of the most critical reasons for that mishap is not monitoring and calculating a project’s budget properly. We thought about writing out a few things that you can do to avoid such an unpleasant situation. Here they are.

Getting The Project Rolling: The Importance of Estimates

Let’s make it clear from the get-go: you need an estimate. No matter the scope of your project, its timeframe and other project specifics, you can’t do without a project budgeting estimate. It should be:

  • Realistic – Based on the workpower you have and the resources you can utilize for this project.
  • Extensive – Takes all your little project management/workforce details in mind, including phases, activities, possible dangers.
  • A bit liberal financially – Devising a realistic and extensive estimate is fine. However, you need to leave some room in terms of financial projections. You can’t possibly get a totally accurate estimate, so don’t fret too much over absolute financial punctuality. Just set the course and be prepared to tweak the details further while working on your project.

Making estimates is an art, but it can be tricky. On one hand, you have to come up with a good “project management skeleton” (hence the extensive); on the other, you have to give yourself some room as not to go crazy from the calculations (hence the financially liberal approach part).

An additional thing to consider is the frequency of the budget you’ll be coming up in your estimate. Traditionally, we’re talking about monthly budgets in most of the project management industry. However, some quicker projects will follow a weekly budgeting schedule. Customize the pace in line with your project specifics, but do document and analyze why you chose this exact expenditure.

Project budgeting writeout

Keeping The Project Intact: Forecasts, forecasts, forecasts

A project is not a stone that you just throw to the bottom of the well and wish for success. You need to control its trajectory and monitor every step closely. Project budgeting is an ever-changing deal: you start the project with these and these resources and expectations, and soon enough the situation gets a little bit different. “OK, what now?”, you ask puzzled, and that’s the beginning of the end.

This is why forecasts are an absolute must and you should do them regularly. As various project components deviate, you need to accommodate this change to your current plans. Are your running costs higher than the initial estimate? Are they lower? Are there any problems with the team working on the project – sick leave, miscommunication? Any unwanted complications or technical difficulties?

Of course there are. There’s no project without its moments of alarm and panic. Forecasts reduce the probability of your project budgeting getting out of hand completely. Frequently performing them means that even if you deviate a bit from your initial plans, you can still mend it and get back on track. Way better than realizing your mistakes when the deadline’s knocking at your door, right?

Oiling The Project Wheels: Team Communication Matters

A project’s success vastly relies on the team that works on it. Improving that team’s way of working and establishing an efficient environment is a great predisposition for your project’s success.

Keep your team in touch with how things are faring in terms of project budgeting. Be transparent with them. Talk about what has happened during your chosen timeframe and discuss the forecasts – and how should they be tweaked.

Both you and your team are the masterminds of this project so you can’t leave them out in the dark. According to experts, this will also reduce the risk of them charging too much “gray area” hours when your project budgeting is a little sour. Not to mention that constant feedback is invaluable when it comes to devising estimates, following forecasts and overall better project budgeting practices. Ingrain in your head the mentality that your team is the basis of everything operational – including your own vacation scheduling if you remember our previous article.

Estimating project budgeting costs

Bonus: Improving Your Project Budgeting By Collaboration Tools

There’s a reason why project management is an industry filled with useful collaboration tools: they help. A lot. When we lay the initial drafts of what Cronforce would be about, we mused over how can we be of ultimate value to both project managers, teams, and their clients.

What do you expect of project cost management software?

We spoke with business owners like you and asked them the very same question. So we came up with a project management solution that lets you:

  • Set your project budgeting and team rates intuitively
  • Get a visual representation of your planned or actual project budgets (graphs)
  • Establish rate rules per client, project, team member, job role
  • Have an extensive project costs overview and bill monitoring
  • Achieve 3rd party integrations with accounting services like Paychex, Quickbooks and others

Among many other things. There’s a reason why we talked in-depth with these business owners and why a great deal of them are now our clients.

What do you say about trying out Cronforce for free and taking that tricky project budgeting to a higher level with an increased efficiency?

The Cronforce.com Team

3 Common Project Management Challenges Which Cronforce Tackles Directly

Project management – no matter if the project at hand is a small, medium, or a huge one, can be hell. Given the fact that you have to juggle so much things at once, it’s no wonder a big, menacing, fat gap full of possible project management challenges opens right up. You stare at it, and it stares right back at you. Trickles of sweat run across your back. The gap smiles hungrily.

Are you doomed, altogether with your project?

The good news is: no, not if you decide to fight back at least. Project management challenges are meant to be tackled. And we have developed our software to help you turn these “tackles” into guaranteed victories. Here are 3 pretty common project management challenges addressed directly by Cronforce to ensure your success.

Changes in the scope of your project

Rarely is any project a constant. It moves around like a snake, demanding a change in budgeting, deadlines, work force, ideas…Scope changes can make or break a project and rank among the highest project management challenges you will come across.

Tweaking the scope might come from either clients or supervisors. Most of the time, of course, clients are the source of this project management revolution. However, pro project managers won’t give up easily to just any request for scope change. And they will defend their decision with hard facts and figures.

Project scopes are among the most common project management challenges.

Simply put, you need to gauge every request and explain how (and why) it will influence the overall flow of the project and its budget. Cronforce enters the game with two ways to help you out. First, a solid project structuring feature with phases, tasks and subprojects. That’s the skeleton of your project and the scope you have set. Secondly, an intelligent take on fluid project management, giving you extensive project budgeting and project planning reports and overviews.

Providing statistics and figures just got way easier (and with that, your project management responsibilities).

Abandon ship! Or lack of team communication

You can’t spell out project management without bearing your team in mind. In order for a project to be properly done, team communication has to be on point. No, it has to be straight out impeccable. Otherwise you risk a) your project, b) your client and c) your overall reputation.

However, as you might have noticed already, we humans have some communication issues inherent to the way we think and act. Add to that the trend of globally dispersed, mobile workers, and a “project management challenge” can easily evolve into an “Abandon ship!” scenario. Oh, and did we forget to mention that your business most probably is divided into distinctive departments? In other words, there are further factors weakening the communication links in your project management.

Bad communication risks the integrity of your current project - and overall project management.

Our team members are from various countries, so we fully understand that issue. Cronforce removes proper communication barriers by:

  • Providing you with numerous 3rd party integrations that enforce easy, on-point communication. Both across regions and across your business’s departments.
  • Smart vacations and absences  scheduling to avoid any “Wait, but I thought you’d be online and working this Thursday” scenarios.
  • Upcoming workforce planning supported by a mobile ready web app to nail down all these organization structures and departmentalizations your business needs.

The elusive accountability

If communication can be bad, what can we say about accountability? Every single time a project rolls around, you can bet that accountability will shine as one of the top project management challenges you’ll experience.

Let’s face it, how many accountable people have you really met? Not that much. Now throw more people into the mix, and watch accountability slip right out the door.

However, as a project manager, you absolutely have to take care of everyone bearing their responsibility. Your workers are molecules, and the chemical reaction also known as “successfully finished project” won’t come out if they don’t account for their work.

Ditch the “I thought John had to do this” or “Hey, I really did work more than 30 hours on that integration! Fair and square!” issues. They plague a project, build up tension, and risk the integrity of what your team does.

We help out with providing you flexible timesheets for your team. After creating a project, you can just set up specific workflows and tasks for every single member of your team. Not only this, but Cronforce also lets you get some sweet role based access and set up supervisors to make sure your project fares even smoother. Extensive reports, time tracking and additional 3rd party integrations work towards an important end goal: transparency and accountability.
If you suffer from any of these 3 quite common project management challenges, then maybe you can give Cronforce a spin. We’ve got a free trial waiting, reserved just for you and your business (and team). Of course, the project management challenges we listed are a small part of the issues you might encounter as a project manager. But then again, we provide so much more too, as we understand your project management pains and seek to alleviate them.

The Cronforce.com Team

Supervisors: Why and How They Matter For Your Business

The world of entrepreneurship is far from being an easy environment to find yourself in. It’s intensive, highly competitive and requires of you – the business owner, both agility, flexible decision-making and relentless hardwork.

But above all, it needs you to have a steady, efficient team. For small businesses with a limited number of employees (say, less than 7), keeping your team in check and ensuring maximum capability and proper communication is not that hard. However, as enterprises grow, the links between employees and managers (and employees themselves) get weaker. The foundation you know as your business is threatened. You need a certain mediator to grease the wheels.

This is where supervisors step in.

It’s absolutely baffling how many SMBs forget about hiring supervisors or straight out underrate the role they have: even though their day-to-day operations actually have a dire need of such experts.

To be honest, some members of our team have seen the magic supervisors can perform in our previous jobs. That’s why you will find a built-in supervisor role across each of the features Cronforce has. It’s there: both in the personal time tracking feature, in the vacation & absences scheduler, and fair enough, in the project cost management tool too.

The 3 Main Roles of Supervisors

Let’s cut to the chase: what makes a supervisor so valuable? It’s just another person with another set of responsibilities in your small or medium-sized business, right?

Wrong. A supervisor is your very own Swiss army knife of tasks and communication facilitation. And that helps any business tremendously.

The Supervisor As A Peacekeeper

Sounds like coming straight from a warzone, but if you’ve had anything to do with enterprises of 20+ people (or even less!), you know how tough things can get. Bigger teams equal an increased possibility of interpersonal conflict and clashes between employees. However, managers don’t always have the time to be present and maintain order – which guarantees the situation spinning out of control, with your business suffering.

A supervisor is the exact solution to this problem. Serving as peacemakers, supervisors move in haste to subdue any vicious conflict and ensure proper day-to-day operations are resumed quickly. Even better – as supervisors are always among employees and know the environment perfectly, they can prevent vicious interpersonal conflict from arising in the first place. Something that is rather hard for people on the management level who have their own concerns and are quite busy to notice and monitor such things.

The Supervisor As A Mediator

If you noticed, we mentioned that the supervisor stands on a specific level: above the regular employee and below the manager. Aside from this giving proper insight on the communication dynamics in a team, this builds the role of the supervisors as a mediator between employees and management.

This is the person that will convey and report information across your small or medium-sized business’s levels, sparing you time and subduing the risk of miscommunications between higher-ups and employees. It might seem not that valuable to you, but wait until the workload and company size pile up. That’s where mediation becomes not only a recommendation, but a requirement for a properly functioning business.

The Supervisor As A Person Who Cultivates Talent

Don’t get things wrong: while friendly and warm when managing conflicts, any supervisor worth their soil is also quite stern. Company discipline is important, as is employee focus and productivity in routine operations.

But in this discipline a supervisor enforces lies another benefit for your small or medium-sized business: growing talent. A supervisor gauges the skills and abilities of the workforce and pinpoints the best way to enable their growth. Discipline is only worth it if there’s a direction, a purpose behind its enforcement. Think of it in this way – every employee is a studend in one way or another, as we always learn something new, no matter how good we are at what we do. The supervisor is a teacher – perhaps a bit strict, but always on the watch for where to channel this strictness to cultivate the talent of your employees.

Our Point of View

As mentioned earlier, many of us here at Cronforce have seen the wonders an experienced supervisor can do. Way too many business owners think that a supervisor’s value lies mainly in huge enterprises, but that’s actually not true at all. Small or medium-sized businesses also have a need for these experts, especially when you think about the ultra competitive environment of SMBs.

We created Cronforce for SMBs and a huge part of that involves thinking about how supervisors can become even more “super” in what they do. What would happen if you give them access to a powerful project management tool with a vacation scheduler and employee time tracking thrown in the mix?

You can do an experiment and give Cronforce a spin with a free trial waiting for you. We don’t want to be too cocky, but we’ve got a hunch that your supervisors will love it as much as you do.

The Cronforce.com Team