Project Management Series
Post #6 of 6: Budget Strategy
Day-to-Day Tools for Balancing Speed, Quality, and Costs
Project Success = Quality Work Delivered On Time and Within Budget
By combining knowledge from instructional design and project management, we have put together an equipment checklist of key structures needed to meet deadlines while also ensuring quality and maximizing profit in your day-to-day management of a project.
Developing a healthy and profitable budget can be a complex task considering the many variables of a project. With their years of expertise and dozens of successful budgets behind them, our team of learning producers offer their insight into best practices for budget strategy.
Have we produced this type of deliverable before?
If so, then the project manager can review the reconciled budget and debrief. This will clearly show where the budget was healthy and where improvements can be made. If this is the first time creating this type of deliverable, more hours will need to be budgeted for working through the unknown logistics the team will encounter.
What is the deliverable for?
Knowing at what type of meeting the deliverable will be used helps to establish the bigger picture. For example, if the deliverable is being created for a product’s global launch, that often means production value (and, therefore, budget) increases. If the deliverable is to be made repeatable for a small group of new hires, focus may be less on production and more on teaching company standards. The client may provide a budget range, which will allow the project manager to know what sandbox they are playing in, possibly eliminating specific deliverable options or relegating deliverables to a “phase 2” or “optional” status.
What is the timeline for this project?
A successful budget must reflect the needs of a project’s timeline. A shorter timeline can introduce several additional considerations. Extra resources may need to be brought into the project for support and/or resources may need to work at a faster pace than usual, both of which are key budget considerations. Shorter timelines also mean that there is less possible time in a given week for resources to work if their schedules are taken up by just one project. However, shorter timelines also mean that project managers don’t run the risk of going over hours in crazy amounts, so budgeting around this can be a little flexible. On the other hand, a long timeline can add to a budget if there will be reoccurring meetings and extra time for draft review.
It is important to note that the timeline is an aspect in which a project manager will want to make sure assumptions are added appropriately. Project managers will always want to be sure to have accurate assumptions around timing for drafts, how long the client has to review, the way feedback is to be provided, how many rounds of review for both the client and any medical or legal review, and how source files will be delivered. Assumptions help protect the budget because they provide clear guidelines for both the client and the vendor.
What do your resources think?
Talk with the resources you are planning to use on the project to understand the hours they will need to complete their tasks. These resources can include (but are certainly not limited to) an instructional designer, programmer, graphic designer, or copy editor. Alignment between a project’s resources and its project manager on the estimated time it will take to complete tasks and also updating each other throughout the project on where resources stand on time used can help ensure a healthy, profitable budget.
A key piece of advice here is to always give resources (or contractors) their estimated hours in their contract and let them know to alert the project manager if they are reaching those agreed upon hours. Doing this protects the budget—you know where your team stands on hours and can have a conversation with the client if hours are getting close to what was budgeted. Always be sure to first reassess the assumptions outlined in the budget to see if this could be the cause of hour overages.
What review system will be used?
Knowing how your client will review deliverables and building in the appropriate amount of time to accommodate that review type is important in a healthy budget. For example, a client may prefer live reviews of deliverables as opposed to consolidating feedback in a single PDF. Live reviews take more time than receiving consolidated feedback, and that additional time should be reflected in the budget.
What will the submission experience be like?
Knowing how the type of deliverable will impact its submission into a submissions system is important when thinking through creating a project budget. For example, if the deliverable is medical content–heavy, it will likely require more time to link corresponding references. It is also important to factor into the budget any type of conventions within a submission system. For example, some clients have reference upload procedures that can take additional hours that will need to be accounted for.
That’s a wrap! You’ve made it through all of Versado’s posts on Project Management! Thank you for being interested enough in what Versado is up to and reading this post. We can’t wait to bring you more Project Management–focused content in the future!