Project Management: How to keep control of actual project costs and avoid scope creep

risk-diceWhen you’re the Project Manager of a large effort, it can either be an adrenalin rush or a little unnerving when everyone is looking to you for the perfect result. You must balance risk, effort and cost control to deliver a successful project.

Be diligent with your efforts to gather status updates from all parties involved and be sure to share the results with the core project team and key stakeholders. Depending on the length of the project, you may need to gather and share information weekly, daily or sometimes hourly.

Minimize risk to prevent scope creep

Compare the current status with where you should be on your schedule and look for new risks and possibilities for scope creep (both with the schedule and the budget).

Evaluate all risks that may affect the projected end results and present options to the core team and stakeholders. Revise the project accordingly and communicate the new targets to all involved.

Maximize effort to meet key deliverables

Spend time with those being affected by the project and determine what degree of change management is required for success. Many times, fear and concern can be mitigated with communication and early training programs with as much practice time as possible before going live.

Meeting key deliverables as planned will lend confidence to you and those with whom and for whom you’re working. Some examples of key deliverables include:

  • Hitting significant milestones established in the project schedule
  • Software upgrades to support the project and/or the business
  • New reports or programs
  • New or modified system and/or procedural processes
  • A training program including the design, contents, tested delivery and final product
  • Final review of the project to determine if the objectives were met as well as lessons learned

Whoever pulls the sword from the stoneBalance project costs with risk and team effort

Developing a project budget is the first step in controlling project costs. It will be impacted by risk and team effort. These steps will allow you to keep control of actual project costs:

  • Plan the project budget
  • Keep track of costs
  • Manage time effectively
  • Control project changes
  • Maintain proper accounting techniques

In conclusion, complex projects can lose focus and/or momentum without team involvement and accountability (effort, risk management and cost control). Keeping project objectives, schedules and milestones easily visible will keep you and your team on the road to success.

For tips on how to avoid big budget surprises, check out our earlier blog: Project Management Checklist: 4 Ways to Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.

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