The Money Files

A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts.

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8 Expert Interviews To Improve Your Projects

Categories: interviews

Over the years I have interviewed some great project management experts on this blog. Today I want to round up eight of my favourite expert interviews. They are all packed with tips to help you manage the difficult times on your projects. Enjoy!

Jason Westland on budget management processes

“Projects with a high level of risk require more contingency funding. Having said that, some parts of the project may be riskier than others, so consider whether you add contingency to the overall budget pot or to particular tasks or phases. You could, of course, do both, if you are particularly risk adverse.”

Read Jason's interview.

Kevin Baker on improving project management culture

“Unified Planning takes the schedule status and the cost status at work package level and then aggregates this up to give the overall picture at total project level, that is the status for the complete aircraft development.”

Read Kevin's interview.

Wilhelm Kross on risk management

“Making trade-offs, designing short-term compromises, implementing short-term work-arounds and the like, are typical management challenges that seem to be ignored.”

Read Wilhelm's interview.

And there's another part of my conversation with him here.

Eric Winquist on reusing requirements

“Organizations that centrally manage requirements respond to change faster and catch errors earlier because they are leveraging requirements that have already been developed and tested.”

Read Eric's interview.

Chris Bell on Enterprise Risk Management

“ERM is a scalable, holistic approach to risk management that consolidates and organizes risk information from across the organization into one location so that it may be used for improved decision making. By embracing ERM and creating a risk management culture, organizations can drive business performance, innovation and growth, while protecting company reputation and shareholder value.”

Read Chris' interview.

Jon Swain on project management tools

“With everything in one place, senior management can see up-to-date project performance data across the whole organization allowing them to better manage their project portfolios. They can proactively choose which projects to select, prioritize projects particularly with competing or scarce resources, understand the interactions between projects and tie all of these decisions directly back to the company's strategy and goals.”

Read Jon's interview.

Todd Williams on cost audits

“When you are determining the cost of internal resources, you need to determine they are performing to expected goals. Are they spending time on non-project tasks or inefficiently getting toward deliverables? They may be salaried and simply billed to your project.  In this case you need to be diligent ensuring hours (which translate to money) are spent on completing their work and that these hours are in compliance with industry standards. If time gets excessive you have a problem.”

Read Todd's interview.

Rob Prinzo on securing funding for your projects

“Robust budgeting starts with comprehensive requirements. I recommend starting by making a list of all your projects, categorizing the projects based on: size, business function, type, level of funding, effort and organizational impact. Next, determine the dependencies with other projects, funding, resources and business decisions.  Once you have your list, categories and dependencies you can start to determine the projected costs for the projects.”

Read Rob's interview.

Posted on: August 25, 2015 04:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

In Memoriam: Wilhelm Kross

Categories: interviews

I was really sorry to read in PMI Today that Wilhelm Kross had passed away. He was kind enough to let me interview him only last year and I was impressed by the depth of his knowledge. His desire to improve things in project management came through really strongly and he was an active member of PMI as well.

He was a well-known and well-respected figure in project management and I know he'll be deeply missed.


You can read my interviews about risk management with him here and here.

Posted on: October 02, 2014 03:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

10 Expert Tips for Project Budgets

Categories: interviews, video

Posted on: August 07, 2014 04:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ask the Experts: Jason Westland on budget management processes

Categories: budget, interviews

Last time I asked Jason Westland, CEO of, about his tips for preparing a comprehensive project budget. Today, our interview continues with his advice about budget management processes.

Jason, one of the hardest budget processes to get right is contingency funding. How should project managers make it work?

You do need to add in contingency, especially if you haven’t done this type of project before or it is particularly risky. But most companies don’t have a process for calculating contingency or even accessing it to spend.

It’s hard to calculate how much contingency to add to your budget, because it’s rare that there is another similar project that you can use as a guideline. Start off by working out how risky your project is going to be. Projects with a high level of risk require more contingency funding. Having said that, some parts of the project may be riskier than others, so consider whether you add contingency to the overall budget pot or to particular tasks or phases. You could, of course, do both, if you are particularly risk adverse.

So if you don’t know where to start, what is a good figure?

That’s hard to answer! But my advice would be – if you really don’t know where to start – add 10% of your overall project budget as contingency. Although it is better to work it out as scientifically as you can, as you will get challenged on that figure if your sponsor is doing a good job. You should be able to explain, rather than just saying that you made it up!

Talking to your sponsor about the level of financial risk that they are prepared to accept is another way to manage this. If you explain that contingency funding is there to offset unforeseen risks, they may allow you to have more, because they are risk averse and want to be sure that those kind of situations are covered. Having said that, this conversation could result in you getting less funding if they aren’t worried about riskiness.

What about spending the money?

Yes, you absolutely need to know how to spend it! Both for your contingency fund and your main budget, and they will probably have two different processes.

For your project budget, your Finance team will probably be able to tell you what to do about raising purchase orders, receiving goods, authorising invoices and keeping track of expenditure. While it might be quite bureaucratic, it is normally pretty easy. Get someone in the right team to tell you what your local process is and where to charge expenses to, as I have noticed that they differ widely between companies, and sometimes even within the same company.

And for contingency funds?

Spending the contingency fund normally requires approval from the project sponsor. The best way to manage this is to find out how you can access the fund before you need to use it. The last thing you want to be doing when something goes wrong and you have to sort out a risk mitigation plan at short notice is to be trawling the intranet looking for some obscure policy or trying to schedule time with your sponsor’s PA for them to explain it to you.

Once they have approved spending the funds, it’s normally a similar process to spending ‘ordinary’ money, but it might be tracked separately.

Thanks, Jason!


About my interviewee

Jason Westland is CEO of, a software firm, and author of The Project Management Life Cycle.

Posted on: August 07, 2013 07:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Ask the Experts: Budget tips from Jason Westland

Categories: budget, interviews

In this instalment of my occasional series interviewing project management experts, I spoke to Jason Westland (pictured), CEO of to get his advice on preparing good project budgets.

Jason, it seems like a very basic question, but tell us why it’s important to have a good budget prepared for your project.

A clear budget makes it possible to manage your project – without it you can’t even start to get things done. As a result, working out how much the project will cost should be one of your first tasks.

So, talking to your sponsor is a must?

Yes. It’s important for project managers to be able to have professional conversations about money, as you can’t afford to be shy about asking questions about hard cash.

Project sponsors sometimes already have an idea of what the budget should be, but you should do your own sums as well, if only to give yourself confidence that the sponsor has a realistic view of how much they will be spending over the lifecycle of the project. That will help you manage their expectations.

The project manager and the sponsor, then, work together on the budget. Who else gets involved?

You can’t prepare a budget by yourself. Think about who has the answers to some of your more complicated questions about costs, like how much the consultancy is going to be. Get your subject matter experts involved.

You can use your work breakdown structure or task list and get your team together to try to cost each element. Essentially, you should involve whomever you need in order to get realistic estimates.

You talked about consultancy costs. What other costs should you consider in your budget?

Well, you’ve talked about this yourself: there are two types of costs:

  • the cost of delivering the product or outcome – deliverable costs
  • the cost of running the project – project management costs

Yes, I remember writing about those.

To summarise, deliverable costs are related to producing your final deliverable or product, like hardware, software, licences and so on. Project management costs relate to temporary fees incurred from working on the project itself, like having to hire a separate office space, or a digger to lay cables, or a painter to decorate your new office.

There’s another type of cost isn’t there? The cost of shutting things down.

Yes, people often forget to include decommissioning fees. As projects involve change, things are different when the change has happened. And normally, the old way of working is left behind. The danger is that if you don’t take out the old way of doing things, staff members will continue to use that and your new implementation will be wasted. You can’t achieve the benefits of the change if they still insist on working in the old ways!

One way round this is to budget for decommissioning what was there before. That way people have to use the new deliverables. This could involve things like decommissioning old software, closing down user accounts, deleting training material from the intranet and so on. As well as it being a professional and tidy way to end the project, it stops people from slipping back into doing things the old way.

Thanks, Jason.

Next time I ask Jason about contingency and budget management processes.

About my interviewee

Jason Westland is CEO of, a software firm, and author of The Project Management Life Cycle.

Posted on: August 01, 2013 04:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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