Project Management

Real World Budget Tracking with Microsoft Project

Dr. Andrew Makar is an IT program manager and is the author of the Microsoft Project Made Easy series. For more project management advice, visit the website

Senior project managers are often faced with managing multiple projects with varying schedules and resource costs. As project schedules are executed, schedule and cost variances occur and cost overruns need to be contained within the project budget.

Project managers use a variety of Schedule Tracking tools such as MS-Project, Primavera, QuickGanntt or even spreadsheets to manage project schedules. Project managers also use a variety of budget tracking tools ranging from complex spreadsheets to large-scale timekeeping, billing and resource management systems.


MS-Project provides a cost-effective balance between budget and schedule tracking tools to quickly and easily control project costs.


The Scenario
You are responsible for managing the schedule and budget for three software development projects. You have a fixed staff with various cost rates (standard and overtime rates). The team members will work on these multiple projects throughout the year.

As the projects are executed, common questions include:

  • Can a team member work 16 hours of overtime on Saturday and Sunday to complete a task?
  • What is the impact to the budget if a contracted resource is replaced by a more expensive resource? Can the budget contain the rate adjustment?
  • What is the month end cost variance?

Spreadsheets and resource management …

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