5 sources of financial help on projects

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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Categories: tips

Life ringIt’s not always easy to know where to look for help when you need advice about money matters. Here are 5 places to look for the answers.

1. The Finance team

The corporate finance team are paid to manage money and balance the books all day. They are your in-house experts for all things from getting invoices processed to budget forecasting and understanding the implications of changes to tax legislation.

Does your finance department have functional leads who face off to different areas of the business? If so, who is your representative? If you work in the IT department, for example, you may find that one of the corporate accountants specialises in the IT budget and they would be a great starting point for your questions.

2. The PMO Finance liaison

Just as the finance team may have staff members who specialises in handling the accounts for your functional area, your PMO may have someone whose role it is to liaise with the finance team.

If your organisation is managing portfolios at a mature level (to the P3O Standard Maturity Level 5, for example), financial control of projects and the portfolio will be an integral part of how the company manages money. There will be full integration between the corporate financial models and the programme and project financial controls, so it is highly likely that someone in the PMO will have the ability to answer your money questions, or at least know who to ask.

3. Books

There are a number of books that deal specifically with project budgeting and financial control. I learn well from books, and being an author myself I have a natural affinity to information in books. Here are two to start you off:

  • Earned Value Project Management, 3rd Edition, by Quentin W. Fleming and Joel M. Koppelman (PMI, 2005)
  • Project Management Accounting: Budgeting, Tracking, and Reporting Costs and Profitability, by Kevin R. Callahan, Gary S. Stetz and Lynne M. Brooks (Wiley, 2007). This is my desk reference book when it comes to project financials.

You can check out my blog for more project management book reviews.

4. The PMBOK® Guide, 4th Edition

A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge (which we know as the PMBOK Guide) contains a chapter on project cost management. It’s Chapter 7, to save you looking it up in the index. This knowledge area contains the processes around estimating costs, determining the budget and controlling costs. It details a number of tools and techniques – not in any great level of detail, but the thumbnail sketches of different estimating techniques, for example, will give you enough to go on to determine whether they could help solve your problem.

You can then go and research that further.

5. Groups

Don’t underestimate the power of asking for help outside of your organisation. There are a number of forums and special interest groups. For example, PMI has an Earned Value Management Community of Practice.

APM also has an Earned Value SIG

Even if your question doesn’t specifically relate to earned value management you will find financially-minded people in groups like these who could probably answer your queries. There are also great Gantthead discussion groups, and you could always ask your question there too.

What other sources of financial information and help do you use? Let us know in the comments.

Posted on: September 28, 2011 02:54 AM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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It is indeed a great article Elizabeth - I understand it was written in 2011 so the reference was for the PMBOK 4th Edition.

Yes, it's an old article, so it referred to the version that was available at the time.

Previous projects will be good reference too. thank you for sharing all these information with us.

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