Cost Management Resolutions for 2019

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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

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I'm not the best at making resolutions for the new year. Last year, for example, I vouched to spend more time on self-care and say no to too much work. That didn't work out so well.

Project managers sometimes ask me what I think they should be doing better or differently. We all seem to have the common goal of wanting to improve our skills and do better at our jobs. It's part of the challenge and the fun of project management - continuous improvement.

So this year I've put together a list of three simple things that you can easily do to improve your approach to project cost management. These resolutions will help you stay on top of your project budget and have more confidence dealing with the financial aspects of work.

They are easy to do. You just have to commit to do them.


Here they are:


I don't know about you, but my time tracking is still quite spotty. I have had two main projects this year. I work out my hours on a monthly basis, using the average length of a working day and then broadly how many days/half days I spent on each project, looking at the meetings I had.

This is not scientific at all.

Luckily, we are an internal team and don't bill our colleagues or clients for our time, so in the grand scheme of things it doesn't much matter. But if you work in an agency setting, time tracking becomes essential. Do it properly and encourage your team to do the same.

Monthly Budget Reviews

If you don't do these already, you should. Right now I'm reviewing the budget almost daily to make sure we get everything accounted for before year end. The busy times for you will depend on your company's year end and how you account for multi-year projects.

Check through the budget every month. It will make your reporting better too.

Challenge Estimates

I don't really do this. I trust my colleagues to tell me the truth. I have no reason not to believe them when they tell me a task will take 72 days. But next year, I'm going to try to challenge appropriately. The question I'm going to use is: "What would it take to do it faster?"

That's not undermining their expertise. In fact, it's drawing it on even more. I'm asking for their expert input into how we could get the task done more quickly. I think this way of challenging could help us all get more delivered but with less conflict.

What are you going to try to do differently in 2019 to help your projects manage cost better? Or more generally? Do you set professional resolutions at all? Let me know in the comments!

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Posted on: December 27, 2018 12:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (13)

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Good one. Thanks for sharing.

Nice tips.
Thanks for sharing !!

Spot on, as always! Thanks for sharing this, Elizabeth.

Thanks for sharing :)

I like number 3, we should do that more often for sure. Thanks Elizabeth.

Nice resolution, I will do the second more than one a month.

Nice and super fan of the Christmas tree! Thank you for sharing and happy new year!

Undoubtedly, there are moments in the life cycle of the projects, in which we feel confused and insecure, in these cases a good advice helps us to see things in a more appropriate way, a suggestion from a friend to improve the topic. aspect of our personal and work lives, thank you very much Elizabeth for your advice, at the beginning of the year 2019.

Thank you for sharing your insights.

Thanks Elizazbeth. Challenge Estimates is the best part of the blog. It actually force your team members to share the logic behind their estimates. At the same moment you will be more familiar with the domain.

If I may add a "safety check" to each of the 3 great suggestions above:

For each initial response you receive, ask HDYK.

How Do You Know.

Blow off the ones that start to respond with "Well, in my years of experience, . . . " and again ask,

"On a facts-only basis, please tell us/me, How Do You Know?"

As has been said often,

"In God We Trust, All Others Bring Data!"

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"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like and do what you'd rather not."

- Mark Twain