Project Management

The Money Files

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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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Setting Up Programme Budget Tracking

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Programme Management: Planning Your Finances

Setting Up Programme Budget Tracking

Last month we looked at what goes into a programme financial management plan. One of the components of that document is, of course, the initial budget. You can’t track what you haven’t baselined, so there is an effort involved in making sure that the programme budget is put together in a robust way.

Creating a programme budget that is appropriate, timely, relevant, accurate, detailed enough to get through the scrutiny of the CFO, defendable, transparent and more is a huge, time-consuming task.

So where do you start?

Creating the programme budget

The initial programme budget is put together in the same way that a project budget would be: you bring together all the financial information you have from the business case, estimates, quotes, contractual arrangements and more to plan out what money is available and when it will be spent.

With a programme, you might also need to work out where the funding is coming from and on what schedule. For example, if it’s a grant-based programme of work, perhaps funding is issued in tranches, or made available on the completion or publication of particular milestones. If it’s a multi-year programme, perhaps funding is only available for this financial cycle and the expectation is that more funding will be available from next year’s pot.

Agree financial metrics

Next, work out how you are going to track and monitor the budget and what metrics will be used for benefits tracking. Again, this is no different from project budgets, although the figures might be larger and you may also have opex costs to consider – many projects are able to capitalise their costs so as a project manager I rarely had to worry about opex tracking.

The financial indicators are important because these feed into the health of the programme and will be reported regularly. But on a programme that spans many years and perhaps has difficult-to-quantify benefits, how will you check that work is proceeding as it should? Earned value management is one way, but if your company isn’t set up for that you’ll need an alternative.

The metrics you choose for indicating the financial health of the programme and also the benefits realisation measures will very much depend on what the programme is delivering. Sellafield, which is a multi-year nuclear decommissioning initiative, has a 20-year corporate plan. However, they have set out very clear milestones for each project as part of the transformation timeline.

A digital transformation programme spread over 2 years would have very different financial constraints and would be tracked with different metrics.

You may find that validating the metrics as you go is a suitable approach, if all the stakeholders buy into that. It’s important, however, to get the metrics as ‘right’ as you can because future decisions will depend on them. As you report progress, produce updates or even make decisions to move into different stages, you’ll be presenting the financial numbers using the measures for performance tracking that were agreed when the programme began. So it’s worth spending some time making sure they are the right ones and that people understand them.

Financial risk

Part of the budget planning is also being aware of the financial risk. In Sellafield’s case, for example, the timescale spans 4 government spending reviews which may impact the funding available to the team.

There will surely be budget-related risks that should be added to your programme risk log. They are likely to include similar risks that you’d see at project level, but with a programme focus, such as:

  • Changes to exchange rates
  • Changes to the price of goods or services
  • Strategic changes that alter the course of the programme

There will also be risks that are more programme-focused, specific to your particular programme.

The more risk analysis you do, the easier it will be to calculate an appropriate risk budget. Be careful not to count the risk budget twice, once at project level and then again at programme level, if it’s for an escalated risk.

All this goes into the mix for working out contingency appropriate for the programme, and at what level you wish it to be attributed to the work. At project level? At the overall programme level?  Some mix of several methods for assigning contingency?

Ultimately you end up with a programme budget that will no doubt change and flex as time goes on, but should give you a reasonable baseline from which to start.

How do you know when you’re ready?

The outputs of getting ready to track your programme budget will tell you if you’re ready to go ahead. You should have the following:

  • The programme financial management plan including the metrics you will use to track performance
  • The initial programme budget, made up of the elements above
  • Programme funding schedules showing where the income is coming from
  • Payment schedules for each project, component or workstream, at least as far as you know them right now
  • Operational costs for the programme e.g. resourcing that cannot be capitalised
  • Risks for the risk register.

When all those things are in place, I’d say you were in a pretty good position for the programme’s financial management. What would you say?

Posted on: May 03, 2022 04:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

5 Facts From Program Management [Slideshare]

Categories: books, program

Posted on: January 06, 2015 05:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

7 reasons why you need a resource management strategy

PeopleDoes your project or program have a resource management strategy (RMS)? While they are mainly used in program management, you can also find an RMS useful in a project environment. This is especially the case if your project is not affiliated to a program and you have to work it out how to handle resources yourself.

An RMS sets out how the project or program will get and manage the resources it needs to achieve the change required – after all, projects are about delivering change and you need resources to do that. “Resources” is not just an unfriendly word to describe people. Resources can be:

  • Money;
  • Buildings;
  • Equipment;
  • Technology;
  • Services, and of course;
  • People.

The people element can include temporary staff, permanent staff, contractors or part-time employees.
 
An RMS helps you manage the approach to using these. Not convinced? Here are 7 reasons why you need a resource management strategy.
 
1. It describes how the human resources requirements will be managed. This includes internal and external resources. How will you keep their line manager informed? Will they be part of a matrix organisation and if so how will this work in practice? Will you have the people reporting directly to you instead?
 
2. It describes how you will manage the transfer of knowledge and skills back to operations when the project has finished. This part of the RMS can be an input into the training and communications strategies.
 
3. It defines the dispute resolution process for when resource conflicts happen. And they will! Having this documented in advance will help you deal with issues as they arise. You will already have plans for how to fix problems, for example, when resources are called on to business as usual work or other projects. Who will arbitrate? Will it be the program manager or a board member? Can you solve conflicts yourself or do you need someone else to look at the overall priorities of the project portfolio?
 
4. It sets out how you will resource business as usual activity when you are using project staff for your project. The company still needs to operate, even when project resourcing demands are high. The RMS acts as a prompt for discussions with line managers. You can use it as a basis to ensure that they have plans in place for when they need to resource the ongoing commitments for their departments.

5. It defines an approval process for getting people and money.Don’t underestimate this! It really does help to know in advance about how to get resources for your project. It will save a lot of time and negotiation if you have already talked to the process owners and other people involved and already have this written down.
 
6. It defines the accounting and financial reporting procedures for the project. An RMS can also be used to determine how you will get financial resources, how you will spend it and how you will monitor it.

7. It defines the procurement strategy. You might not need an entire procurement strategy for your project or program, so you may find that this section of the RMS just references your corporate procurement process. This explains how you go about buying things and what arrangements or contracts need to be in place.

Remember that resources are not just people! A resource management strategy can help you be a helicopter project manager and see the big picture for all the resource needs on your project or program.

Have you used one or got any tips? Let us know in the comments.

Posted on: August 06, 2011 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Live from PMI Global Congress North America: How to Become a Program Manager

Categories: events, pmi, program, salaries

Convention CentrePedro Serrador presented yesterday at PMI Global Congress North America on how to become a program manager.  There are many career advantages to program management – not least that program managers tend to earn more than project managers.  So if you want to move into program management, here are Pedro’s tips.

“A program manager adds more value than just project managers,” said Pedro.  He said there are eight principles to being a successful program manager, and shared these from Vincent J. Bilardo, Jr.:

  • Establish a clear, compelling vision
  • Secure sustained support from the top
  • Exercise strong management and leadership
  • Facilitate open communication
  • Develop a strong organisation
  • Manage risk
  • Implement effective integration
  • Create your own success

Moving to a program manager role requires you to deliver the goods, he said.  There might also be a case for upgrading your education, and learning from others.  Pedro also said that prospective program managers should put themselves in a position where they can lead and mentor others, and especially learn to delegate appropriately.  “Show that you are a leader, not just one of ten project managers in the group,” he added.  Look for the opportunities that arrive and take them.  Finally, act the role, he explained.  “If you want to become a program manager, act like a program manager. Start to structure things like programs.”  If you act like a program manager, your manager will see that you are capable of operating at that level.

“Often it is beneficial to move around,” he said, when he spoke about how to land that new program management job.  That could mean moving to a new initiative or to a new company.  He explained that outside CEO’s earn an average of 13% more than internal candidates.  However, they fail 34% of the time, compared with only 24% of internal candidates, so there is something to be said for sticking with what you know.  “Moving is riskier,” Pedro said.

Pedro had some tips for what to do when you get that first program, or you choose to structure your existing work as a program (even if you don’t yet have the title):

  • Structure sub-projects properly
  • Make your project managers run things how you would run them
  • Don’t micro-manage
  • Get strong business and executive level focus

Pedro also said that senior managers spend more time planning their own time.  “You help the projects managers get on the right track and then go on to something else,” he said.  Factor that into your daily schedule and take the time to plan your day (and your schedule in general).  It might seem like it takes a long time but it will be effective.

“A big part of your role is to let the stakeholders know the importance of your program and you need to be able to push to have obstacles removed,” he said.  His final piece of advice was to have a 30 second status summary in meetings in case the executive you are presenting to gets called away.  “Know to stop at yes,” he added.

Posted on: October 11, 2010 04:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

A recipe for a program business case

Categories: business case, program

During the stage in a program lifecycle where you are identifying the need for a program, you’ll have to put together a business case.

You will need:

A program mandate
A program brief
Some business drivers
Strategy to taste

  1. Mix the strategic objectives for the program with the vision statement.
  2. Align the mix with the organisational context and the business environment.
  3. Add in the expected benefits.  Don’t go too overboard here – you don’t want the mixture to over-inflate.
  4. Chop up the overall risk profile, and add in the major risks related to program delivery and benefit realisation.  Don’t sprinkle in the entire list of risks; keep the detail in the risk register.
  5. Add in estimated costs and stir through the overall timescales.
  6. Does it look like you have enough costs in?  If not, fold in some more now.  Be generous but realistic!
  7. Stir to combine all the ingredients with the options and approaches, remembering to add in ‘do nothing’ at this point.
  8. Look at the mixture again.  Does it look appetising?  If not, whisk up the costs, objectives and benefits again until it does.
  9. Bake slowly and serve to the Senior Responsible Owner.

Hopefully it will be tasty and the Sponsoring Group will want to go ahead with it!

Posted on: August 02, 2010 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
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