Project Management

The Money Files

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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Spring clean your portfolio: Setting clear priorities and roadmapping

Spring clean your portfolio: Resource management

Spring clean your portfolio: Portfolio review

3 Types of programme cost (that are not project costs)

How to keep a business case up to date


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3 Types of Vendor Payment

Last time we looked at the different times in a contract where you would be scheduling payments. Today, I wanted to write a bit about the different types of payment you could factor into your work with vendors to give you some variety with how you structure payments.

Before we start, make sure to discuss any payment plans with your procurement and finance teams, so you don’t end up committing your company to something that you really shouldn’t! In my experience, contracting and procurement are really outside a project manager’s pay grade – organisations generally want the specialists involved, and most project managers would not have authority to sign contracts.

However, it’s worth knowing about the different payment options out there, so you can mention them in conversations with the right people if they are relevant to how you think your project would be best served.

Here are some options to consider for your next project procurement activity.

types of vendor payment

1. Uptime/availability payments

This is something to build into service level agreements. In the past, my projects have needed to set up SLAs, and uptime payments were built into those.

In essence, vendors get an incentive payment for keeping the service available instead of penalty clauses for downtime.

You could use this principle to build in payments for services or support being available, and you could have various thresholds that trigger different payments. Or you could put penalty clauses in for downtime, but that’s not so good for relationship building. The management at my last company was very much against punitive clauses as they believed it did not incentivise a partnership relationship and was too much centred on blame.

If you do put these clauses in your contracts, make sure you also document how you claim the payments. For example, for uptime incentives, if I remember rightly, we had to claim them, and sometimes for the value offered, it wasn’t really worth the admin… so think that through before you write them into contracts.

2. Performance payments

I haven’t used these personally in projects, but I believe they are common in construction (are they? Let me know in the comments).

This would be a payment related to hitting a particular performance threshold, perhaps delivering early on a particular milestone, or reaching some kind of target. When we pay for services, there are often performance-based payments built into the schedule. You’ll have seen these, too if you do any kind of online transaction processing. For example, I signed up for a service linked to my personal website that allows me to have up to 10k of transactions per month at a flat rate fee, and then if I go over that, the next tier of payment-based payments kick in. Payment is based on how many transactions you put through the system.

That could be relevant for your project if you are launching a service where volume or number of transactions or units processed would trigger an additional payment or an additional discount.

3. Incentives

You could find any number of ways to incentivise vendors. For example:

  • Productivity savings
  • Process improvements
  • Staff savings
  • Time per transaction saving
  • Decrease in number of complaints or increase in staff satisfaction as measured by a survey

In addition to the ones I’ve already mentioned above. Anything that reduces overall cost of the service or product could be passed on to the client (your project), and there could be an incentive payment linked to that – ideally something that is beneficial to you both, not just cost-cutting for cost-cutting’s sake.

Have you used any of these payment methods on your projects? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on: September 13, 2023 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

5 Ways to Improve your Budget Situation

I’m lucky in that the projects I am working on at the moment have a requirement for resource time, but we can manage the work in-house so we don’t need to invest in anything else. However, in the past I have managed projects with substantial budgets – and also those with small budgets.

Personally, I think that managing smaller budgets is harder because there is less wiggle room to lose a small amount in the rounding, but we have to work with what we have.

When something on your project changes and your budget is reduced, you might have to look at creative ways to make the money go further. Here are some suggestions.


Find angel investors/donors

OK, let’s get this one out the way first! I got this example for the Project Management For Musicians book by Jonathan Feist, and it’s clear that it won’t work for all kinds of projects. I couldn’t run an SAP deployment by finding a lovely benefactor who just happened to want to sponsor an ERP implementation from the goodness of their heart.

But if your project is to run an event, stage a show, or something similar, perhaps this is an option for you. For example, if a benefactor donated a certain amount, they could get a free ticket to the gig.

I’m sure much of the world of PR and event management taps into this option all the time. If you do go down this route, just be sure to make sure whatever you do falls within the ethics guidelines of your organisation as you don’t want to be seen as taking or giving bribes or hospitality gifts that could get you and your company into trouble.

I’m including this one really as a prompt to ask you to think creatively about the situation you are in and what might address it.

Do less: reduce the scope

The classic way to save money on a project is to do less. Look for chunks of the project that could be pushed into a Phase 2 or subsequent initiative.

Typically, if you remove scope, you are also removing cost because the work takes less resource to get done. Analyse what could be removed to save money but would have minimal impact on the end result. There probably isn’t much that falls into this category, but there might be something.

Do different: change the scope

Another common way to reduce spend on a project is to look at changing the scope to deliver the goals in a different way. What about these switches:

  • Skip an expensive live in-person launch for a virtual tour
  • Replace classroom training with video walkthroughs and online help
  • Use a train-the-trainer model instead of asking the software vendor to train all employees.

What else could you switch? Let me know in the comments.

Change vendors

If your project involves buying in goods or services, you could also consider changing those providers. Perhaps another vendor would be cheaper, especially if you looked further afield.

Depending on the work, changing vendors could be more expensive, especially in the short-term. Pulling experienced contractors who know your business off a project and replacing them with remote contractors will have a learning curve, even if the skillsets of the two consulting firms are identical. Factor that in before you make any proposals.

Alternatively, consider the cost of bringing the work in-house. Would it be cheaper to hire someone on a fixed term contract than it would to get a supplier to do the work?

Bring benefits forward

Another option would be to look at how the project could be reordered to bring in some benefits earlier. For example, with a product launch, could you get a beta version out early to start bringing in some income that could be offset against future improvements.

If the deliverables can start bringing in some cash, that could change the financing of the work and improve the budget situation on paper, which might free up resources or investment for the next wave of development.

These are just ideas, and I hope you don’t have to use them!

Posted on: May 10, 2023 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

What to check with your project supplier (before you start working together) [Video]

How much do you really know about that supplier you are thinking of using on your project? They’ve sent you a quote, and you’ve got a nice glossy presentation with photos of their account managers, but what’s it really going to be like?

In this video I share some of the things I’ve found important when starting a relationship with a new third party – in fact, before the relationship even gets going it’s important to ask these questions.

If you prefer to read, there’s an article here on what to check before you sign on the dotted line: What you need to know about your supplier.

If you’re a video kind of person, and you want to hear my personal experience, then click Play on the video below! Let me know in the comments under the video what else you consider when you are assessing what organisations to partner with for project delivery. I’m sure you’ve got some great stories too!

Posted on: January 11, 2022 04:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Vendor Selection [Video]

Categories: vendors

In this video I talk about the second part of the procurement lifecycle, which is finding a vendor.

Watch the overview of the procurement lifecycle and a focus on the first step (requirements) in this video.

There’s more information about the overall procurement lifecycle in this article.

Pin to watch later:

Posted on: May 15, 2019 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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