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How to budget project communications?
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Is there a difference in the methods of budgeting project communications when approaches are predictive, adaptive or hybrid?

If the project budget is calculated using the bottom-up method, ie from the work package, how to calculate and / or budget project communication costs?
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There are many methods to budget communication within any chosen lifecycle model, be it discrete or embedded estimates. The question becomes what is the value of having a discrete budget line-item and how do you intend to manage that budget.

Are you going to tell people they have to stop communicating if they run out of budget, or are you simply creating a bucket of money to account for the resources necessary for activities that don't directly translate into discrete project deliverables? At some point, you can spend more effort tracking budgets than completing the underlying work itself.
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Dear Keith
Thanks for your comment
Anyway, to be able to make my project communications I will need to have a budget
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Luis -

Remember the values from the Manifesto such as "Individual and Interactions over Processes and Tools" and "Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation". Also recall the two principles related to face-to-face communications and maximizing the work not done.

Taking together, these all would encourage leaning out communication effort and encouraging pull models over push ones.

If that is adopted well by your stakeholders, then overall costs of communication may be less on projects leveraging agile methods & principles regardless of their lifecycle.

Kiron
Network:365



You don't necessarily need a discrete budget for communication. General communication is usually assumed integral to the work performed, just like a burdened labor rate includes paying the light bill rather than requesting budget to turn the lights on for your team. Even if you are offloading work to an outside vendor, their bill contains their own internal communication.

If you are requesting something new or unique from your standard work, a discrete budget line-item serves a purpose. Adding extra granularity to estimates does not necessarily add value. In fact, not only can it be wasted effort to generate detail that nobody needs, it almost invariably increases the total budget when you split tasks into multiple pieces.

One of the risks in bottoms-up estimates is that the cost of each piece is normally rounded up and you wind up counting the some of the same things like communication and contingency multiple times. The work itself doesn't change, but the estimating method does not consider synergy between activities.
Network:3092



Dear Keith and Kiron
Given the vague answers you give when addressing this topic, do not consider the cost of communication in your project budgets.
Or am I wrong?
When the project is to respond to a request from a customer (company or organization), we will have to consider the costs of communication, otherwise there goes our margin (read profit).
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Oct 10, 2019 7:09 AM
Kiron Bondale
...
While the "cost of communication" is something which is considered while doing communication planning on projects, unless we are talking about a really large project or one where the number of stakeholders is so large and diverse that significant costs can be associated with that, the level of effort will usually be a fraction of the overall project costs and would be considered part of overhead.

Kiron
Network:82



Luis,

I think it depends a lot on what you are classing as within this budget? Licensing for communication tools? Resource Time for "meetings and workshops"? Cost of meeting space?

If you are asking simply about project team members "talking to each other" then this would, in my opinion, be part of work and tasks, not a separate line item.

If you are asking "Do I have a fixed cost for each email or Slack I send", then no. If you are asking about pre-defined meetings, reviews, standups, then yes, I would include this resource time as part of budget planning.

In simple terms, if 3 resources need 3 days to deliver a piece of work, then 9 days budgeted. If we also need a 1/2d kick-off/setup meeting and maybe a 1/d delivery workshop to include these 3 resources, the budget would be 12 days.

Hope that helps in some way.
...
1 reply by Luis Branco
Oct 10, 2019 7:37 AM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Karl
Thanks for your opinion.
We agree.
It is important to budget communication
Network:1713



Oct 10, 2019 3:41 AM
Replying to Luis Branco
...
Dear Keith and Kiron
Given the vague answers you give when addressing this topic, do not consider the cost of communication in your project budgets.
Or am I wrong?
When the project is to respond to a request from a customer (company or organization), we will have to consider the costs of communication, otherwise there goes our margin (read profit).
While the "cost of communication" is something which is considered while doing communication planning on projects, unless we are talking about a really large project or one where the number of stakeholders is so large and diverse that significant costs can be associated with that, the level of effort will usually be a fraction of the overall project costs and would be considered part of overhead.

Kiron
Network:3092



Oct 10, 2019 3:52 AM
Replying to Karl Twort
...
Luis,

I think it depends a lot on what you are classing as within this budget? Licensing for communication tools? Resource Time for "meetings and workshops"? Cost of meeting space?

If you are asking simply about project team members "talking to each other" then this would, in my opinion, be part of work and tasks, not a separate line item.

If you are asking "Do I have a fixed cost for each email or Slack I send", then no. If you are asking about pre-defined meetings, reviews, standups, then yes, I would include this resource time as part of budget planning.

In simple terms, if 3 resources need 3 days to deliver a piece of work, then 9 days budgeted. If we also need a 1/2d kick-off/setup meeting and maybe a 1/d delivery workshop to include these 3 resources, the budget would be 12 days.

Hope that helps in some way.
Dear Karl
Thanks for your opinion.
We agree.
It is important to budget communication
Network:365



I consider the cost of most communication integral to the work being performed. I never ask for 2 estimates, one where they have budget to coordinate work, and the other where they must work in a vacuum.

The only time I discretely call out some kind of communication line item is when it is either for a unique activity, such as a monthly publication and large all-hands team meetings, or it is for comparitive purposes such as Method A requires X communication with Y efficiency vs. Method B which has different communication requirements and efficiency. Then that estimate serves a function other than detail for the sake of detail. Otherwise, no I would never include it in the budget. If I did, some manager would tell me it's already included elsewhere and they would trim that budget out, counter to my original intent. Line item vetos are another risk of highly granular estimates.

If I were going to do a bottoms up estimate of how long it would take to do a task, I might come up with a guesstimate of how many meetings etc. that go along with the technical work, but I would roll that up into the task level in the budget itself. If there is a lead who's prime role is project communication with their sub-team, I will include their effort discretely. My own budget itself is pretty vague but mostly involves communication. I just include how many equivalent heads I need to do PM work over a period of time

Often, we use task level estimates based on prior history: Job X usually takes 100 hours with little variance. Sometimes there is more or less communication, but we don't care at the budget level because the average is very consistent, and we don't track the minutia.
...
1 reply by Luis Branco
Oct 12, 2019 10:26 AM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Keith
Thanks for your opinion.
Interesting your point of view.
Are the projects you manage internal (company) or external (customer)?
Network:3092



Oct 10, 2019 12:20 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
I consider the cost of most communication integral to the work being performed. I never ask for 2 estimates, one where they have budget to coordinate work, and the other where they must work in a vacuum.

The only time I discretely call out some kind of communication line item is when it is either for a unique activity, such as a monthly publication and large all-hands team meetings, or it is for comparitive purposes such as Method A requires X communication with Y efficiency vs. Method B which has different communication requirements and efficiency. Then that estimate serves a function other than detail for the sake of detail. Otherwise, no I would never include it in the budget. If I did, some manager would tell me it's already included elsewhere and they would trim that budget out, counter to my original intent. Line item vetos are another risk of highly granular estimates.

If I were going to do a bottoms up estimate of how long it would take to do a task, I might come up with a guesstimate of how many meetings etc. that go along with the technical work, but I would roll that up into the task level in the budget itself. If there is a lead who's prime role is project communication with their sub-team, I will include their effort discretely. My own budget itself is pretty vague but mostly involves communication. I just include how many equivalent heads I need to do PM work over a period of time

Often, we use task level estimates based on prior history: Job X usually takes 100 hours with little variance. Sometimes there is more or less communication, but we don't care at the budget level because the average is very consistent, and we don't track the minutia.
Dear Keith
Thanks for your opinion.
Interesting your point of view.
Are the projects you manage internal (company) or external (customer)?

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