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Putting Projects Back On Track: The Cost Factor

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” ‐Carl Bard

A variety of factors can derail a project from its deadline. Cost is one of them. It’s not unusual for some of the activities to cost more than originally estimated. During the project life cycle you might realize they were underestimated. If you figure that’s what has happen, try to find the root cause. If you look for solutions without knowing the root cause, the situation will probably recur. Then start with making amendments that will get the project back on track.

If an increase of budget is required to take the project towards completion, you can’t do much about it. The money spend in the project so far is already gone. Start by Informing the Project Sponsor. The team’s mindset are the biggest challenge. Holding information, pointing fingers and blame game has never worked. It does not help in resolving the issue. Re‐group your team. The need of the hour must be to regain the momentum for project completion.

Changes do happen, and one should be ready for it. Just because the project is facing over budget issue, does not mean the project cannot be completed. Your team strategy will be to look forward, if and how this over budget will impact the project completion. What new risk are identified? Think and be positive when reviewing the remaining part of the project plan. Look for areas that can compensate for this over budget. Understand what activities are considered most vital to the project’s success. Review the remaining scope of work and if some of the remaining work is not core to the project, negotiate with the sponsor to remove some of it from the project. It may be an option to complete this project on schedule with less than 100 percent functionality and then execute the rest in phases. Calculate the Estimated Cost at Completion (EAC) for the project.

Present the revised plan for the completion of the project to the Change Control Board. Their tolerance and other project related factors will influence their decision on what changes need to be done in areas of scope, time, budget and quality for the completion of the project. Most of the time, the sponsor will not mind marginal over budget as long as they get the assurance that the project will meet its objectives. Maintain an open and honest communication with the project sponsor. Agree with the Project Sponsor on the new project baseline and move forward.

Track progress against the new plan. Ensure lessons are learned from the past and not repeated.