Finance and Budgeting

5 Effective Ways to Manage Your Agency's Project Budget

by Mike Wang, September 8, 2015

Budget management is the basis of any successful project. And being cognizant of your project’s trajectory is crucial to managing your budget and client relationships.

To help guide a project from inception to completion, consider these five ways to effectively oversee your agency’s budget.

1. Inspiring Creative Briefs

Creative briefs have a primary goal: to inspire your team to produce brilliant and effective responses to a particular problem. They also guarantee that projects are productive.

Briefs serve as confirmation to your client that you “get” their problem—and that you have a clear objective and strategy for solving it. The best briefs are concise and to the point, and are framed in an inspiring manner. They need to capture your team’s heart and get them excited to solve the problem at hand.

2. Accurate Estimates

As Project Managers, it’s essential to accurately bill your clients. And gauging the amount of time needed to implement projects is crucial to managing your budget. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time you think a project will take—but if you understand what is required, prioritize your actions, and utilize the right people and resources, you are guaranteed to come up with better estimates.

To help, consider the following tips:

  • Estimate the time needed for each task rather than the project as a whole.
  • List all assumptions, exclusions and constraints relevant to the project.
  • Assume that your resources will be productive only 80% of the time.
  • Freelancers and part-time employees typically operate on their own schedule.

3. Succinct Scheduling

As a Project Manager, it is up to you to create feasible timelines that utilize your available resources. Schedules keep your team on task and eliminate wasted time. Succinct, effective scheduling creates accountability, encourages productivity and eliminates multitasking—the ultimate productivity killer. Project management software makes it simple for PMs to update and track schedules. When tasks are completed, schedules are automatically updated in real-time. With less admin work to do, PMs are able to focus on the things that matter: concepting and creating.

4. Realistic Workloads

Much like scheduling, maximizing your team’s time should be a primary concern. And this all starts with assigning feasible workloads. Project management software can help assign projects—instead of reviewing your writer’s or art director’s individual schedules, PMs are able to see who has the availability to work on a task. Establishing realistic workloads will optimize your team’s productivity and help manage a project’s budget.

5. Timesheets

What’s worse than going over budget? Exceeding your budget and not even knowing it. Time tracking displays the value of your work compared to the budgeted amount and helps PMs make informed decisions about costs, estimates and deadlines. And no matter how you look at it, maintaining accurate timesheets is the best way to time track.

Implementing effective time tracking methods is paramount to managing your budget. Make it easy for your employees to track their time. Encourage a positive environment based on transparency. And for your own sake, do not even think about manual timesheets. Luckily for you, project management software is designed to make your life easy, by integrating schedules and timesheets. Through technology, PMs are now able to track the status of all agency jobs in real-time. In one convenient location, you can view a project’s timeline, specs, budget and assigned team members.

What other effective ways have you used to manage project budget?

About The Author

Mike joined Workamajig back in 1997 and now serves as the Workamajig Director of Training and Support.

Subscribe to the Workamajig blog