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10 Strategies for Controlling Cost and Schedule Overruns

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 4/22/2013

Lean projects don’t always mean utilizing Lean Six Sigma. Lean can also mean budgeting and schedule issues. Here, Jean Scheid offers up 10 tips for controlling cost and schedule overruns in today’s world of keeping costs down and schedules on time along with a free bonus tip you won't find anywhere!

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    Simple, Yet Effective Strategies

    If you want to control costs and schedule overruns in your projects, you can utilize some simple, yet effective strategies to ensure any problems that arise are either dealt with quickly or don’t occur at all.

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    1. Mind Maps

    Mind Map Ming mapping has been around since the days of Leonardo da Vinci and the process is still utilized by project managers today. Use your team to create your mind map, be innovative, and branch out the mind map on many levels with input from every stakeholder. Using this approach offers up a visual tool that often allows teams and leaders to see what-if scenarios and associated risks before the project begins.

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    2. The Project Team

    One of the biggest problems with controlling cost and schedule overruns is choosing the wrong team. Ensure your team has similar skill sets and even use Six Sigma to choose project team members. While a diverse team is often best, learn to build a team full of many different ideas and work styles, thoughts, skill sets, and experience on similar past projects.

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    3. Use the Right Software

    There are many types of project budgeting software on the market today. Read about five Budgeting Software Applications to see if you are indeed using a software program that allows you to create, track and monitor your budget.

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    4. Predict Overruns

    While many of the above software applications may also offer ways to keep track of project timelines and help avoid overruns, you can also construct your own project timelines in Microsoft Excel. Or, you may consider using a software program dedicated to timelines and overruns such as TrackerSuite.Net.

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    5. Prepare for the Unexpected

    Many projects fail due to the lack of a risk management plan—an essential element for any project. If you don’t identify and prioritize risks or plan for risks, when problems arise you are unaware of, you will go over budget by attempting to fix the unidentified risk. You can download a risk management plan template here.

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    6. Change Control

    Project Controls Along with a risk management plan, you’ll also need a way to control changes that occur during the project. You can also find a sample change control plan template if you’ve never implemented on before. Changes mean money unless you prepare for them in advance.

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    7. Implement Stakeholder Management

    As the project leader, you must utilize effective stakeholder management techniques. Keep track of external stakeholders including clients and hold them to what was agreed upon in the project scope. Allowing stakeholders to implement changes on a whim is never a good idea.

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    8. Use a Project Schedule

    If you’ve never written a project schedule, you can also learn how to do that here on Bright Hub. Because each project has its own aspects, goals, milestones and outcomes, a project schedule is essential to avoid cost and budget overruns.

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    9. Stick to the Methodology

    There are many types of project management methodologies, so once you choose the right methodology for the project at hand—stick to the preferred method. Attempting to jump from Six Sigma to Agile won’t work, and you will experience unexpected costs and overruns if you attempt this. Make sure that whatever methodology you choose, your team is well versed on the practice.

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    10. Be an Effective Leader

    A final tip on controlling cost and schedule overruns is to choose a leadership style that defines you, the project at hand and your team. For managers who have problems finding the right management style, consider taking a brush-up course at the Project Management Institute or learn from past experience to ensure what went wrong last time doesn’t occur in present or future projects.

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    Bonus Tip!

    Idea Light Bulb A bonus tip to help you prepare and help you projects run smoothly is to utilize some of the free project planning templates here on Bright Hub PM... you'll be glad you did.

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    References

    Borodynko, Mark, "Controlling Project Costs Through Interactive Planning" retrieved at http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/controlling-project-costs-through-interactive-planning.html

    Image Credits:

    Mind Maps - Wikimedia Commons/Share Alike License

    Control Projects - Wikimedia Commons/Alphamu57

    Idea Light Bulb - Wikimedia Commons/Share Alike License


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