In general, I recommend checking in on project status no less than once a week. If you wait longer, say two weeks, by the time you find out an issue, get it solved, confirm the solution, and make sure things are on track, you can lose up to six weeks. Serious issues may require more frequent meetings than weekly so you can stay on top of the solution. The key is both flexibility and good judgment.
When it comes to controlling project costs, the timing maybe even more important. The timing of money commitment, the actual expenditure, the arrival of the bill, and the payment of that bill may occur at drastically different times. To be sure things are appropriately tracked, you should:
- develop a budget
- have an appropriate change control method in place to manage scope and finances
- take note of when the expense was incurred
- promptly forward bills for payment
- carefully monitor the budget
- take action in a prompt and timely manner if financial targets aren't being met.
Likewise, when time is money, you will need timely and accurate information. I recently had a project go over budget since the time report was about two weeks behind and I didn't know exactly how much time was being devoted to the project (fractional resources present their own challenges) by a team member.
While thinking about and preparing this article I discovered this web site by Max Wideman that elaborates further on the topic. May all your projects complete on budget!
[This article was originally published 10 August 2007]
Want to learn more about how to integrate these practices into a project methodology? Check out our Micro Guide to the PROJECT Methodology.
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