In all my years in project management, I have noticed that the one element that throws off the majority of people in our role is the numbers. Many people do not like the financial side of project management.  This is understandable but very problematic.

Welcome back to my summer blog series based on Brad Egeland’s ( article that appeared in early July entitled ‘11 Reasons Why My Project Manager Is Better Than Yours’.   

Last week’s post was all about the project kickoff meeting.

This week we deal with the numbers.

Brad writes “A good project manager must be a good financial manager on the project. The budget can get out of hand quickly if not managed properly. The project manager needs to be forecasting and re-forecasting the budget every week. A 10% budget or cost overage is usually acceptable and can be fixed quickly if necessary. The unmonitored budget that gets out of hand by 50% cannot be fixed easily or not at all. A project with an unmonitored budget will always fail”

Well said.  Control the budget, looks for signals and understand when to raise the flag of concern. Our stakeholders do not want to hear at the 11th hour that we are going to be overbudget. They need to know much sooner so that we can all deal with it.

We need to remind ourselves that the project manager is most often the messenger, the one who’s job it is to get the right information to the right people at the right time.  Any news about the numbers – good and bad – need to be communicated in a timely manner.

Of course, this means that is critical that the project manager understands the numbers and can manage them.

And if you can’t?  Then stand-up, recognize the gap and learn.   The Executive Education group of the University I work with has a wonderful course called “What The Non-Financial Manager Needs To Know About Financial and Managerial Accounting” – 3 days long.  This kind of course can be found in almost any city.  Maybe you need a coach or personal trainer to help you over this hurdle.  Maybe a conference or maybe you just need to pick up a book.

The numbers part of the role is not everyone’s cup of tea.  But whether you like them or not, as a project manager, you had better understand them.

Financials will truly ‘Make It Or Break It’.

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