Your Go-to Guide to Creating a Project Budget in 2020

How to create a project budget


A project without a budget is a body without a brain. It doesn’t make any sense. Funding for a project is the most crucial factor in the development cycle that keeps the wheels running and everything in check.


When the importance of something is this high, the project managers in charge of the whole operation need to devise it as soon as possible during the kick-off phase of the whole operation.


If you are working in a position of a project manager, then creating and keeping your team following the proposed budget would most probably be the whole extent of your responsibilities in that company.


At first, the whole budgetary process seems quite daunting but eventually, you will realize that to start the whole process, all you need is a detailed plan of all of the activities that are too be performed during the development phase of the project or a work breakdown structure.


What that would do is that it will provide you with an idea about the whole expenditure structure and how you need to allocate the money according to the severity and importance of each task.


In this article, we will tell you about the whole project budget creation procedure that will consist of everything from the project budget definition and importance to some of the different estimation procedures designed to track and estimate different expenditures related to the project.


Let’s start at the very beginning.


What is Project Budget?


project budget example Source


A project budget is the amount of money needed to complete the development of all of the phases of the project. This budget is used to estimate the possible costs of every tool and element included in the project development procedure.


This budget will include everything from material procurement costs, operating costs to labor costs. But it’s not just a static document that is nailed to the door at the start of the project. This budget might change from time to time depending on the varying requirements.


Why do You Need a Project Budget in the First Place?


Well, we know that project development in this day and age costs a pretty penny but how much is enough. To cover all of the expenses of the project and everything connected to it, there should be a plan at hand, and that plan is Project Budget.


But one thing that you do have to remember is that this budget is not just to get the obvious things out of the way like rent or salaries. Yes, you do have to do those things but this budget allocation covers many other requirements.


Project Cost Categories


1. Traveling Expenditures


This expenditure is done by the team members that have to travel from place to place to do project work. This amount also includes the expenditure of food or lodgings they acquire during their travel.


2. Human Resource


This amount is the money set aside to pay the permanent and temporary employees working at the company, at the end of every month.


3. Training Fees


These include all the money spent to train the employees through workshops and other outside interactions to make them more capable, workers.


4. Material Resources


This includes all the money to be spent on different software or hardware that is necessary for the project development procedure.


5. Research Expenses


All the expenses spent on gaining knowledge about the project through research or brainstorming ideas fall under this category.


6. Capital Expenditures


All the equipment and technology upgrades are necessary to complete the project in this category.


7. Professional Services


Lawyers, market researchers, and consultants, etc. that are hired by the company to see through a seamless development of the project are paid by this money.


8. Contingency Reserves


This is the money that is kept under reserve for the time if the project goes over its originally proposed budget.


What are the Different Estimation Approaches to Estimate a Project Budget?


project cost estimation types Source


The following are some of the different ways that you as a manager can use to estimate the accurate cost of everything related to your project. These approaches can vary from project to project depending on how they approach planning. They are:


1. Bottom-Up Estimation


bottom up estimation Source


This estimation is one of the most effective estimations on this list of different ways to prepare an accurate project budget.


Why? Because this estimation enables the managers to track and estimate the cost of all of the different elements associated with the project like tasks, phases or milestones and rounding them up to get the complete project cost.


The benefit of using this estimation is that the managers can easily track all of the tasks related to the project and can judge when the project is going to go over the budget by looking at the results of the estimation.


The con to using this estimation is that it takes a lot of time to process all of the numbers and other estimation data because it takes time to go down to the root level of the project and track every individual task.


2. Top-Down Estimation


top down approach Source:


Top-Down estimation is the complete opposite in functionality to the Bottom-up estimation. How? Well, in the upper mentioned estimation, you had to go to the grass-root level to gain data and then compiled it to get the complete result.


In this estimation, the project managers start with the total and work their way down to the smaller chunks. This helps them to allocate a specific number of hours to every task and milestone related to the project.


This estimation is useful at the start of the project to find out the estimate of all of the tasks related to the project when the client has provided the company with a sufficient amount of money upfront.


The disadvantage of this estimation is the sloppiness because how can you determine a budget when you don’t even understand the project plan or the scope of work.


3. Analogous Estimation


Analogous estimation Source


If you have been working in the project management paradigm and have managed a few projects before you were assigned this current project then you would probably have some idea what to do and what not to do.


Analogous Estimation uses just that previous knowledge that you have. This estimation uses the data you collected in your previous projects and enables you to get the best idea on what to do and what not to do depending on the victories or losses of the previous projects.


One thing that you need to understand is that every project is unique and just because some of the requirements are similar, it doesn’t mean that you apply the same practices on it as you did on the previous ones.


When this scenario comes then you should look outward and find the most suitable resemblance in other projects in the market and find the best procedure to tackle your assignment.


The disadvantage to this estimation is that it is not accurate as of the bottom-up estimation but the best thing about is that it can be used to get a rough idea about the tasks as it is super quick and can be performed even when you have very limited info about the project.


4. Parametric Estimation


parametric estimation Source


In opposition to the analogous estimation, this one is much more accurate. Parametric estimation takes all of the data points or cost variables from different areas of the previous projects that you have worked on.


All of these data points when applied to the current project, enable you to make the best decisions possible. The main drawback to this estimation is that when you are working with digital projects, it’s very hard to find data points that might be useful to your project.


5. Three-Point Estimation


Three Point distribution estimation Source


Three-Point estimation is one of the best options for projects in today’s world. What happens in this estimation is that the managers take three types of scenarios into account. The best, worst and most likely.


This enables them to have multiple data points and encourages them to think about their project from multiple perspectives, resulting in a more realistic estimation of the cost.


The upside to using this estimation is that it drastically reduces the chances for the project to go over-budget and the downside to using it is that it sometimes a tiny bit longer to complete a budget estimation but hey! At the end of the day, the more you spend time researching and working on your project, the better.


Steps to Create a Quick Project Budget


Here are five steps that you can use to create a quick project budget in no time:

  • The first step is to breakdown the entirety of your project into smaller chunks like milestones and tasks
  • The next step is to conduct a proper estimation of every element that you mapped out in the first step
  • Furthermore, you have to merge all of the estimations that you have gathered so far
  • The next step is to map out all of the taxes and contingencies that are bound to happen during the project development phase
  • The last step is to talk to the manager and get the approval of all of the tasks that you mapped out




The points mentioned in this article will help you create your project budget that can result in successful project execution and results. If you want to share your feedback, reach me out at



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