Procurement 101

Budgeting & Cost Control Strategies for Project Management

Reading time:

15 minutes

Written by

Logan Price

Budgeting & Cost Control Strategies for Project Management

Cost control strategies have been around as long as there have been businesses, but today’s solutions are completely different from the draconian methods implemented and made popular in the nineties and earlier on. Most businesses tend to focus on project management overhauls to get the most out of their operations for less. However, making sensible improvements isn’t possible if you don’t know where to start. This is especially true if your operations are largely dependent on legacy hardware and software in addition to out-of-date compliances.

While the phrase, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” often applies, your goal should be to understand what’s broken in the first place. And with confidence.

Today, let’s try to paint a clearer picture by highlighting budgeting and cost control principles. By identifying and implementing critical budgeting and cost management strategies for project management, it’s possible to get more out of your day-to-day operations for less!


We always say that the first step towards implementing smarter changes is brushing up on the fundamentals. This is the perfect time to read up on modern approaches, especially if you’ve not been keeping up with any tweaks or new technologies that have become widely adopted since opening shop.

In today's business landscape, cost control starts with an understanding of how cost estimation and budgeting in project management work in 2023, not 2002. This is critical to future-proofing your operations. It also makes your company more appealing to talents that can help drive critical projects forward – a little hint for those of you actively recruiting!

Today’s cost control strategies are vastly superior to traditional bookkeeping and physical spend control methods, enabling you to keep all managers on the same digital page while they provide data and input useful for making operational tweaks. By acquainting yourself with cloud-based management software and other state-of-the-art technologies, you’ll better understand what kind of impact they may have on your business.


What good are your project cost estimation techniques if you don’t have the data to back them up? Implementing an adaptive accounting software solution, especially one that gives you a complete end-to-end viewpoint, is critical to improved budgeting and cost control in project management.

Today’s successful businesses wouldn’t be anywhere without real-time, accurate cost information and data at their fingertips, especially when almost all budgeting and accounting are performed digitally.

This means that it’s never been easier to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, monitor percentage of work completed, log departmental changes, compare their financial impact, and keep managers updated with best practices reflecting current operations; all you need is a cloud-based spend report system that incorporates tools for cost allocation and flexible approval rules, among other features.


Managing business operations and projects has grown increasingly digital over the past few years, with several tools and software that promote more efficient project management. One area where technology has been very valuable is in the area of budgeting and cost control.

By leveraging cost management software, project, and business managers can get a better handle on expenses. In addition to real-time expense tracking, technology makes it easier to keep up with project schedules, control costs, and identify areas with expected cost overruns even before they happen. This way, you can make better-informed decisions to mitigate excesses, reduce project expenses and disburse resources effectively.

Many cloud-based project management software allows users to create and set budgets, track expenses and manage their resources all from the same dashboard. These tools may also allow you to create detailed project plans, with clear cost budgeting for each task within the project.

Some financial management tools or procurement software have these features as well. They can be linked to your conventional project management system in order to create a more seamless flow of data between these two systems. These tools also allow users to set cost benchmarks and generate detailed reports with data that show how project expenses are allocated. These reports can be subject to further analysis to forecast budgeting trends and identify opportunities for total cost reduction.


Another crucial aspect of budgeting and project controls to pay attention to is the place of clear communication and collaboration between the different stakeholders that make up your project teams

When the lines of communication are unclear, cost accounting is difficult and this opens the door for cost overruns to happen. Open lines of communication make it easier to make informed decisions about resource allocations in project management while accounting for cost variance and discrepancies.

Regular team meetings are needed to keep everyone on the same page at all times about the progress of the project, percentage of completion, the actual cost of tasks, project performance, and so on. Meetings also allow you to identify potential issues and fix them just in time to increase profits and ensure project success.

Technology can also play a huge role in maintaining clear and open communications within the company. Most project management software have a shared project dashboard that stakeholders can leverage to stay updated in real-time on budget management. These dashboards contain information about project progress, milestones, budget vs. actual expenses, and any potential cost excesses.

They may also have automation features that push vital documentation and data along the communication chain, leaving less room for omissions and communication errors. By providing a platform for open communication, collaborative tools can help make informed decisions about resource planning with actual results.


Cost control on a project starts with the budgeting process. However, while implementing cost management and control for individual projects, it’s a good idea to narrow your focus to within your industry– for instance, there’s no guarantee that a small fast food one-off strategy will work for heavy industries like construction companies.

Before diving in and making tweaks to expenditure and budgeting in project management, take a closer look at the project cost estimation examples already out there. In fact, there are plenty of them right here on the Tradogram website including case studies of Technical America Inc., Leafline Labs, and plenty more!

Whether you’re comparing resource cost rates, monitoring cost, performing bottom-up estimates, or attempting to carry out analogous estimating based on multi-project similarities, chances are a competitor out there has gone through a similar situation and documented it from the start till the completion of the project. Perhaps they’ve found a solution that could help reduce costs and steer you in the right direction. These success stories can take the form of case studies, blogs, press releases, and even documentaries, so don’t be afraid to dig around and see what you can find online.

Invest the time in finding project cost estimation examples that align with your business as closely as possible, and you just might have an easier time figuring out what changes to make yourself. The only trick to this is understanding what’s unique about your operations, and applying a spin to the proposed solution that better aligns and streamlines it with your project management capabilities and goals.


In many projects, budgets, and costs can change unexpectedly due to various reasons. Changes in market conditions, fixed and variable costs, project scope, and other unforeseen events can render previous budget estimates impractical. To stay on track and achieve project goals even when these changes occur, there’s a need to have strategies in place to help you adapt accordingly.

Your contingency plan should outline what needs to be done in cases of unexpected cost changes. This plan may include setting aside a small budget reserve that can be used to cover the difference between budgeted and actual cost. The plan should also outline how you intend to evaluate cost excesses and decide on the right course of action or make changes to the project when they occur.

Regular budget reviews on a monthly or quarterly schedule are essential for keeping track of expenses. These allow you to identify potential issues early on so you can strategize on resource allocation.

In some cases, you might need to prioritize tasks as part of measures to maintain control over your budget and costs. By identifying the most critical tasks and allocating resources accordingly, project teams can ensure that they are using their resources effectively. Project managers may have to make difficult decisions about which tasks should be prioritized and which ones need to be postponed or eliminated altogether with the goal of reducing business expenses. Prioritizing tasks this way helps the project team stay on track and achieve project goals while adapting to cost changes.


Budgeting and project cost control are ongoing processes that need to be continuously refined and improved in order to achieve effectiveness. By carrying out regular reviews of your budgeting process and cost-control strategies, you can take corrective actions that optimize project activities and leads to bigger wins in cost savings.

Doing a post-project review is one of the ways you can identify areas of the cost control process that are in need of improvement. During this review, you get to analyze the budget, expenses, and the effectiveness of the cost control strategies you implemented during the course of the project.

Conducting a post-project review after every project makes it possible to identify areas in need of improvement so you can incorporate the lessons you have learned into future projects. By analyzing past projects and identifying what worked well and what didn't, project teams can make changes to their budgeting and cost control strategies to optimize their processes for future projects.

Project cost data analysis is a critical component of effective budgetary cost control and it’s even more important when you’re trying to achieve continuous improvement in your processes. With variance analysis, you can identify patterns and trends, plug loopholes and identify areas in need of improvement. It’s a good thing many project management solutions come with features that allow you to perform cost analysis which powers data-driven decision-making.


Some tricks in the book are pretty dirty, meaning that a series of unfortunate events are often tied to them. Employees are willing to invest their time, skills, and energy in your cause, so the best strategies are those that meet them halfway and aren’t so one-sided. For example, intense maneuvers such as implementing mass layoffs, pay cuts or otherwise, that hurt employees are only asking for trouble. Expect morale and performance to drop, followed by a decline in retention. This also creates more work internally through the need to rehire, which itself can present cost upticks and time allocation with training – and that’s if the new hires turn out to even be as good as the workers you had.

With this example, we can see the domino effect unfolding, and these are “cost control” procedures to avoid and leave in the past where they belong – there’s no control to be seen when everything unravels! We mentioned draconian methods earlier on and weren’t kidding; operators need to consider not only the importance of cost control in all aspects of the business but also the repercussions of these measures on the final cost of the project.


In closing, let’s revisit the critical elements of cost control:

  • Accurate spend allocation, transparent viewpoints, and data tracking
  • Knowing your strengths and areas that need more attention
  • Seamless communications to let nothing slip through the cracks and manage costs effectively
  • A clear roadmap to keep all project managers on the same page
  • Informed decisions for effective change

It’s clear that optimal cost estimation and budgeting in project management are driven by data. A deeper understanding of your own operations is therefore critical.

Interested in learning additional procurement tips? Check out these procurement best practices to prepare for the future. And be sure to learn why it’s so important to undertake a digital procurement transformation.

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