Reporting the costs of your project with software

Costs graph, featuring Cash in and Cash out

When managing a project, having a complete overview of what is happening everywhere is the key to success. Therefore, having the right tools to handle all the relevant information of the project will be a great asset.

The amount of data that a cost manager works with in a regular project is usually quite big. There are cost control components with their related changes, plans and schedules of the different areas, commitments and actuals or other progress measurements. That is the main reason why cost management software is so important nowadays.

Good cost management software allows the cost manager to keep all those data up to date. When choosing such software, it is important to keep in mind questions such as: is it possible to extract all the pertinent information? Can you easily find the data that will help you to make your decision or to show the real situation of your project?

The key points to ensure a good report are:

– Proper definition of variables to be monitored

– Organizing your project in a structural way.

– Timely gathering of all the progress information of your project.

Definition of monitoring variables

Depending on the type of the project certain variables will be more useful than others to define the status of the project, e.g. Total Costs, ETC, CPI, etc.

How to organize your data

It is important that data is organized from day one. Discuss with your team what the relevant information is that will be needed to monitor the project. Are you a contractor or an owner? Are you interested in specific information of your data like materials, key quantities, types of costs? What charts will be more useful?

A useful way of organizing your data is by using breakdown structures. A breakdown structure organizes a project into manageable sections. Probably there will be different aspects of the project that need to be monitored, therefore it’s good to have several breakdown structures that will classify the activities and components of your project in different ways.

Keep your project overview up-to-date

Another important aspect of reporting is keeping an updated schedule of all activities, with all the progress information, actuals and commitments. It is also important to save data from certain moments in time that will be use later when reporting.

With the correct variables and all the information up-to-date and organized, the reporting tool can be used to give all the relevant information of your project in a fast, accurate and smart way. The breakdown structures will be used to classify the information, and it will facilitate the comparison between different sections of your project. The reporting tool allows you to choose the variables you want to present.

One feature that can’t be missed is the possibility of creating different kind of charts and graphs, because some information is more effective when presented in a graphical way.

To summarize: discussing in advance the important variables that define your project, structuring all the data in your project from day one and keeping your project up to date will make the reporting tool a powerful instrument to always know the situation of your project and act consequently.

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