Compiling a quick and accurate project budget estimate during presales is not an easy task. Especially on those special occasions when you receive the news on Wednesday that you have time until Friday to submit a full response for proposal.
One of the most important things that I have learned during project estimates is not to leave anything outside of the estimate. Finding all the necessary features that need to be implemented matters more than being 100% accurate on the estimated time for developing each project feature. That is because no matter how much you artificially inflate your existing numbers, you can never be certain it can cover for the case when you missed out the elephant in the room.
So having that in mind, I try to spend as much time as possible in scoping out every possible feature of the project. And for tackling the estimate with accuracy, I try to build for myself the necessary tools that would help me to better centralize things and to automatically calculate any additional overheads that each project has.
This is the context that motivated me to build the attached Project Budget Estimate template. The template has several sheets with compiled information concerning almost all roles involved in a presales process.
In its composition, the Project Budget Estimate template has 7 sheets:
The Dashboard sheet presents an overview of the pricing for each phase of the project. It is dedicated to the sales team and it helps them to easily extract the costs of the project and apply discounts.
Project Estimate Sheet
The Project Estimate sheet is the playing ground for the solution architect or the developer responsible for estimating the project work.
What is so nice about the calculations in this sheet is that several project roles activities are calculated as percentage. That includes discovery phase, quality assurance, code review, technical specifications and project management.
The reason behind this decision is that the person in charge of the estimate should focus as much time as possible on discovering the scope of the project rather than spending valuable time on calculations.
Furthermore, the price of the project is calculated in a very granular way, covering each feature, each project phase and each team role. This gives the flexibility for sales team members to individually negotiate every feature of the project scope during customer discussions.
Rate Card Sheet
From this sheet, the sales rep. has the possibility to setup the rates for all roles used in the project estimate. One additional cool feature is that you have the option to change the currency of choice across the entire document. This particular feature killed a few neurons in the making :).
Risk Register Sheet
The Risk Register sheet has the role of centralizing all the risks that are identified during the estimate process. The reason why it is added to the Project Budget Estimate template is because each and every risk that you find holds a stake in the project. And as such, it’s best to centralize it right away after you discover it.
One additional feature that the Risk Register sheet provides is the possibility to add padding on the high-level project timeline based on discovered risks. You can see the formulas included on the high-level timeline sheet.
Assumptions Register Sheet
Following the same approach as with the Risk Register, the Assumptions Register aims to centralize all the assumptions and the constraints that are identified during the estimate efforts.
The Assumptions Register sheet doesn’t have any impact on the high-level timeline of the project.
Project High-Level Timeline Sheet
One of the most important additions when you are in a hurry is the auto generated project high-level timeline :). The Project High-Level Timeline sheet uses the data from Project Estimate Sheet and based on a start date that you provide, it generates a Gantt chart with all project phases. A nice thing about the timeline is that it takes into consideration weekends as well, so it doesn’t just count the days since project start.
The last sheet from the file is called Settings sheet and contains various parameters that are used across the document. You can adjust the percentage of the project overhead, the risk categories and the currencies that can be used in the document.
You can download the Project Budget estimate template from below the article. I hope you find it useful. I battle tested this template long enough in my day to day presales efforts and I can say for sure it is a great asset!