Project Portfolio Management: Understanding a Project Plan and Budget

Project-based organizations deal with a multitude of different challenges and roadblocks every day. The variability and unpredictability of every challenge require a team of critical thinkers uniquely aware of your organization and able to dedicate themselves to combating challenges as they present themselves. However, oftentimes it isn’t enough to simply deal with challenges as they present themselves. Organizations need to strive for a proactive, rather than reactive approach. Development of a Project Plan and Project Budget are critical to preventing a reactive strategy of dealing with challenges, which can cause delays in the project and result in long hours of manual work. Below, we’ll detail what a Project Plan and a Project Budget are and how you can leverage these tools to stay on time and within budget.

A Project Plan is a tool for the Project Manager to execute the intended project objectives defined in its scope. Oracle offers tools within Project Financial Management to manage projects from start to finish, and tailor it to your project-specific requirements for tracking and reporting purposes. The Financial Plan types which come with Oracle focus on different options of Cost and or Revenue settings which you can attach to Project Templates or directly to a project. Be careful in reading the descriptions to ensure you have the right Plan for your project. 

These Plans will sync assignments, settings, currencies, reporting, and other various planning options for your project. These can be adjusted for your organization by creating your own or updating the delivered Financial Plan Types which come with Oracle Cloud. We recommend that if you are choosing to change a delivered plan to save it as a new version to retain the delivered.

A key component of Project Planning in Oracle Cloud is the Resource Breakdown structure or RBS. The RBS offers flexibility for Project Managers to track costs by different categories and levels. Depending on your industry and organization you will have different objectives here to determine which to prioritize and track. The delivered formats on the default Resource Breakdown structure are Equipment, Financial Resources, Labor, and Material Items. You can map these resource categories to specific Resource Formats for planning project spend.

For example, our firm which uses Cloud Time and Labor and Cloud Expenses has all expense related information maps to Financial Resources so we can track spend against our budget for each client; however, for Time data we have added “Name Person” and “Job” to our RBS. This allows for the ability to Plan at a Person level for Labor.

As a Project Manager it’s important to be able to quickly analyze project status and make decisions. It is critical to have accurate and effective information to do this. The Project plan acts as your foundation for this, and making sure the plan is configured to track spend correctly sets you up for success. It’s important to define specific data points for reporting.

 Establishing an accurate Project Plan in Oracle Cloud allows the Project Manager to analyze the project as it progresses to ensure things are staying on track.

The Project Budgeting functionality offers another layer for Reporting. Project budgets can be created from the Project Plan, manually, or copied from another source. We recommend creating these directly from your Project Plan to reduce data entry and ensure accuracy from the baselined Plan. Revenue can be established for the Project and compared against cost to give the Project Manager an idea on the profitability. The baseline for the Project Budget drives the Project Performance reporting measures in Cloud as actuals are used. This can be viewed from the “Current” and “Original”, if a budget baseline shifts throughout the project. 

Oracle updated the Manage Budgets user interface in Cloud with release 17B, it recently became the standard if you had not previously opted in for it. The user-friendly work area streamlines monitoring the Revenue, Costs, and Margin of your project real-time for Budget versus Actuals. 

Being able to see these metrics in real-time enables the Project manager to act quickly. Seeing revenue being under or unplanned costs impacting project profitability for example is critical for shifting resources correctly to make sure things stay on track and all resources are being used effectively. These tiles are easy to process and are updated based on the data within the application so the health of your project is always up to date and shows the power of end to end processing in an ERP Application. 

Taking time during the start of your Project Financial Management setup will pay dividends for your organization’s Project reporting and ensure you maximize Return on your investment in Oracle Project Financial Management. To do this make sure all factors of the Project Financial Settings are configured correctly. Check out Oracle documentation on the definition of these and the examples they provide.

In this second post of our PPM blog series, we’ve defined what a Project Plan and Budget are, why they are important tools, and how these tools can be leveraged and applied to maximize their effectiveness. Stay tuned for our upcoming third post of the series where we’ll talk about the Project Performance Tools and Dashboards where the Plans and Budgets allow the Project Manager to apply them for tracking actual spend and revenue generation. In the meantime, check out our previous post, Project Portfolio Management Overview: what is it and how it will help your organization. 

View our PPM Webinar Recording