Step 6. On Budget

Good - Cheap - Fast

This should ideally come as early on in the project as the brief, but more often than not it is up to you to define how you’re going to be recompensed for your hard work and most importantly how you keep track of time and resources spent to make sure you don’t go over budget. We look at ways to budget a creative project and how to track your time.

Most clients prefer a breakdown of your project costs so that they can see what you are spending their money on… and the slightly stingy ones might try and shave off a few pounds here and there.

Here are a few examples of costs for a small to medium sized creative project, which should ideally feature in a quote to a client or ‘statement of work’:

  • Artistic direction
  • Producer time
  • Project management time >> this can be a percentage of the overall labour cost e.g. anything between 10% – 50% depending on how complex the project is
  • Supplier services
  • Material costs
  • Equipment hire
  • Venue hire or rent
  • Transport and packaging
  • Marketing and PR
  • Travel expenses
  • Insurance, licence
  • Contingency >> 5%-10% of the overall budget costs should be enough to cover those unknown unknowns

In order to get subtotals of the above costs, you would have to breakdown the project into tasks and subtasks so that you can get more accurate estimates of time and resources needed. Here is what this could look like:

Sample project budget
Sample project budget

If you haven’t come across Smartsheet.com yet, then it might be worth checking it out. To use the software, you would have to pay, but there are quite a few free templates on the Smartsheet.com resource page to help you create project budgets, track time, timelines etc.

Once you have managed to negotiate your budget, which includes tasks where you have guesstimated the time, you better start tracking how long they actually take you to do. That way, you might have some figures based on reality rather than guesswork next time around or you can alert your client that more budget is needed. There are various free tools for tracking time. One of my favourite ones is Toggl.com where you can track your time per task / per team / project / client and create beautiful charts that show what you and your team have spent your valuable time on. Here is an example of a Toggl report, which can also be exported as a PDF or CSV file and attached to an invoice:

Time tracking with Toggl
Time tracking with Toggl.com

If you are short of time and would like someone from Developing Dreams to help you put together a project budget or timeline or maybe even help you with some of the deliverables then what are you waiting for? Get in touch!

**This is part 6 of a 7 article series. Missed step 1? Read A Jargon Free Anatomy of a Creative Brief.

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