Budgets are probably everybody’s least favorite things to talk about. But what’s even less fun is not having a well-defined budget. Without a good budget, you risk running out of money, spending too much on the wrong aspects of a project, or not spending enough, leading to an inferior final product.
That’s why project budgets are important. Project budgets are a list of all the expected expenses for a project. are a form of resource planning that helps you understand how your money should be spent. They help you guide the initial planning of the project and help you decide what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and what tools you’re going to need to get the job done. Because of this, are an important part of the project management planning process that shouldn’t be skipped or fast-tracked in any way.
Budgets used to be the exclusive domain of spreadsheets. But not everyone likes creating budget spreadsheets (or any kind of spreadsheet for that matter). That’s where project budget templates come in handy.
What is a project budget template?
A project budget template is a project management template used for creating project budgets. These are documents that outline all expected costs for the various stages of the project, including staffing, project tools, and other related project costs. Using a template helps ensure that you’re not missing any important pieces of information that could lead to a less-than-accurate budget. When working in a spreadsheet template, for example, you could potentially miss some deliverables.
Business budget templates also give you a way to measure the budget in a more concrete way than you would in an excel template because you’re not only able to provide more detail about each line item, you’re able to present the budget in a way that’s easy to read and understand at a glance.
The importance of project budget for project management
Project budgets are ultimately how you end up running a successful project from a project management point of view. A poorly put-together project budget can scuttle a project before it’s anywhere close to being complete. But, it’s not simply a matter of figuring out the costs of a project and hoping everything works out. A good budget takes into consideration details of the project plan like how effective certain team members are at working together or whether you’re planning a project during vacation season, which can add to the timeline, and budget, of projects.
Budgets also help project managers decide who they’re going to work with, what tools they’re going to use, and even how the project will be run. When you know how much money you have at your disposal, you can fill out the , send it to the most suitable vendors, and pick the ones that fit in with your budget. You can also use budget trackers to make sure you’re staying within budget.
What is included in Coda's project budget template?
Your budget should contain as much information related to project costs as possible. This includes all costs either directly or indirectly connected to the project, although some indirect costs don’t have much of an impact, they should still be considered.
Ideally, your should live within the project charter.
Summary of project costs
Be sure to include all project costs here (also called line items). This is going to be a high-level look at what you’re expecting things to cost and where the biggest chunks of the budget are going to be spent. Ideally, this section should outline everything listed below, direct and indirect costs, capital costs, etc., to give stakeholders a sense of what the finer points of the budget are going to look like.
These are actual costs directly related to the project. Direct costs include expenditures like your project team costs, tools, supplies, labor costs, or material costs. Basically, everything you need to do the work itself.
Indirect costs are costs you need to be aware of, but aren’t connected directly to the project. This doesn’t mean they shouldn't be considered, but they’re mostly things like utilities, building maintenance, security, and administrative costs, etc. In other words, they’re business costs, more than project costs.
Odds are, capital costs aren’t going to be something you need to worry about if you’re working on projects like building software, but they can still exist in some projects, especially when you’re starting a new business. These are one-time expenses that typically come with things like purchasing land, buying company vehicles, or construction costs (if you happen to be working on a construction project).
Operation costs are the expenses related to running your business. They’re not often going to be a factor when running a project, but can be grouped into indirect costs, since the business is still spending the money on them.
Project delivery costs
Project delivery costs are how much money it takes to successfully deliver the project. This is typically where most of your time will be spent when budgeting because you’re putting together a summary of project delivery costs.
Project management costs
Project management costs are similar to project delivery costs, but are more centered on how much it costs to manage everything. This is all the time and energy that goes into making sure everything runs smoothly, stays within budget, and happens on schedule.
👉 Get started with this critical path method template.
After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free project budget template for your projects and business.
How to use this project budget template in Coda
Step 1: Fill out basic project details
On the page, you’ll see some fields at the top of the page for you to fill out. These are just high-level meta data about your project. You can also rename this page so that the name matches the name of your project. The Last edited date automatically updates based on when someone has made an edit to this template.
Step 2: Add or edit categories for your tasks
If your project has high-level categories or phases, you should edit them in the table. These categories show up in the table. The Description column gives people a sense of what each of your task category or phases means. When your categories are set up, click on the Add an ... button depending on which category you want to start adding tasks to in the main table.
Step 3: Fill out project budget columns
The table is the main table to fill out the budget for each line item (enter a dollar value in the blue Budget column). Each task you add here can have a Labor, Materials, and Other Fixed Costs. These are the “actuals” for the task and are typically entered after you’ve established the budget for the task and have done the research on the costs associated with a task.
If you want to add some additional columns for things like Capital costs or Project delivery costs mentioned above, this template is totally customizable. The only thing to make sure of is to edit the formula in the Actuals column. This column takes all the data you entered in Labor, Materials, and Other Fixed Costs and calculates the actual costs.
Step 4: View budget vs. actuals summary
On the page, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of your project budget, summary, and variance. The two charts below the summary show you a visual of your budget vs. actuals by project category and project task.
Project Budget Template FAQs
What is a budgeting process?
The process of determining how much money you’ll need for a project. The ideal process involves going through each potential expense, listing it out, and estimating how much it’s going to cost.
This process can be tricky the first time you work on a certain type of project, but as you gain more experience you get better at estimating the individual costs. For instance, if you’ve worked with a specific design team before, you’ll know how they work and will have an increasingly accurate sense of what it costs to hire them.
How to create a budget plan for a project?
The best way to create a budget plan for projects is to be as specific and detailed as possible. It’s not going to be a glamorous task, but the more detail you go into, the more accurate your estimated budget is going to be. As time-consuming as the process can be, you can break it down into easier steps.
The first thing you need to do is parcel out your project into project tasks or milestones. These are also sometimes called work breakdown structures (WBS). You do this because it’s easier to figure out the cost of individual pieces, rather than the whole thing. Once you’ve broken it down into tasks, determine what resources you’ll need to complete each chunk. This includes team members, tools, and anything else you’ll need. Take a look at all the resources you’ll need for each segment of the project and do a cost estimate for each one. Once you know the costs for each task or milestone, you can add them all together to come up with a total project cost. Don’t forget to factor in any taxes you may have to pay Add a little bit of “just in case” money to your budget, you know, just in case things go pear-shaped. Get approval for your budget and start the project.
Who is responsible for approving the project budget?
The answer to this question typically depends on the structure of your organization. Typically, project budgets are approved by one or more of the key stakeholders in your project. This could be department heads, project sponsors, the CEO, or even the client. If you’re uncertain who the approvers are, check the . You should find the information you’re looking for in there.