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Tech projects - why they go over budget, and how to avoid that

by Maaike Geys , Feb 7

From construction site manager to IT project manager: we sat down with Sofie Frodure, junior PM at Blastic, to talk about lessons learned and project management 101. 

Sofie has been with Blastic since November 2019. Before that, she was a construction site manager for about four years. Going from construction projects to IT projects was a big change – but – both jobs have more in common than you might think at first. 

Hi Sofie, thank you for hanging out with us today. Has your background in construction helped you in your role as an IT project manager? 

Actually, it has! (Laughs). In both sectors, you must learn how to anticipate and think two steps ahead. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes is super important – both in construction and IT. Next to that, people management is also comparable: you need to make sure that people are meeting deadlines and delivering quality. There’s a lot of planning and admin that comes with both jobs as well. 

Speaking of quality – how important is project and scope definition when starting a new project? 

If you want your project to be delivered on time & within budget, you must start with a solid foundation. Outlining a project scope is very important, because a good common understanding of what the client is looking for (goals, objectives, requirements) is key at the start of any project. 

You should think of your project like a business case. At Blastic, we take the time to understand what is needed exactly. This forms the base for a thorough estimate, timeline, and budget. This doesn’t imply that we can’t be flexible throughout the project – our different project approaches (fixed price, time & means, managed time & means) will also go a long way.  

What’s the difference between a fixed price project and time and means projects? 

A fixed price project is a project that basically guarantees the delivery of a fixed scope by means of a fixed budget. For this type of project, it is very important to fix the scope at the beginning of the project so both the client and the project team understand exactly what will be delivered. Within the set budget there is no room for flexibility, although defining changes in the course of the project is of course always possible.

Although budgetwise there is less risk, the biggest risk is the fact that unforeseen things might come up or that ideas, approaches,… might evolve in the course of the project and that these are not foreseen in the scope or the impact on the scope, timing and budget. In order to take away these risks we have developed an approach that is called a Managed Time & Means approach. 

This means that we define the scope, we make the same estimation and then translate this into sprints. A sprint is a fixed period of time, usually 2 weeks, in which we deliver a working product. This can vary from a design or analysis to specific components or pages from the web platform. Before the start of each sprint, we sit together with the client and define what will be delivered at the end of that sprint. In this way the project stays flexible, before we start building anything, we see if what was agreed to be build is still what the customer wants. This way is a better way to keep the scope flexible with the changing needs and also keep the budget under control.

What is, in your opinion, the most important when building that client relationship? 

For me, it’s all about open communication. Things can change rapidly, and when they do, it’s important to communicate to your client, and fast. Honest communication goes a long way, and your client will appreciate knowing where they stand at all times. 

Final question, Sofie. What can a future project manager expect at Blastic? 

Challenging projects, awesome clients, a trustworthy team of developers and Quality Assurance managers, on whom you can literally build on and a team of projects mangers who all have a specific skill set. We all have different strengths and ways of working, which is why we continuously learn from each other! 

If Sofie’s story resonated with you, and you want to join our team as well, you can apply for open positions here. We’re always hiring talent, so please send us your spontaneous application if you feel like you’re the right fit for us. 

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