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When you’re a project manager or a team leader, you always need to keep track of your project’s costs. It doesn’t matter whether your project is an internal undertaking or something that is sponsored by external stakeholders: knowing how much costs it generated allows you to lead your team better and potentially improve the cost management plan.
In this blog post, we’ll show you how to track project expenses using a resource management tool, Teamdeck. We’ll focus on the costs generated by your team members working on the project—such an analysis will be especially useful for companies who work on time & materials basis, where each hour counts to the overall budget. Other project-related costs are obviously important as well, but they tend to be much easier to track.
For starters, let’s recap the main advantages of using a robust app for project budget tracking.
How will project cost tracking with Teamdeck benefit you?
We think it’s rather safe to say that you understand the importance of tracking project costs. The thing is that many companies still rely on outdated tools for controlling project budgets, most notably spreadsheets. We’ll argue that using a dedicated tool, whether it’s a project management app or a resources-focused one like Teamdeck, gives you a significant edge.
First of all, you need the data to be precise and up-to-date. After planning the budget carefully, you need to be able to tell if everything’s going according to the plan. It isn’t easy to keep spreadsheets accurate, especially when you have to track multiple team members’ work. Asking them to fill out timesheets will help, but it may be an inconvenient option, especially if your team works on the go (e.g., event management). Teamdeck is a single source of truth regarding your team’s workload and timesheets. All employees can manually enter their recorded time entries or use a mobile time tracker, whichever feels more comfortable. Project managers can easily calculate project costs based on how much time each team member spent on the project.
The other important aspect of tracking project costs is being able to dig deeper into the data quickly. You may want to investigate the expenses generated by different teams or assess how different weeks looked compared. Apps with project reporting features allow you to do that easily without spending too much time on redesigning the report. Your project cost report is always there and always up-to-date, ready to be further analyzed or shared with other people.
Create your own project cost report
The first thing you need to do is create a Teamdeck account. You can test the app for free for seven days and explore all features during that time, including powerful project reports. Sign up here.
Before you can start analyzing your projects’ costs, you need to have some data to track. For new Teamdeck users, there are two options here:
- get your team members on board and ask them to start recording their timesheets in Teamdeck.
- test Teamdeck using sample data provided by us. This option is available in the organizations view – simply click on “play with sample data” and see how it’s like to do cost tracking with Teamdeck.
Once you have some data to analyze, you can head to the app’s top menu and click on “reports.”
As you click on “create new report,” you can choose between template reports or create one from scratch. In this tutorial, we’ll start with an empty report, so click on “create custom.”
Note: a template called Project Budget will be a nice alternative for cost tracking purposes if you want to get a head start here.
Now that you have your project report, you need to name it and select the date range.
Ready? Let’s start adding charts and tables to your project budget tracking report.
Compare the estimated costs with the actual costs
Comparing the estimated costs and the actual costs is a useful chart to have in your project costs tracking reports. In Teamdeck, you can calculate the estimates using your team’s bookings and use their timesheets as the actual costs. Let’s create a line chart with these two values:
By looking at this chart, we can see that the timesheets line has crossed the bookings line at one point, and the actual time spent has been much higher than the estimates ever since. It’s a good start for a more in-depth analysis of our project’s budget.
Note: As you can see, only one of the projects is visible here on this chart. It’s because we’ve used a filter and decided only to analyze this particular project:
Track project costs (billable and non-billable)
Now, let’s add a table where we can calculate the cost of the project based on our resources’ timesheets.
Start by adding a table to your report. By default, it will have a couple of columns, but you can remove all of them except for the timesheets. We now need to add two new columns—one for specifying the hourly cost of work (“hourly rate”) and one for the total cost (“costs of the project”). Both columns will consist of values that aren’t gathered in Teamdeck by default: we either need to input it manually (the hourly rates) or create an automatic calculation (to multiply time and hourly costs). Click on “metrics” and then “add custom”.
Now, you’ll see three different options—let’s quickly explain how they work:
- Add custom calculation field: create a column the content of which is calculated based on a formula specified by you. We need this kind of column to calculate the cost of the project, but first, we need to add a column for the hourly rate of your resources.
- Add custom value column: create a column that acts like a spreadsheet, you can enter data to each cell by hand and edit it anytime.
- Import custom values column: this option allows you to import custom columns from other reports.
Let’s add the columns now!
First, click on “add custom value column” and give it a name (in our case it’s “hourly rate”). Then, pick the type of data that will be stored here.
When you save that column, it should appear in your report. Click on the empty cell and type the value of your team’s hour of work. Can’t come up with one value here because all of your team members have different hourly rates? Don’t worry! We’ll cover that scenario in a bit.
For now, let’s add a column for the overall cost of the project. Click on “Add custom calculation field” and use the following formula:
Timesheets: Time / 60 * Custom values: Hourly Rate
You might be wondering why we need to divide the first value by 60. The reason is simple: timesheets are stored in our system as minutes, so for them to be treated as hours, we have to divide them by 60.
Your table is ready:
What if you have resources with different hourly costs working on the project?
You can leave the same table setup as in the previous paragraphs, but you have to specify everyone’s rates. Access the list of people by clicking on the arrow next to the project name:
Now, type the rate of each person in the empty cell in their row. You will notice that the calculated field will start to populate with the costs generated by each employee.
Of course, you want to see the overall costs as well. In order to sum up all of the particular resources’ costs, you need to click on the “costs of the project” cell in the total row and type in the following formula:
=sum(nested(group: People, Custom formulas: Costs of the project))
Click enter—the final row will now display the sum of each persons’ costs:
Teamdeck also allows you to analyze only the billable or non-billable hours. Each time entry recorded by your resources can be categorized appropriately (using the so-called timesheet tags). All you have to do to generate, say, billable costs, is to enter a filter:
Similarly, you can focus solely on the non-billable hours and, as a result, calculate the internal costs.
Knowing how much money you have to pay for the non-billable activities may help make some cost optimization decisions both in terms of the project budget but also e.g., reducing the number of unnecessary meetings.
It may be the case that you’re not able to explain certain trends in data just by looking at the numbers. This is why you can add a column for timesheet descriptions in your report. Descriptions are comments your employees make when logging a given time entry. Looking at the description, you can precisely tell what a given team member has been up to when they logged in overtime, for example.
Share the budget report with your client or the payroll team
Chances are that you want to share your budget report with other people: the client, your managers, and your team. With Teamdeck, you can generate a link to your report and send it to relevant people. Play with the report we’ve built in this blog post here.
We hope that this tutorial will help you create a cost tracking report for your projects. If you have some cost reporting needs we didn’t address in this blog post, we encourage you to schedule a call with Aniela. She’ll be happy to show you how you can create an auto-updating report that perfectly fits your team’s needs.