Project Budget

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Engineering project management courses drill into you that for a project to succeed you had to have the three legs of the project management triangle defined and controlled: budget, schedule, scope. An imperfect model as it may be, we will use this idea to analyze the project and move towards our goals. The astute readers will see that schedule is defined, so in this post let’s think through budget and see my follow-on post for project constraints <link>.

So let’s talk money.

Well folks, I hate to break it to you: I’m neither Jeff Bezos nor Elon Musk. A multi-billion dollar budget would be great to have, but I don’t have it. And, to be fair, if I were starting this project out with such vast sums of money, it wouldn’t make for an interesting read. Aside from “spaceflight is my side-gig” kinds of money, we need to think of something a bit more down to earth (eh? eh?).

From my perspective, I should only invest as much as I’m willing to lose and never see again. While I have every expectation to succeed there certainly is no guarantee. Life happens – remember 2020? So with that in mind, a fair budget to start with will be capped at $2000. I will also allow some flexibility with this depending on if I see some momentum begin to build up, so let’s include a +25% conditional buffer.

Before getting emotions involved and deciding that I want to flex my budget because it feels like things might start working out, I should also decide the parameters for how and when the buffer will be utilized. Since I haven’t yet gone through the process of deciding what this business will be, I’ll need to cast a wide net to capture as many possible scenarios as I can. So here’s a rough and intentionally vague list of conditions I think will lead to reaching into my buffer:

  • Customer/consumer engagement is increasing but can dramatically increase with added funds
  • The additional money will clear the final hurdle to getting a product to market, assuming funds have been utilized wisely up to the threshold
  • Clients are lined up and ready to work with me, but I need certain tools or software licenses to begin working on contracts

This is a pretty loose set of definitions, but ultimately they decision to increase budget will be to push my project across the finish line to launch. Note that my goal won’t be to become profitable or wildly successful. I am only aiming for launch with a legitimate business.

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