Article: What Is Cost Management?

Nov. 17, 2011

Following the “what is”-series regarding different business areas is here an article about what Cost Management is. The idea of the “what is”-series is to write the articles in a way that people who have never been in contact with the area will understand.

Cost Management is the process of planning and keeping track of costs in the organization. Cost management should be obvious for most organizations to make sure that individual projects as well as the overall operations move according to plans.

Over all, a well implemented cost management strategy will help to reduce costs for production of products and services as well as creating an increased value for the customers.

It is easy to say that cost management is something that is for the overall strategy for the company, but it is something that normally is taken into account for even the smallest projects. However, all costs together are based on the overall cost strategy.

Cost Management Software to help in planning and keeping track of costs are mostly seen in the production and manufacturing area. But since costs are part of most areas in a company, software like project management software, issue tracking software and help desk software also include cost management in their systems.

A common way to work with cost management in a project is to first plan the costs divided on different phases of the project. All costs that is supposed to be affecting the project will be accounted for, such as personnel costs, material costs and third party costs. The more detailed the planning is, the easier it will be to follow up costs in the project.

Once the project is launched, the project manager will have to use resources as planned and if there are any situations arising where more resources are needed for the project decision need to be made by the project board.
The project manager may appoint responsibility to approve purchases to members of the project and the purchases need to be filled in into the cost management software or whatever software used accordingly.

After the project is finalized, a review of all costs will be made. This will help in improving the cost strategy for future projects. The post project review is an extremely important part of the cost management and should not be neglected.
The first projects run after creating a cost management strategy almost never go as planned. This is where the final phase comes in. By reflecting on what happened in a project you will be able to learn for the future and after a few projects your predictions will be much closer to the real outcome.

Cost management is sometimes well combined with the plan for revenue outcome of the project. This is why the project management team allow for costs to increase more than what is budgeted. However, it is important to plan for a project to be cancelled if costs are not as planned. This is why projects are divided into phases or at least have milestones where you reflect over the progress of the project. During these periods of reflection not only costs will be reflected over, but also timing of the project, changed factors on the market, etc. With all these factors in consideration it is important to dare to discontinue a project if it is not in the best interest of the company.

Cost management is much more than a cost management software to keep track of all costs and be able to plan and budget projects. It is an overall strategy that need to be formed and by having a cost management attitude your company will be much more prepared for situations that will arise and therefore have higher possibilities to survive throughout financial crises.