50+ Sample Project Budgets

What is a Project Budget?

A project budget is one of the major components of strategic project management as it helps a project manager to set the budget by having a sense of how much to spend on the project. It determines crucial decision points such as which professional to hire for the specific sub-task in the project, who can assist with several components and be able to work within the project budget, and what quality of materials is needed for the development of the project. This tool is useful for project managers and team members to assess whether they are progressing in the right direction once the project is ongoing.

Moreover, this document allows project managers to set accurate and realistic expectations with stakeholders, leverage transparency formed with the client, monitor progress, respond with corrective action if necessary, maintain expected margin, increase ROI, and produce data to benchmark for future projects. It is an essential aspect of cost management as it involves identifying the resources needed to execute and complete a project, quantifying the costs related to all the resources to finish the project, allocating costs to a specific component of the project, and measuring cost variances from the baseline.

Examples of Project Budgets

There are numerous project budgets that many professionals use such as a small business budget and an expense budget for their academic program projects, community projects, grant program projects, fundraising projects, and many other projects. Here are some common examples of project budgets used by construction managers, educators, researchers, software developers, and other project leaders.

Construction Project Budget: This type of project budget is used for construction building projects. Include several types of costs and the actual construction of the project. Consider the design costs, insurance costs, and utility costs to aid the construction process. The major costs that must be added to a construction project budget are hard costs, soft costs, general conditions, contingency costs, and permits and fees. Hard costs are all the costs for equipment, materials, and labor that go into the execution of the project. Soft costs are the design fees, bonds, insurance, legal assistance fees, and accounting consultant fees. General conditions are costs that don’t involve the actual building construction project such as the costs of temporary utilities, trailer rental, supervision labor, administration expenses, and project management fees. Contingency costs are used to cover unexpected costs or other expenses. Building permits and fees are the costs associated with the inspection and review of the construction project. Contractors need an effective construction project budget as it affects a number of major outcomes that rely on the whole success of the venture. School Project Budget: According to a statistical report, K-12 public schools spend about $612.7 billion annually or around $12,612 per pupil. It shows that there is a considerable increase in the average spend per pupil for the last six consecutive years. A school project budget is a complex and dynamic budget prepared by academic professionals and educators as it involves precise financial planning to guarantee funds get disbursed to the correct programs to support a high-quality learning environment for every pupil. Consider your past experiences and future expectations when you create a school project budget. Analyze the previous year’s budget and performance to obtain clear insights into the school’s spending. List down your measurable goals and objectives for the upcoming fiscal year while considering the impacts of external and internal factors. Calculate all of your current expenditures, recurring expenses, and indirect costs. After that, carry out a strategic action plan to bring all the essential components of the school budget together and translate them into manageable procedures. Grant Program Project Budget: This budget is included in a grant proposal as one of the crucial parts when it comes to applying for competitive grant funding. It is important to help prospective funders see your organization as worthy of funding. Implement systems of internal control to monitor all grant-related expenditures before submitting the application. When preparing this document, understand the key requirements of your funder based on their interests, mission, or scope such as the requested amount, budget format, budget type, matching funds, and revenue. Estimate reasonable costs with your team based on the collected data. Then, show the funders exactly how their grant funds will go and compare your grant budget to your grant narrative. Research Project Budget: It contains the essential components to developing any research study budget which includes administrative costs, staff costs, travel fees, supplies, equipment fees, and many other costs. Demonstrate how spending the funds will help you to answer your research question. When you create a cohesive budget for your research project, make a list of all your research activities, read the specific rules for research budgets to know what you need for your project, be realistic about to cost of each item, construct a simple spreadsheet, and justify your research project. Software Development Project Budget: A typical software development project budget may range from $50K to $1M. If you need to set a responsible budget for your software development project, you need to estimate the impact or value of your software project, understand the project’s internal costs, obtain a ballpark estimate, and secure funding for 150% of the ballpark estimate to protect you from the risk of being undercapitalized. Set a Phase 1 development budget for your software project along with your software developer and build the smallest possible one that delivers value.

Types of Project Budgeting Methods

There are common types of budgeting methods that many businesses and organizations use for their projects. Learn more about these budgeting methods in this section.

Incremental Budgeting: It is a simple and easy-to-understand budgeting method that helps project managers to add or subtract a percentage to get the current year’s project budget based on the preceding year’s actual figures. Follow the assumption that the expenditures that occurred in the previous financial duration will certainly be the beginning point for the new financial period. It is one of the most convenient methods to keep on track and ensure that project budgets continue to be stable over the fiscal duration. Activity-based Budgeting: It determines the number of inputs needed to support the targets or outputs established by the company or institution. Project managers identify the activities that must be undertaken to reach the sales target and measure the costs of executing these activities. This approach can be beneficial for business firms and companies that have complex and wide-ranging products and services.  Value Proposition Budgeting: Project managers use this method as they consider why the amount is included in the project budget, whether the item creates value for customers, staff, or other stakeholders, and check if the value of the item outweighs its cost. Value proposition budgeting focuses to ensure that everything is included in the budget that brings value to the business or company. It is a useful method to prevent unnecessary expenditures. Zero-based Budgeting: Managers use this budgeting approach when they have an urgent need for cost containment or when a company is facing a financial restructuring to dramatically reduce the budget. This method begins with the assumption that all business department budgets are zero and need to be rebuilt from square one. If you want to focus on your key objectives and prevent unnecessary costs, this method will help you to prevent the misallocation of sources and it can develop into even more focused procedures, lowered prices, and better project planning for the future.

How to Create a Project Budget

Are you having difficulties constructing a clear and systematic budget for your project? Take note of the simple steps you need to do so that you can create a reasonable budget for your project.

Step 1: Review Historical Data and References

Look back at your past projects similar to your current project and evaluate their budgets. Analyzing the historical data of your completed projects helps you to build your budget for your new project. Learn and understand the key points from the successes and failures of your historical data so that you are able to create more precise estimates. Search for effective ways for how project managers to keep their budget controlled which is important when you start tracking your findings in your business or organization.

Step 2: Get Help from Professionals

Consult with some trusted project management professionals in your field, especially those who have skills and expertise in project budgeting. Reach out to those mentors and budget experts who have made rough order of magnitude estimates and budgets. They can assist you with how you can remain on track and avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

Step 3: Analyze the Budget

When you are done with your project budget, analyze it and make sure that the figures are accurate and logical for the development and execution of your project. Check the WBS or work breakdown structure, project contract or initial budget, resource requirements, resource cost estimates, activity duration estimates, historical information, market conditions, and organization policies.

Step 4: Finalize the Project Budget

Wrap up your project budget with key people involved in your project. Get your budget managers and stakeholders on board so that you can obtain official approval for your project budget. Ask for their feedback on specific parts of the budget.


Why is a project budget essential?

A project budget is essential so that the project is accomplished on time. It helps the project manager to determine how much he can spend on each component of the project. Many professionals create a project budget to assist them in managing their income and expenditure as they compare their actual income or expenditure regularly to planned income or expenditure. In this way, they can know whether or not corrective action is needed.

What are some examples of project budgets?

Some examples of project budgets are charitable fund project budgets, civil project budgets, construction site project budgets, education project budgets, grant program project budgets, research project budgets, staff project budgets, software development project budgets, town project budgets, project program budgets, university project budgets, program budgets, and event project budgets.

What are the types of project budgets?

The most common types of project budgets are incremental budgets, activity-based budgets, value proposition budgets, and zer0-based budgets. Incremental budgets are budgets that use actual numbers from the former years and add or subtract a percentage to be utilized on the budget made in the future year. Activity-based projects are great for people and companies that have growing businesses. Value proposition budgets are budgets that examine each budget category or line item to justify expenses. A zero-based budget worksheet can be used to eliminate unnecessary expenses or waste.

One of the crucial elements of the project management process is creating a simple and realistic project budget. Whether you are preparing a construction, software, research, or school project, choose from the different budgeting methods, review historical data, get help from professionals in your field,  analyze your budget, and finalize it properly. We have sample project budget templates that you can easily use for your project budgeting such as annual budget templates, executive budget proposal templates, and health budget templates.