4 Factors That Determine Your Project Budget

4 Factors That Determine Your Project Budget
Summary: eLearning projects often are tagged as high-, low-, or normal-budgeted. In most scenarios, we end up deciding on the budget merely by reading through the script. This article will provide helpful insights on some of the factors that affect project budgeting and some suggestions to consider.

High, Low, Or Normal: What Is Your Project Budget?

Just two weeks ago, an eLearning project—tagged as low-budget—finally saw the light after a grueling 60 days of work! Initially, the project was assumed to be an eLearning course of 35 minutes duration. This duration was calculated by the time taken to read the script. So, because the script took 35 minutes to read, the learner would take 35 minutes to browse through the course. Too much to expect from learners, indeed! This low-budget, audio-visual project that had an avatar, interactive videos, simulation screens, practice exercises, and quizzes, eventually consumed 1.5 times the resources claimed by normal-budget projects. Why? Though you probably have the answer, we will analyze the factors one by one in a few minutes. We will also discuss the factors, which if considered before tagging projects as normal-, low-, or high-budgeted, can save resources as well as time.

1. Course Duration

An eLearning project, as majorly assumed, is a course. Course duration is the most crucial part of project planning and budgeting. Please remember that evaluating the course duration through the script is a sure-shot way of misjudgment and failure. The script doesn’t define the learning objectives, and it doesn’t talk about content treatment. A storyboard, however, does this better. It chunks the content into modules, lessons, topics, and pages (the typical MLTP way), and defines everything from objectives to screen transitions.

Suggestion: The course duration, if calculated from its storyboard, will yield a better approximation of timelines for browsing through the course as well as its development.

2. Delivery Timeline

After the course duration is decided, the next major factor is its delivery timeline. Now, if the course duration comes out of a faulty calculation from a script, the timeline will automatically turn out to be vague. Even before the beginning of the development phase, the timeline would look like a non-achievable target. The result? The resources start procrastinating about working overtime, even over the weekends, and ultimately, the quality suffers.

Suggestion: Instead of skimming through the script, analysis of the storyboard can yield a logical delivery timeline as well as resource planning.

3. Resource Planning

After deciding on the timelines, the next factor is the availability of resources, and staffing them on projects. If a novice designer/developer is staffed on a project that apparently has technicalities and a crunchy timeline, he/she would be more vulnerable to mistakes, and evidently, the quality will suffer. Please consider that the course duration is not the only factor in determining projects as low-budget, it is, though, one of the factors. So, a low-budget project doesn’t pertain to a resource with lesser skills or a resource whose skills don’t map with the project requirements.

Suggestion: Irrespective of high- or low-budget projects, if resource allocation is done as per skills and competencies, it will be a better utilization of the resource as well as the available time.

4. SME, Curriculum, And Out-Of-Scope Elements

Here come those knowledge transfer sessions from SMEs and deciding on the curriculum. Questions, answers, debates, arguments, and lack of empathy mark the beginning of curriculum design. A phase where an SME’s frame of reference is the product and a learning consultant designs the viability of the proposed learning subject—totally different! In most cases, a project suffers because we end up saying "yes" to each and every demand; and we don’t want the pain of recommending better solutions.

Suggestion: In scenarios, where you are asked to put every bit of content as a learning object, learn to recommend extra content to be put into appendices, further reading, or as downloadable documents. In a nutshell, learn to say "no" to out-of-scope elements. However, to be able to do so, you have to understand the subject matter and do your homework well before meeting the SME.

The world is dynamically changing where immense knowledge is being created, and at the same time it is volatile. To grow and develop is not the sole objective of survival. We have to grow, develop, and sustain as well. It is only with a little bit of conscious planning we can afford to hold on to this volatility and make use of the resources and time while also maintaining a conducive environment.

Happy budgeting!