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7 Ways to Automate the Project Budget Management Process


As automation and AI-driven tools get smarter, there are more opportunities for businesses of all kinds to harness them across workflows. Automation obviously saves time and therefore, money, by streamlining repetitive tasks

But interestingly, even though the automation trend is strong, there’s a large chunk of people who are concerned. Not about AI or automation replacing their jobs, but about being able to keep up with the tech in order to leverage it in a meaningful way.

According to Visa’s Global Back to Business Study published in 2023, 91% of small businesses acknowledged they are considering implementing automation and/or AI in the next year to give them an edge against their competition.

At the same time, 67% of SMBs in the same study said they’re not confident they can keep up with these kinds of tech trends.

That is, more people than ever want to incorporate automation into their business processes, but they’re intimidated to do so.

One area where automation can make a substantial impact is project budget management. By using easy-to-configure, no-code automation, project managers can solve various problems that come organically with any new project budget. 

Follow along as we dive deeper into automation for budget management and how it can help you in your quest to churn out more profitable projects.  

What is project budget management?

The project budget is the financial plan that describes and quantifies all the estimated costs of activities required to complete the project. This includes materials, human resources, technological resources, and more. 

Project budget management is the process of creating, tracking, and adjusting the project budget to increase profitability while still maintaining quality.

Without monitoring the project budget closely, you can easily end up infuriating clients and/or diminishing your profit margin. For those reasons, budget management is one of the most essential disciplines of any skilled project manager. 

How automation solves problems with budget management

In any business, and even in daily life, fitting all the necessary expenses into a predetermined amount of money can be challenging. With project management, how you are fair on budget pretty much determines whether or not the project is a success.

Ipso facto, it’s easy to understand why budget management practices hold serious weight on both the total cost of the project and the probability of success. 

Automation can help optimize the budget management process by solving the following problems:

Admin drain

Even with all the software tools available to them, project managers and their teams still get bogged down by administrative tasks. Project budgeting and tracking are no exception. 

For example, every time you start a new project planning, you’ll have to create a new budget. This means entering a ton of numbers manually and pulling information from various places. Automation can eliminate a lot of this busy work by automatically populating critical data from your CRM, contracts, resource management, and more.

Real-time insights are necessary

In order to make sound financial decisions as the project progresses, project managers need to know what’s happening in real time. By the time you realize your team needs an additional 15 hours on a deliverable, for example, it may be too late.

The key is to have time & expense data that are as current as possible. Automation tools can help by pulling data into your field of view as it’s happening. This goes for every dollar spent and every hour tracked.

You can also configure this data into whichever representations you want. For budget management, it’s recommended to have budgets vs actuals, billable utilization, and capacity in constant view. 

Safeguards for budget overspending

No one wants their project to go off the rails, but it happens, even with the most experienced and skilled teams. Automation can give you a jump on budget dangers before they even happen.

With predictive analysis, you can automatically determine at which point(s) the project may be in danger of going over budget according to metrics of money and time. Your software can learn how to pinpoint this from past projects and from basic budget calculations against your current spending. 


Perhaps one of the most common ways businesses and individuals alike use automation in daily life is with alerts. In the interest of managing a project budget, you can set automated alerts for various situations that may require intervention. This can go a long way in preventing overspend. 

For example, you can customize an alert when your budget is about to hit a certain threshold, or automatically send a message to an employee who needs to submit their expense info. 

7 Ways to Automate the Project Budget Management Process

Automation is here to stay, and AI and other tools that use automation are now being used by project managers to increase the profitability of their projects. Here are the most common, easiest ways you can apply automation to budget management, specifically, to help keep your projects on track:

1. Templates, templates, templates

Use templates whenever possible to alleviate the admin energy suck that comes with creating a new project and a new budget. 

Most budget management tools will provide templates for both projects and budgets to help you save time. You can use this out-of-box or make your own based on a project budget in the past. 

And if your project management tool connects with your CRM, you can even automatically populate a lot of the budget from data that’s already in your deal.  

2. Auto-reconciliation

Auto-reconciliation is a feature offered by various accounting solutions to optimize your budget management. Auto-reconciliation speeds up the bookkeeping process by automatically comparing your financial data with what’s in your accounting tool and checking for irregularities. This is yet another example of how automation can eliminate costly extra steps in maintaining the financial health of projects. 

3. Real-time capacity planner 

Projects can easily go off the rail for small teams when they’re working above their capacity. Especially if you charge by the billable hour, a great way to incorporate automation into your budget tracking is to use a real-time capacity planner. 

This tool connects with your team’s time tracking info, so you can see at any given point where everyone stands in relation to their overall capacity. Before someone gets overloaded, you’ll be able to anticipate burnout and shift workaround to make sure deliverables are on time and under budget. 

4. Expense/VAT prediction

Here’s an example of predictive analysis in action. You’ll find that certain automated accounting solutions can automatically predict expense data and categorize it

This helps the finance department save a ton of time, and the functionality actually goes a step above automation into the realm of machine learning. 

In this scenario, the software learns from all your previous accounting info in order to accurately categorize future amounts into expense and VAT accounts. 

5. Automatic total adjustment

Accounting solutions and most project management tools will automatically adjust totals when you go in and edit line items in the budget. It’s a simple automation but nonetheless makes life easier for project managers. 

6. Real-time analytics & dashboards

To stay on top of your budget, you need to be able to understand where and how money is being used at any given time. With automation features, you can see all pertinent project tracking information with just a glance. 

In addition to straight numbers like budgets vs actuals, you can automatically run reports on metrics like billable utilization and see those figures in a handy dashboard. 

The idea is to be able to digest the critical numbers you want to see in a neat, visual format that won’t drain your brain. This is what makes the dashboard one of the strongest tools for project managers who need their fingers constantly on the pulse of their budgets. 

7. Automated alerts

Last but not least, automated alerts are a great tool to manage a project budget, and you can use them in a few different scenarios. One of the more obvious examples we touched on is budget overspending, where you can set up an alert for when time or money is at a certain threshold. 

But there are other automated alerts you can leverage, too. The world is your oyster as these take two seconds to set up. For instance, you can set alerts to ping you when someone has reached their weekly capacity. Or you can automatically notify team members to submit their time & expense. 

Transform Your Project Budget Management with Automation

Automation can help solve a lot of problems that organically arise during the process of budget management. This technology streamlines repetitive tasks, making it beneficial for budget tracking and oversight.

Automation solves common budget management issues by providing admin relief, real-time insights, overspend safeguards, and custom notifications. 

To supercharge your budget management– and thereby increase project profitability– leverage the latest automation in your project management software and/or your accounting software. 

The automation we discussed in this article is no-code and very easy to set up. If you need step-by-step guidance, check out your software’s help articles or contact customer support.