Spreadsheets are a Project Managers go to tool in the project management toolbox. Combine neat and clean data with VBA, an Excel spreadsheet can really help a project to quickly analyse data and make decisions proactively and efficiently.

GBA Projects recently obtained a research grant to understand what makes a project cost control system tick. One key area of focus these past few weeks has been centred around the application of complex software functionality to a basic spreadsheet. One such function is the ability to give a control account a start and finish date as well as a budget, and allow the software to spread those costs according to a pre-defined curve.

Many cost management systems such as EcoSys, Prism G2 and Deltek Cobra enable this to occur through their base functionality.

From our research it is now more common to see projects apply a ‘time-phased budget’ mentality as opposed to a cost loaded schedule practice. This means that the majority of end users are using ‘control buckets’ with dates to spread cost over time. The buckets are then coded to enable each bucket to be grouped and sorted by the WBS or any other structure necessary.

Cost loading a schedule can be very difficult, especially when the granularity of an estimate doesn’t align to the schedule. In the majority of cases the WBS is not used as the Schedule and Estimate structure base. This is noted in most cases within organisations who are evolving their project controls practices.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been putting our research to good use and developed a short VBA script to enable users to spread costs over a time period.

This video shows how the script functions on a few basic control accounts:

This is a big deal because most of the time, a project forecast needs to be based on a pre-defined spread of data (e.g. a bell curve) and can be hard to implement in a standard spreadsheet.

So, how did we do it? We’re offering up a free project schedule audit to the value of $5,000 to the first person who can work out how the algorithm functions!

To enter, send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your ideas as to how an Excel spreadsheet could be used to automatically calculate a project’s time-phased cost.

We’ll be closing entries at 5pm ACST on Friday, April 5th, with the winner to be contacted and announced on our LinkedIn page the next day. Good luck!

Terms & Conditions of Entry

  • The first successful winner of the competition ("the Applicant") will be awarded the project schedule review. 
  • Unsuccessful applicants will be notified via email.
  • GBA Projects will undertake the project schedule review work ("the Services") from Adelaide.
  • The Applicant is responsible for providing GBA Projects with any and all information required for GBA Projects to undertake an effective review.
  • The Services will commence upon written instruction from the Applicant to GBA Projects to commence the Services. GBA Projects will then have fifteen business days with which it will conduct the Services.
  • As part of the Services, GBA Projects will provide a deliverable ("the Report") up to ten PDF A4 pages in length. It remains the discretion of GBA Projects as to the content and length of the Report.
  • All entrants information will be treated as confidential.
  • The Services conclude once GBA Projects has issued the report formally via email to the Applicant.

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