Planning to execute project book of workThe last posts covered an Overview of a Project Book of Work and how to Capture the Projects for a Book of Work.  So following these steps will mean that you have a consolidated, signed-off list of the projects that need to be executed.  Now comes the more difficult step of executing the book of work – making them reality! Below are some important steps you will need to take to give the book of work the best chance of being successfully executed.

You can get your own free copy of the Project Book of Work template by visiting Project Book of Work Template download.

1. Demand exceeds budget

It is highly likely that the initial budget estimates for the book of work will exceed the amount of available budget.  This means that if the estimates remain the same, it will not be possible to complete all of the projects in the list. There are a number of options for trying to address this challenge:

  • Ask for additional budget to cover all of the demand.  This is the best option.  However, in most cases the additional budget will not be granted.
  • Review the prioritised list and remove projects from the bottom of the list until the budget demand of the list is equal or less than the available budget.  The removal of the projects must be agreed with all stakeholders.
  • Review the estimates and contingency in each of the projects to see if savings can be made.  A word of warning, most projects tend to take longer and cost more than anticipated so this is a high risk strategy.
  • Review projects for opportunities to capitalise expenditure.  While this may provide some savings in current year, it only serves to store up expenses in future years.  You also have to be confident that the project will be delivered in the time period to meet any rules your organisation may have on claiming capitalisation.

Out of these options, reprioritising and reducing the list usually gives the best outcome.

2. Prepare business cases

In order for a project to be initiated, it is normal for an organisation to have a formal method to approve a project and provide budget.  So to minimise any delays, make plans for the preparation of the required business cases. As part of the planning and completion of the business cases, make sure that you:

  • Ensure you understand the process and have the correct templates.  It is typical for an organisation to change the process on an annual basis to learn from previous budget cycles.  Therefore, make sure you have the latest template and not just use one from a previous year.
  • Make sure you understand what is the governance process for gaining approval.  If there are governance forums investigate when they are held, when papers need to be submitted, what information is required, who will need to present and how quickly approval will be provided.
  • It is critical that you take the time to ensure that the business case is robust and presents a compelling investment case.  Do not simply treat it as a form filling exercise.  You want to make the business case easy for people to say yes.

3. Resource plan

As soon as you receive approval for a business case, you should be ready to mobilise.  So many projects lose valuable time by taking time to mobilise. Based on your prioritised list, make a plan of the resources you will need as soon as a project is approved.  This will typically not be the full set of resources, just those that will be needed on day one to allow progress to start. If possible try to identify potential candidates.  Ideally these will be people who already work for the organisation.  However, this may not always be the case.  Therefore, it is prudent to start building a list of possible resources external to the organisation.


Having an agreed project book of work is a great start.  However, the real success comes from making plans to quickly mobilise and execute the book of work.  Following the 3 steps above will help with achieving this objective:

  1. Resolving where demand exceeds budget
  2. Preparing business cases
  3. Initial resource plan

Mobilising & Executing Project Book of Work Presentation