Budgeting an agile, collaborative project

So far, this phase of My Best Life has been funded by a generous grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

As this is a collaborative project, we expect a significant proportion of our budget for this project to go to partners delivering the work with us.

However, it is difficult to allocate funding to partners when the scope of the work is still being defined. At the same time – we don’t expect partners to work on this without adequate resources to do so!

So, we are breaking various parts of the project down into stages. We have started by developing a brief for the first stage of user involvement. This outlines what this phase will look like, and the various activities within it. Partners will take on parts of the brief, and suggest the resources required to do this. Partner budgets for this stage will be based on this.

This is opposed to setting a budget for the whole project, from the start. Whilst this gives partners more security, and a clearer idea of spend over time – it isn’t possible if you are designing the scope of the work and deciding on the levels of involvement of different partners as you go.

We hope this solution will allow partners to be involved and to plan for this stage – but without us having to set a budget for the whole project just yet. The downside, is that longer term budgeting and fundraising is harder to plan for. But it feels like the best solution for this agile project for now.

Have you had experience of budgeting for an agile, collaborative project? How did you manage the budget?