When I left university, my first job was for a government agency (Ministry of Works and Development) where I was taught how to manage architectural contracts. My first boss (Maurice Langdon) told me how to use a fantastic chart for monitoring building construction costs. He showed me how to monitor the construction costs of each project. Each month I would chart the certified contract amounts on a standard “S” curve. This curve is suitable for many types of projects. When I was completing my research for this blog, most of the examples and documents that covered this curve were related to engineering contracts, but I always used this with buildings, and I believe it would work with many other project types (including landscaping and entertainment).
After being taught how to use this curve, I was able to keep a close eye on the construction costs. I could tell within a few whether the project was going to be delivered late, or whether the budget was going to be overspent.
The basic philosophy of this curve is the construction costs start off low, take a while to get up to full construction, and tail off at the end. At one third of the contract, one quarter of the budget should have been spent. At two thirds of the contract, three quarters of the budget should have been spent.