Budget Tables and Gantt Charts
Good project management is best described as a balance between 3 fundamental competing priorities: Cost, Schedule, and Technical. While teams focus their design reports heavily on the technical design and performance of their rover, managing cost and schedule should not be overlooked! This page provides guidance to teams on the proper use of budget tables and Gantt charts for design review milestones (the PDR and SAR), and the final Financial Report.
The Budget Table shows whether the team has realistically planned costs for this year’s project and that it has received sufficient funding, including a credible plan for raising remaining funds required, i.e., if the budget projects a bottom-line deficit, that is a problem. The budget must be presented as a table (not a graph, and not a pie chart). An example is shown further below. Different table layouts and formatting are possible, but it must include the following information:
Income Sources and Amounts — As of the reporting date, who has provided funding and how much? Itemization might include university organizations & corporate sponsors; fundraising activities; cash on hand.
Total Income Received to Date — Sum of amounts received.
Anticipated Income Sources and Amounts — If the project currently has a deficit, who or what activities will provide the remaining funds required & how much is anticipated?
Total Additional Income Anticipated — Sum of amounts anticipated
TOTAL INCOME — “Total Income Received to Date” plus “Total Additional Income Anticipated”
Expense Categories and Amounts — Project’s overall “spending budget” for this year. How will funds be used and how much is required? The expenses portion of your budget should be organized in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) format, similar to what is required for the Financial Report. This linked template is intended for the final Financial Report, but is an excellent tool for organizing and managing your budget throughout the year (and it makes it easier to prepare your Financial Report!). Important tips:
The WBS-format budget template linked above is an example only - your team should tailor the WBS to the needs of your team and project!
The budget tables provided for the PDR and SAR milestones should identify major expense categories required by your team during the year that may not be required for the final Financial Report. This may include the cost of prototypes, excess materials, outreach events, and potential travel to the URC Finals.
The budget tables provided for the PDR and SAR milestones should include an appropriate level of detail to convince judges that a proper budget plan exists (ideally to the second level of the WBS).
TOTAL EXPENSES — Sum of expense amounts
FORECAST FUNDING SURPLUS (DEFICIT) — “Total Income” minus “Total Expenses”
Final Financial Report
The final Financial Report submitted later in the year should only cover the rover value as specified in the rules.
The value of any sponsorship that is represented by a covered rover component must appear in the Financial Report. This includes identifying the value of a donated part, as well as the value of any services rendered on a part. For example, if a local machine shop provides free machining services on a rover system, you must receive a quote for the full value of those services and include this in your rover's cost.
Please read the applicable sections of the rules and Q&A carefully, as they may change slightly each year!
Sample PDR Budget Table
A Gantt chart is a specific schedule format that helps to show task dependencies, and manage the resources (e.g. people!) that will accomplish each task. A Gantt chart shows whether the team has realistically planned the design, development, building, and testing of the rover. It is a spreadsheet-like table that indicates WHO (sub-teams and/or individuals) will be doing WHAT (relating to subsystems and activities), WHEN (dates).
There is no single correct way to organize the chart, but there are basic content and layout principles. The chart should contain the following data:
SUBSYSTEMS (e.g., Communication, Software & Autonomy, Rover Chassis/Arm, Navigation, Science) and the team’s non-technical ACTIVITIES (e.g., fundraising, outreach, travel)
TEAMS/INDIVIDUALS (e.g., indicate who is response for each phase/task)
PHASES that match your team's system development life cycle (e.g., Research, Design & Simulation, Fabrication & Installation, Testing, Refinement) and TASKS (e.g., “test the robotic arm”)
Tasks are usually steps to be performed on a subsystem within some phase of the system development life cycle.
Include subsystem testing, as well as when the complete team is conducting an integrated test of rover operations required during the URC competition, including remote communication, navigation, manipulation, and science tasks.
Include team training for operations, including system set-up and remote control of the rover.
Each task/phase’s start date and completion date is presented as a bar across the page (plus optionally as two columns: start date & end date).
DATES: The chart’s first row has actual dates from at least September through June of the competition cycle (e.g. September, 2022 through June, 2023; not the elapsed number of weeks).
A Gantt chart should be a single integrated chart. If you present a collection of individual Gantt charts (one for each sub-team), you are effectively communicating to judges that you have not thought about integration!
Typically the chart must be resized (shrunk) to fit on the page; you must verify that when the judges enlarge the page, the chart is fully readable without having to zoom past 200%.