Job Costing - Do You Know How?

What's your job profitability? I meet with business owners every day that are unsure of their profitability at a company or job level. They "think" they are making money because they have a few dollars in their checking account. Having money in your checking account doesn't mean you are profitable. It might mean you haven't paid all the bills yet, so you have a little cash. Cash and profit are two different concepts. If you aren't profitable, you won't have longevity in your business.

It doesn't matter the size of your business or the industry. Profitability is something you should be monitoring on a regular monthly basis. No business is too small or too large to do job costing. Such an excuse is your way of not holding yourself accountable to managing your business wisely. Failing to plan is a plan for failure.

So what do I mean by job costing? You should know how much you make and spend on each job. Expenditures should be tracked for those direct labor and material costs to each job. In addition, you should also be tracking overhead costs and allocating them to your various jobs as applicable. There is always going to be some overhead that is considered general overhead. Though often times too many dollars are thrown into general overhead, when they could easily be tracked to specific jobs. If you don't know your exact income and expenses for each job and your overall business, then how can you know you are making a profit?

QuickBooks® has easy-to-use features that allow you to do job costing for time and materials. So don't worry about having to track it all manually. Rely on tools to help you run your business more efficiently and effectively.

Are you curious how you are doing with job costing measurements? Here are some quick and easy questions to gauge your job costing performance:

1. Do I track each customer's revenue information through a detailed invoice?

2. Do I have a way of breaking down my direct job materials cost by customer?

3. Do I associate all time spent to each job accurately with actual dollar amounts?

4. Do I have access to reports to monitor profitability on each job in a timely manner?

5. Do I have a way to trend the fluctuations in job profitability from job to job, month to month, etc?

If you answered "NO" to any of these, then it's time for you to take an objective look at your financial goals. It's time for you to implement a job costing mechanism to help you answer "YES" to these questions. How can you track your profitability and long-term growth plans if you don't have detail at a job level?

Here are some quick and easy ways to utilize QuickBooks® effectively to help you with your job costing process:

1. Set up the QuickBooks® Item list so that you'll have both an expense and an income aspect to each of the items. This will allow you to track your costs and your income; therefore, providing you profit by item.

2. Record your sales through the invoicing or sales receipt process. This will record the income aspects of the items.

3. As you purchase the product or service items, make sure that you utilize the Items tab so that it will record to the cost to the appropriate item. In addition, make sure to assign your customer/job information to each line item so that you'll have the costs associated to the appropriate customer/job for job costing.

4. Utilize the time tracking mechanism in QuickBooks® so that you and your employees can track their time by item and customer/job. No dollar value is associated with this time until you actually pay the employees within QuickBooks®.

5. QuickBooks® has preformatted reports that you can access to have job costing information right at your fingertips. These are found under the Reporting menu and the Jobs/Time/Mileage option.

6. QuickBooks® has the ability to provide reports for any time period you select. This will allow you to have a variety of detail over the growth of your business and to produce trending reports. You can modify the report as needed to meet your needs.

One additional important aspect is that you have a good accounting professional on your team of resources. They will be able to help you understand what these reports are telling you in terms that you can use. Reports alone don't provide value if you don't understand them. So it is key that you understand the reporting information and how you can utilize that information to assist you in decision-making as you grow your business profitably.

It's all about how you set-up your accounting/bookkeeping software package and how you use it! What justification can you give for not knowing job costs within your business? None! Challenge yourself today to become more adept at running a financially savvy business through job costing.

Contact: Pam is the author of Out of the Red, a Certified Management Accountant, and a Certified QuickBooks® ProAdvisor. QuickBooks® is a registered trademark of Intuit. 816.304.4398. http://www.rppc.net

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