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Job cost is a major requirement for companies across a few industry segments including construction, services, and manufacturing. It’s most commonly used for construction-related businesses such as contractors, landscapers, and architects but we have seen some job shops and other make to order manufacturers implementing QuickBooks Job Cost as an alternative to the very light manufacturing features available in QuickBooks Enterprise and we’ve also seen a few professional service firms using job cost to manage projects.

Job Cost is one of the stronger parts of QuickBooks if you know how to use it effectively. For example, QuickBooks reporting will provide subtotals automatically by Item or Account, Customer, Class, and/or Customer Type if you setup Items, Accounts, and Other Lists in an outline format and create the reports using these as headers for the specific report giving you some excellent perspective across jobs.

It’s vital that you work with a knowledgeable QuickBooks ProAdvisor or consultant with experience in your industry. For example, there are 11 different types of items in QuickBooks and each has special characteristics that can affect your job costs and financial reporting as outlined in a very informative article by Diane Gilson on BuildYourNumbers.com.

Job Cost has a lot of great features including comparisons of actual versus estimated job cost, profit and loss by job, job profitability, and job budgets. Job cost manages all aspects of the job including phases, billable and non-billable labor, purchases, overhead expenses, and mileage and other expenses. Sub jobs are a great way to manage change orders or additional work beyond the original project scope.

Job Cost isn’t available in every edition of QuickBooks and features do vary across edition and platform. For example, QuickBooks Online behaves different than traditional QuickBooks Desktop versions but a very creative article from Stacy Kildal on Accountex Network’s website outlines how you can accomplish some relatively basic job costing within the limited scope of features in QuickBooks Online. Simply brilliant! Recently Intuit has added project management capabilities to their Essentials Plus bundle for QuickBooks Online which extend the job management capabilities considerably in the online platform. An older but very insightful article by Nancy Smith on the QuickBooksUsers.com website outlines the steps and tips for implementing QuickBooks for Contractors. We know that these have changed since the article was written a few years ago but it’s definitely worth reviewing even with today’s versions of the software. We found another helpful article by Penny Lane on JobCosting.com’s site which provides some excellent advice for utilizing Classes to get additional reporting and analysis for Job Costs by department, location, property, project, event, or other criteria.

Larger construction and job-driven organizations may be better served with QuickBooks Enterprise which not only provides a little more functionality but also the option to subscribe to a Service Management module which can be very helpful for scheduling.

We are not experts in QuickBooks by any means but we are asked for assistance from QuickBooks users and always point them toward a reputable QuickBooks ProAdvisor for assistance. Locally we really like Skoda Minotti and BetterBottomLine. In some cases they have simply outgrown QuickBooks and are ready to move to a midmarket accounting or ERP product that has more functionality and that is an area where we excel. We’ve helped many larger manufacturing and service-driven QuickBooks users to move to Sage or Epicor products and we recommend a few great midmarket products for construction where we may not have the best possible solution. Contact us today for more information if you are ready to evaluate your options further.


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