In construction there is little respect for processing paperwork. Contractors want to build projects, not deal with how paper is managed. But to gain a true understanding of what it costs to build a project and implement cost accounting, the contractor has to process documents in a meaningful way.
The Value of Cost Accounting
The positive attributes of cost accounting are described and explored in various articles and case studies.
This is the second article in a series of articles walking the small business contractor step by step in implementing cost accounting in construction. This article focuses on designing and developing a document flow system for use in cost accounting. The next step after creating a document flow system is learning how to sort and process the documents that come into the office.
Taking a small construction company to the next level of financial success requires implementation of cost accounting. This article is one in a series designed to illustrate how you implement cost accounting in a small construction business. The first step in this process is design a file structure.
The completed contract method of accounting recognizes revenue and the associated costs once the project is complete. This is one of the two popular accounting methods used in the construction industry. For residential contractors, the completed contract method may have a slight tax advantage by deferring revenue recognition but is generally not considered the best method of accounting in the construction industry.
There are two primary methods of reducing costs of construction. The first is cost negotiation and the second is cost shifting. These two methods have several tools in each to achieve overall price reduction. The following describes each method and the respective tools within each method that you can use to achieve overall cost reduction.
As a construction company owner, you need a profit and loss statement that conveys information in a format that will identify how much you are truly making as a profit. The best format is a construction profit and loss statement identifying contract revenues, direct costs, indirect costs and the overhead expenses. This format most closely matches the estimating style of most small construction companies.
At the end of the day, it is about the profit you make with your company. This format will point out where the problem is located and where the best performance occurs. When I look at a P&L, I want to quickly identify issues and concerns and get them addressed. If you use this format along with the project accounting reports I illustrate in other articles, not only will you quickly discover any problems, but you can actually pin point the underlying issues and get them resolved. This will add thousands of dollars to your bottom line. So as you read this article, remember you are trying to improve that bottom line, this format is absolutely the best tool to achieve that goal.