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Where Was The Budget on That Project?



Part 3 of using QuickBooks with companies that sell services

Estimates in QuickBooks do far more than just tell a customer how much a certain repair job will cost. They create project budgets.

Estimates are non-posting. You can create as many as you like and the accounting numbers are unaffected. They can also be edited and deleted/voided without concern for financial reports.

First, be sure the use of estimates is enabled in your QuickBooks company file.


In the screenshot, you can see the setting to activate estimates. A companion setting is progress invoicing. If your company sometimes invoices more than once for a single job or project, you will want to select both of these settings.

The estimate serves as a simple project budget. That’s why it’s so important to companies tracking costs and revenues by project.

The pieces of the project that need to be tracked are done by using service type items for each piece. Be sure each of those items is setup as a two-sided item, utilizing both a purchase and a sales side to the item.

We examined two-sided items a couple of posts ago.


Remember to use an income type of account for the Income Account field, and a COGS or expense type of account for the Expense Account field. For job expenses, a COGS type account is usually the best choice.


The example estimate in the above screenshot is from one of the QuickBooks sample files. The items are two-sided as discussed. Cost as well as revenue for each item are included in the appropriate columns.

Actual income (invoice) and expense (bills & checks) are recorded in QuickBooks using items and coding to this specific job. One result is a detailed report of the ongoing performance of the project.

The following report is found in the Jobs, Time, & Mileage section of the Reports menu.


The actual amounts for cost and revenue come from actual transactions recorded in QuickBooks. The estimated numbers all come from the Estimate form created.


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