10 Reasons Why Job Cost Accounting is Important for Engineering  

10 Reasons Why Job Cost Accounting is Important for Engineering  


10 Reasons Why Job Cost Accounting is Important for Engineering 

Many professional service industries work on a contract or project basis. Knowing how much each client or project brings to the equity of the firm is paramount.  Basic accounting will not provide the level of insight that you desire into the company’s financial health and profitability of the projects that you take on.  Engineering is one such industry where managing the profitability of your projects is key.  This makes job cost accounting crucial for engineering projects for several reasons: 

  1. Budget Management: Accurate job cost tracking helps in managing project budgets effectively. By monitoring costs in real-time, engineers and project managers can identify potential cost overruns early and take corrective actions to keep the project on budget.
  2. Resource Allocation: Knowing the specific costs associated with different tasks, materials, and labor allows for efficient allocation of resources. Engineers can make informed decisions about where to allocate resources to ensure tasks are completed within budget and on schedule.  Staffing shortages will create backlogs on projects, reducing the revenue you can actually bill for.
  3. Cost Control: Detailed job cost data allows for better cost control throughout the project’s lifecycle. If certain tasks or phases of the project are costing more than anticipated, adjustments can be made to mitigate these overages and bring the project back in line with the budget.  This is especially important for fixed price projects.
  4. Performance Evaluation: Job cost analysis provides insights into the performance of various aspects of the project. It allows engineers and project managers to compare actual costs against the estimated costs and assess whether the project is progressing as planned.
  5. Profitability Analysis: For engineering firms, understanding job costs is essential for evaluating project profitability. Accurate cost tracking enables firms to calculate their profit margins accurately, helping them make informed decisions about future project bids and resource allocations.  Historical profitability analysis provides insight into the clients you want to accept in the future.
  6. Decision Making: Detailed job cost data aids in making informed decisions throughout the project’s lifecycle. Engineers can identify areas where cost-saving measures can be applied without compromising the project’s quality or schedule.
  7. Risk Management: Job cost tracking helps identify potential cost-related risks early on. By recognizing cost trends that deviate from the plan, engineers can take proactive measures to mitigate risks and avoid larger problems down the line.
  8. Client Communication: Transparent and accurate job cost reporting enhances communication with clients. It allows clients to understand how their money is being used and provides reassurance that the project is being managed effectively.
  9. Benchmarking and Lessons Learned: By analyzing historical job cost data, engineering firms can identify patterns and trends that contribute to successful projects. This information can be used to refine future cost estimates, project planning, and resource allocation.
  10. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Some engineering projects may have legal and regulatory requirements related to cost reporting and tracking. Proper job cost documentation ensures compliance with these requirements.  Compliance with Federal Acquisition Regulations or similar for federal or state government contracts requires strict compliance.  

In summary, job cost tracking is essential for managing budgets, allocating resources, controlling costs, evaluating performance, making informed decisions, assessing profitability, managing risks, communicating with stakeholders, and complying with legal and regulatory standards in engineering projects. It provides the data needed to ensure projects are completed successfully, on time, and within budget.  

Are you a Professional Services Firm? Outsourcing your accounting can provide real-time job cost data and free up time for you to make better use of the information.  Virtual CFO provides GovCon-centric strategic accounting for small businesses providing services in technology, architecture, engineering, aerospace, and project management industries whether you have government contracts or not.  

We know your pain points – let us help you relieve them – schedule a consult. 

The Basics About Calculating Small GovCon Business Size

The Basics About Calculating Small GovCon Business Size

The Basics About Calculating Small GovCon Business Size

So you want to become a government contractor? Calculating the size of your small GovCon business is a crucial step in government contracting. The U.S. government has established size standards to define what qualifies as a small business, and these standards can vary based on the industry. The size of your business is important because it determines your eligibility for various government contracting opportunities and programs. 

Basics About Calculating the Size of Your Business and Why it Matters

Small Business Size Standards 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) sets size standards based on either the number of employees a business has or its average annual revenue. These standards vary by industry and are measured in terms of either the average number of employees over a period or the average annual revenue over a specific time frame.

Eligibility for Set-Aside Contracts

Many government contracts are “set aside” for small businesses, meaning that only businesses that meet the size criteria can bid on these contracts. These set-aside contracts give small businesses a better chance of winning contracts, as they won’t be competing directly with larger corporations.

Programs for Small Businesses

Small businesses can participate in various government programs designed to help them compete in the federal marketplace. For example, the 8(a) Business Development Program helps small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals gain access to government contracts.

Size Protests 

Accurately determining your business size is crucial to avoid size protests. If a competitor or other interested party believes that your business is inaccurately claiming small business status, they can file a size protest. If the protest is successful, it could lead to your company losing the contract or facing other consequences.

Affiliation Rules 

The SBA’s affiliation rules are designed to prevent companies from artificially inflating their size by combining resources with other companies. These rules consider factors like ownership, management, and control to determine if multiple companies should be treated as one when assessing size.


In some cases, you might need to recertify your business size during the contract performance period. This is especially true for long-term contracts, as your business’s size could change over time.

Accurate Reporting

Misrepresenting your business size intentionally or unintentionally can lead to legal issues and potentially disqualify you from future contracts. It’s crucial to provide accurate and transparent information about your business’s size.

In conclusion, understanding and accurately determining the size of your business is a critical step in government contracting. It not only impacts your eligibility for contracts and programs but also ensures fair competition within the federal marketplace. If you’re unsure about how to calculate your business size or which standards apply to your industry, it’s advisable to consult with experts in government contracting or the Small Business Administration for guidance.

Are you a Government Contractor? Virtual CFO provides GovCon-centric strategic accounting for small businesses providing services in technology, architecture, engineering, aerospace, and project management industries. 

We know your pain points – let us help you relieve them – schedule a consult.

How Improved Long-Term Planning Can Unlock Huge Opportunities for Small GovCons

How Improved Long-Term Planning Can Unlock Huge Opportunities for Small GovCons

How Improved Long-Term Planning Can Unlock Huge Opportunities for Small GovCons

Improving long-term planning is crucial for Small GovCons to capitalize on the opportunities offered by government contracts. By implementing effective long-term planning strategies, these firms can enhance their competitiveness and position themselves to succeed in the GovCon market. 

Steps That Can Help Overcome SMB Planning Challenges

1. Understand the GovCon Landscape: Gain a comprehensive understanding of the government contracting market, including the agencies, procurement processes, and upcoming opportunities. This will help identify potential projects and partnerships that align with the company’s capabilities and long-term goals.

2. Set Clear Long-Term Objectives: Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) long-term objectives. These objectives should align with the company’s mission and vision and provide a clear direction for growth and development.

3. Perform Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to identify trends, potential competitors, and upcoming government initiatives. Understanding the market dynamics will help identify gaps and opportunities for the small GovCon to leverage.

4. Develop a Long-Term Business Plan: Create a comprehensive long-term business plan that outlines the company’s strategy, market positioning, growth projections, and resource allocation. The plan should include risk assessments and mitigation strategies.

5. Diversify Revenue Streams: Overreliance on a single contract or customer can be risky. Small GovCons should strive to diversify their revenue streams by pursuing contracts with multiple government agencies or expanding into other markets.

6. Invest in Talent Development: Ensure that the company’s workforce possesses the skills and expertise required to meet the demands of long-term projects. Training and professional development initiatives can help attract and retain top talent.

7. Build Strong Relationships: Cultivate strong relationships with existing and potential government clients, industry partners, and other stakeholders. Networking and collaborative efforts can lead to new opportunities and contracts.

8. Stay Compliant: Adhere to all government regulations and compliance requirements. Failure to comply with these standards can lead to penalties and may jeopardize future contracts.

9. Continuous Performance Evaluation: Regularly assess the company’s performance against the long-term objectives outlined in the business plan. Analyze successes and failures, and use the insights to refine the strategies and make necessary adjustments.

10. Adapt to Changing Circumstances: The government contracting landscape is dynamic, and opportunities and challenges may arise unexpectedly. Small GovCons should be agile and adaptive in response to changing circumstances.

11. Seek Mentorship and Assistance: Engage with industry associations, seek mentorship from experienced GovCon professionals, and leverage government assistance programs designed to support small businesses in government contracting.

12. Focus on Innovation: Encourage innovation within the organization to stay ahead of the competition. Investing in research and development can lead to the creation of unique solutions that set the company apart.

By following these steps, small GovCons can enhance their long-term planning capabilities and position themselves to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by government contracts. Proactive and strategic planning can help these firms achieve sustainable growth and success in the GovCon market.

Are you a Government Contractor? Virtual CFO provides GovCon-centric strategic accounting for small businesses providing services in technology, architecture, engineering, aerospace, and project management industries. 

We know your pain points – let us help you relieve them – schedule a consult.

Financial Forecasting Techniques for Small GovCons: Ensuring Long Term Success

Financial Forecasting Techniques for Small GovCons: Ensuring Long Term Success

Financial Forecasting Techniques for Small GovCons: Ensuring Long Term Success

For small government contractors, financial forecasting plays a crucial role in decision-making, risk mitigation, and planning for sustainable growth. In this blog post, we will explore essential financial forecasting techniques that small GovCons can adopt to make informed decisions about their finances and drive long-term success. We will cover cash flow forecasting, budgeting, and financial modeling, helping these businesses avoid financial pitfalls and navigate the unique challenges of the government contracting space.

Financial Forecasting Techniques for Small GovCons

Cash Flow Forecasting

Cash flow forecasting is a vital technique for small GovCons to predict their incoming and outgoing cash over a specific period. Accurate cash flow forecasting enables better financial planning and helps businesses avoid cash shortages and late payments. Here are some key steps to create an effective cash flow forecast:

  • Historical Analysis: Begin by analyzing historical cash flow data to identify patterns and trends. Consider factors such as billing cycles, payment terms, and seasonal fluctuations.
  • Revenue Projections: Based on existing contracts and anticipated new business, project your revenue for the forecast period. Be conservative in your estimates to avoid overestimating cash inflows.
  • Expense Projections: Carefully estimate your fixed and variable expenses, including direct labor, materials, overhead, and administrative costs. Use historical data and consider inflation and potential cost fluctuations.
  • Government Payment Delays: Take into account potential delays in receiving payments from government contracts, which are common in the GovCon space. Understanding these delays will help you plan for any cash flow gaps.
  • Cash Reserve Management: Build a cash reserve to handle unforeseen events or contract delays. This reserve will act as a buffer during lean periods and prevent cash flow disruptions.


Budgeting is a fundamental financial planning technique that helps small GovCons allocate resources effectively and measure their performance against set financial goals. Here’s how to create a comprehensive budget:

  • Revenue Budget: Develop a revenue budget based on expected contract awards, projected sales, and revenue from existing contracts. Ensure it aligns with your cash flow forecast.
  • Expense Budget: Create a detailed expense budget that includes all operational costs, direct project expenses, and overhead. Regularly monitor actual expenses against the budget and adjust accordingly.
  • Project Budgets: For GovCons with multiple contracts or task orders, create individual project budgets. This allows you to assess each project’s profitability and make informed decisions about resource allocation.
  • Variance Analysis: Regularly analyze the variance between budgeted and actual performance. Identify the reasons for any significant deviations and take corrective actions promptly.

Financial Modeling

Financial modeling involves creating mathematical representations of a business’s financial performance. It enables small GovCons to evaluate various scenarios, make data-driven decisions, and plan for long-term growth. Here are some key aspects of financial modeling:

  • Sensitivity Analysis: Conduct sensitivity analysis by adjusting key variables such as revenue, expenses, and project timelines to understand their impact on financial outcomes. This helps you identify potential risks and opportunities.
  • Scenario Planning: Develop different financial scenarios based on best-case, worst-case, and most likely outcomes. By preparing for multiple scenarios, you can respond swiftly to changing market conditions.
  • Capital Investment Decisions: Use financial modeling to assess the feasibility of capital investments, such as purchasing equipment or expanding operations. This ensures wise allocation of resources and reduces the risk of financial strain.

In conclusion, small GovCons can leverage cash flow forecasting, budgeting, and financial modeling to make informed decisions and achieve long-term success. By understanding their cash flow patterns, creating comprehensive budgets, and employing financial models to analyze various scenarios, these businesses can navigate the complexities of the GovCon space and pave the way for sustainable growth. Regularly reviewing and updating these financial forecasts will help them adapt to changing market conditions and stay ahead of the competition in the government contracting space.

Are you a Government Contractor? Virtual CFO provides GovCon-centric strategic accounting for small businesses providing services in technology, architecture, engineering, aerospace, and project management industries. 

We know your pain points – let us help you relieve them – schedule a consult.

Cash Flow Analysis

Cash Flow Analysis

Cash Flow Analysis

The statement of cash flows is one of the four core financial statements for-profit businesses use. It shows how cash ‘flows’ in and out of a business during a specific period. Inflows show money coming into a business. Whereas outflows show money leaving a business. A business’ cash flows come from three different business activities: operating, investing, and financing.  As a business owner, you more than likely are familiar with this financial statement. However, do you know how to utilize this statement to analyze your business? Cash flow analysis provides essential information about a business.

What is Cash Flow Analysis

A cash flow analysis is the analysis of the cash inflows and outflows of a business. It is important when performing a cash flow analysis to examine every part of the business that affects cash flow. Due to this, preparing a statement of cash flows is imperative. A business uses the financial statement to perform the analysis. The cash flow analysis reveals how a business generates money, where it comes from, and how it affects the value of the business. Ultimately, cash flow analysis provides a multi-faceted picture of a business’ financial health.

Why Cash Flow Analysis is Important

Reviewing a business’ profitability on its income statement is important. However, in many aspects, cash flow is the best evaluation of a company’s performance and financial health. Performing a cash flow analysis helps a business to assess its profits and liquidity. It provides business owners with an understanding of where their money is going. Analyzing cash flow regularly reveals things such as whether a business can afford the costs of its daily operations. Overall, a cash flow analysis can reveal many things about a business, such as:

  • Business growth and retraction
  • Stability of the business
  • Source of where a business’ money is coming from.

How a Virtual CFO Can Help

A virtual CFO’s overall responsibility is to help ensure a business’ growth and financial health. This includes things like financial planning, tracking cash flow, and analyzing a business’ strengths and weaknesses. With their expertise and knowledge, a virtual CFO can not only perform a cash flow analysis but provide recommendations for improvements. For example, they can provide alerts to cash shortages and funding needs.

Cash flow analysis provides essential information and valuable insight into the financial health of a business. However, not everyone has the understanding necessary to perform this analysis. Our team specializes in cash flow analysis and is here to help!

Contributed by Elizabeth Partlow