Ever wish you could determine in exactly what part of a job slippage is occurring? Production coordinator Nick Forry, of Creative Contracting, North Wales, Pa., had just that in mind when he designed this Job Cost Summary, used in post-mortem meetings with his team to analyze the success or failure of a job.

By comparing actual to budgeted costs for each line item, the summary allows Forry to pinpoint exactly which areas of production are costing more than anticipated — as well as those that are costing less. And by using this form, along with another that tracks labor hours per line item, Forry is able to determine whether the problem is in the budgeting process or in the execution.

To collect this data, all labor hours are coded to correspond with a particular line item. That information is entered into Sage Master Builder software, which easily exports reports into Microsoft Excel. Forry says that tracking individual tasks helps keep the company’s carpenters accountable. “I think they’re a lot more conscientious and diligent in tracking their work and being conscious of the budget,” he says. “We also involve them in the budgeting process now [to improve our estimating system.]” At the end of a job, the numbers are dissected in a post-mortem meeting with other key staff members.

A. Off Target

Line items that are excessively over- or under-budget are highlighted in orange. In the post-mortem meeting, the team is able to determine whether the item was budgeted poorly, if something went wrong in the field, or if hours were miscoded.

"It's a way to clean up job costing and make sure everything is in the right place," Forry says.

B. Change Orders

This column is used to track the additional budgeted expense of any change orders during a job. "Lots of these are client-driven and unavoidable," says Nick Forry, production coordinator for Creative Contracting. "But we also see them as areas where we could have explored more opportunity before we went into construction."

All change orders are billed with the same markup that is built into the original contract.

C. The Bottom Line

This figure shows by how much the final job cost was over or under the allotted budget, including change orders. Gross profit is also included so it may be easily referenced in the post-mortem analysis.