Job Costing Software is not one size fits all: identifying your unique industry needs

Guest blog in collaboration with Laurus Bookkeeping

Why you should identify your job costing needs

Every business is different, and so too are its job costing needs. By ignoring the factors that make your business unique in the search for easy “one-size-fits-all” solutions you could be missing out on huge benefits that other options could offer.

Identifying your needs can mean finding the right tech options and getting a better return on investment by finding tools that are right for you. Knowing your job costing needs can also save you time and stress by finding a working solution sooner (and not having to switch later), and lets you focus your training on the features that matter most. 

Interested in training? Read more on the Laurus Bookkeeping blog

What factors have the biggest influence on what job costing tools you need?

There are lots of factors that make your business and its needs different. Size, location, history and industry have huge impacts on how you operate. 

There are five additional factors that we’ve identified that have a big impact on your job costing needs: 

  • Is billable time the biggest source of revenue for your business? 
  • Do you work on ad hoc projects or have consistent work? 
  • How important is your long-term relationship with clients?
  • Do you produce stock for your shelves without an end client in mind? 
  • Do you work on bespoke or complex products?

Depending on your answers, the right features and tools will change for you. It’s important to take the time before and during your search for the right solution to make sure the software’s priorities and yours align well. 

Most software on the market is great at what it does but might not actually be what you need. To help you start compiling your list, we’ve pulled together some of the top factors that are often forgotten and why they might be critical for your business. 

Pro tip: Think about outcomes, not features! When you’re looking for a good fit, you might find options that don’t do what you think they should but can help you reach your goals in another way. Getting the most out of new software requires adapting your process to work with it, not trying to make it work in ways it doesn’t

Is billable time the biggest source of revenue for your business? 

When labour is one of your biggest expenses, it’s more important to have robust time tracking software. 

Finding tools that help your team track how long they have spent on particular tasks and projects is paramount, but you need a solution that doesn’t take up too much of that valuable time. Whether you work on a fixed fee or an hourly rate, tracking the time actually used will help you to stay profitable and get paid for work done.  If you’re not tracking your time, you can’t measure it, and if you’re not measuring it then you can’t improve it. 

It’s particularly important when you run professional services that rely heavily on staff time. If a significant part of your revenue is generated through billable hours, then time tracking linked to projects will help you manage your costs and profitability better. 

Do you work on ad hoc projects or need to watch your billable time? 

Understanding what work you have in the pipeline can help you roster your team and set realistic expectations with customers. Investing in tools that help you visualise the deadlines and predicted time that your current projects will consume can help you better use your time and limit unwanted downtime. 

When the work you do is more ad hoc, keeping up with the schedule of your team and what’s due in the coming weeks can be a huge help. 

How many projects do you have that are due next week? Do you need to increase or decrease the casual hours for next week to match your predicted workload? 

Having tools that help you accurately see and understand your workload with real-time data can help you set good expectations and save money. 

How important is your long-term relationship with clients?

Particularly in consulting businesses, the relationship and trust you build with your clients is paramount. When team members leave or accounts switch hands, a smooth handoff is critical for maintaining this relationship. A robust CRM that allows you to easily store, find and use information about your clients will help make handovers easier and give your clients a more personal experience. 

If your business is more transaction-based, or you work on large, infrequent projects, CRM features will likely not need to be as advanced or as high a priority for your business. 

Do you work with physical stock? 

When you’re working primarily with raw materials, components and finished products, tracking what you have are essential to keeping your operations running smoothly. 

If you resonate with the above statement, your job costing software should ideally help you understand not only your real-time stock levels but also your costs and profit margins on the stock you sell. When you rely on stock to keep your doors open it’s not just about being able to track what you have, but also tracking what’s selling and what’s isn’t to help make informed decisions on how to grow your business.

You can even potentially save money by making better decisions around what to buy in bulk to save. 

5 inventory management techniques that just make sense

Do you produce stock for your shelves without an end client in mind? 

A lot of job costing solutions only focus on work done for external clients, which isn’t always helpful if you make your own stock to sell at a later date (without a client immediately in mind). But, there are a few jobs costing features that can really improve this process. 

One key thing to look into is your internal production costs. What’s your cost per unit for production when you include your parts and labour? 

The right job costing tools for manufacturers and similar businesses will be able to provide answers to this through better processes and reporting tools. 

Tracking individual components sourced externally, as well as tracking the finished product with its own SKU is also important for quality assurance and cost tracking. Many off-the-shelf solutions that aren’t designed for manufacturers won’t include these features. 

Learn more about production jobs in WorkGuru 

Do you work on bespoke or complex products?

If you build bespoke or kit products, then your quotes & projects can involve 100s of components. 

Having tools that let you easily template common jobs and modify these templates for variations is crucial to help you save hours of admin. Limit the times your team umm and err about project costs. 

Having a system that saves your stock costs and sells prices can be a huge help in keeping your business profitable and making money from the projects you work on. 

What else to bear in mind?

The way you work has a critical impact on the job costing features you need. It’s crucial to think about your business needs and goals before you start looking to make sure you find solutions actually built for your business needs. 

Once you’ve found the right solution, having a smooth implementation can help you get the most from your investment right away. Learn how to customise your training with the second half of this blog, co-written by Laurus Bookkeeping: 4 Ways to customise your software implementation for better results

More about Laurus Bookkeeping

Founded on the belief that bookkeeping shouldn’t be something that holds you back.

Laurus Bookkeeping is focused on being the pinnacle of growth for small businesses and bookkeepers worldwide. 

Wanting to share her passion with the world, Cassandra Scott also wanted to put a stop to the dread of bookkeeping. Put a stop to the incorrect and incomplete financial records. Put an end to the lost opportunity costs. And put a start to helping businesses see bookkeeping as an area for business growth, wealth, and success. 

Implementing cloud-based systems and services that utilize the latest technology, Laurus aims to be the bridge between you and your success – whether as a business owner or a fellow bookkeeper. 

Since its conception, Laurus has helped over 500 bookkeepers and businesses realise their potential.