Published April 24, 2024 . 4 mins read

How the CPA Uses the Jobs in Process and Closed Jobs Schedules

As a CPA in public practice, the jobs in process and closed job schedules (“job schedules”) are the most important schedules we use to perform audits, reviews, and general business consulting. Why? Because each individual project is its own profit center, that affects the contractor’s balance sheet and income statement. In addition, the jobs in process schedule is the mechanism used to calculate revenue. Because the percentage of completion revenue is driven by an estimated cost at completion number, there is an inherent risk that revenue could be misstated.

The following are the steps I undertake to analyze the job schedules and gather information that allows me to be comfortable that they are materially accurate.

Bob Biehl, CPA, CCIFP
GBQ Partners

Balance Sheet in ProNovos

Step 1

After receiving the job schedules, I first determine if the current period total contract revenue earned and cost of revenue earned on the job schedules agree with the same lines on the company’s income statement.

  • Does the schedule reconcile?
  • If not, why?
  • Are there costs hitting the income statement that are not being charged to projects? Most of the time, the schedules don’t reconcile because indirect costs are not allocated to individual projects.
  • Does the total over and under billings on the jobs in process schedule agree with the balance sheet?

Starting my analysis with job schedules that reconcile to the balance sheet and income statement gives me comfort that I have a complete list of contracts, contract amounts, contract billings to date, and contract costs to date. The variable is the estimated cost to complete for each project. By performing steps 2-4 below, I am attempting to understand the company’s project performance and, ultimately, the accuracy of the revenue recognized.

Step 2

I identify contracts that are significant to the contractor’s operations by conducting a contract risk assessment. I look at risk factors such as type of contract, size of the contract, type of work performed, project percentage of completion, geographic location, large over or underbillings, and other factors that I consider relevant for each contract. Once I identify contracts that I deem are significant, I move on to step 3.

Step 3

This step is about analyzing and getting answers to questions. Some of the questions asked in step 3 are:

  • How is the project’s estimated cost at completion determined?
  • Why is Project X so under/overbilled?
  • Why is Project Y’s gross profit % so much different than the company’s historical gross profit?
  • Why is Project W showing a loss? Has the contractor properly accounted for the entire loss as required by generally accepted accounting principles?
  • Why is Project Q’s contract value so much larger than other projects that the Company normally performs?
  • Why is the overall total gross profit percentage on the jobs in process schedule so different from the company’s historical gross profit percentage?
  • Why is the company performing below or above expectations in a certain industry segment?
  • Why is project manager Z performing above or below expectations on his projects?

Step 4

Perform a gain fade analysis on significant projects open as of the prior period end. At this step, I am looking to determine how the project finished versus what the company showed on the prior year’s jobs in process schedule. I am looking for the following:

  • Did the project perform as expected?
  • Was there a large gain/fade on the project?
  • If there was a large gain/fade on the project, what caused it?
  • Does the contractor have a history of providing me with accurate project estimates?
  • Do I need to include a change in the estimate footnote in the audited or reviewed financial statements because of a large project gain or fade?

While I look at these four steps when reviewing job schedules, controllers and CFOs should also perform them regularly. By doing so, the Company will be better prepared to discuss its surety and bank.

The job schedules are not just prepared because the CPA, surety, or bank asks for them at year-end. They should be prepared monthly as a tool used by management to analyze performance and ultimately make good business decisions.

Be sure to catch Bob at CFMA’s Annual Conference on Wednesday, May 22, at 8 am, when he presents “Real-World Construction Financial Insights” alongside Bruce Orr, CEO, ProNovos; Margie Morris, CCIFP, Partner, Guignard Company; and Gerardo Perez, Senior Vice President Relationship Manager, First Bank.

In this interactive session, you’ll experience construction financial data insights from various perspectives. In the first half of this session, a panel of industry experts consisting of a data scientist, banker, CPA, and surety professional will use a real-world scenario to show you how they assess the WIP to make strategic decisions, identify areas of concern, and evaluate the health of construction companies. They will share strategies and tips. Then, it’s your turn to review a real-world scenario with your peers to review the data to identify issues and develop a solution.

Learning Objectives:

Interpreting Data Trends: Participants will learn to identify and interpret key data trends within construction financial datasets, enabling them to recognize potential financial challenges and opportunities within their organizations proactively.

Cross-Industry Insights: Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of how financial data is analyzed and leveraged across various sectors, such as data science, banking, accounting, and surety, to broaden their perspective on financial management strategies.

Through hands-on activities, participants will develop practical problem-solving skills by applying data analysis techniques to real-world construction financial scenarios. This will empower them to make data-driven decisions in their roles and address complex financial challenges effectively.