How to choose a job costing solution
Choosing the right job costing solution for your business may not sound like a particularly difficult task. In fact, it may not even sound necessary in the first place – not when you can rely on Excel or a basic project management tool to do more or less the same job.
However, once your business gets involved in more complex project-based work, the benefits of a dedicated job costing solution soon become apparent. Without the right tools at hand to track and monitor all of the variables that contribute to a project’s cost, it won’t be long before your margins are all over the place, your resources are put to the wrong use, and your overall profitability has taken a massive hit.
With that in mind, here are a few of the factors you ought to consider on your journey towards job costing success. (Or, if you’re still not sure you need a new job costing solution, see if you’ve come across any of the problems described in our previous blog: 5 common job costing nightmares.)
What data will be involved?
First of all, take a step back and think about the different variables that contribute to a project’s cost. Chances are, it’ll be more than just a basic count of materials and man-hours – it could also involve the cost of purchasing and holding stock, managing non-productive time, and reacting to unexpected changes between the job’s start and finish.
As such, your ideal job costing solution may need to draw from any number of data silos around your business, calling for either a high level of integration – often easier said than done – or the replacement of some of your existing solutions in areas like stock control and scheduling.
The need for speed
Consider how quickly and easily you need to capture job costing data in order to function profitably as a business.
If a large part of your day is spent working through a mountain of month-old timesheets that need rekeying by hand into your system one by one, it may be a sign that you need a more efficient – and, potentially, more accurate – process for data capture. A good example is the web timesheets functionality built into the Enprise Job solution for SAP Business One.
Remote access to job costing data
Finally, consider whether or not it’d be beneficial to provide remote access to job costing data for staff in the field. For some organisations, enabling users to view customer, site, stock control and scheduling information on-the-go could be instrumental in ensuring they complete jobs efficiently and profitably. Equally, providing remote access to timesheets could contribute to a massive improvement in service-to-invoice time.
This isn’t, of course, a comprehensive list of what to look out for when choosing a job costing solution. Depending on the needs of your business, you may also want to consider delivery model (on-premises versus hosted or SaaS, for example), the ability to set up recurring invoices, and powerful scheduling functionality. To find out more, we recommend you check out our free guide: What’s the best technological solution for job costing in engineering?