WIP Reporting Methods: Completed Contract vs. Percentage of Completion

Tracking Work in Progress (WIP) is crucial for maintaining financial transparency and ensuring project profitability. WIP reporting methods play a significant role in determining the revenue recognition and financial health of construction projects. However, choosing the right method can be challenging, especially when deciding between the two primary approaches: Completed Contract and Percentage of Completion.

Whether you are a general contractor, project manager, or accountant, understanding these methods will empower you to make informed decisions that align with your project needs and Davis-Bacon requirements.

Work in Progress (WIP) Reporting in Construction:

The Importance of Accurate WIP Reporting:

In the construction industry, where projects can span months or even years, keeping track of the financial status of each ongoing project is essential. Accurate WIP reporting provides stakeholders with a real-time snapshot of the revenue earned and costs incurred for each project at any given time. This helps project managers, contractors, and accountants to make informed financial decisions, allocate resources efficiently, and plan for future projects.

Regarding financial transparency and project profitability, WIP reporting is a crucial tool. It ensures that the actual revenue and costs align with the projected amounts, enabling stakeholders to spot discrepancies early on and take corrective actions.

Compliance with Davis-Bacon Requirements:

For construction projects that fall under the purview of the Davis-Bacon Act, adherence to specific labor standards is not just good practice; it’s a legal requirement. Davis-Bacon compliance involves meeting prevailing wage rates, certified payroll reporting, and accurate labor cost allocation.

WIP reporting plays a crucial role in ensuring Davis-Bacon compliance. By accurately tracking labor costs and wages, construction companies can demonstrate that they meet the required labor standards and avoid potential penalties and legal complications.

Completed Contract Method: Understanding the Basics

How it Works:

The Completed Contract method is a straightforward approach to WIP reporting. Under this method, revenue and expenses related to a project are only recognized upon its completion. Until then, all costs incurred during the project are deferred, and revenue recognition is delayed.

Benefits and Drawbacks:

The Completed Contract method offers simplicity and predictability. It allows for a clear separation of financial results between different projects, making it easier to track the profitability of each contract individually. This approach is especially useful for shorter projects with straightforward financial structures.

However, the drawback of this method lies in its delayed revenue recognition. As all revenue and expenses are recognized in a single period, it can create fluctuations in financial statements and may not accurately reflect the project’s financial performance during its lifecycle.

Percentage of Completion Method: A Comprehensive Overview

How it Works:

The Percentage of Completion method takes a more dynamic approach to WIP reporting. This method recognizes revenue and expenses based on the project’s progress toward completion. Revenue is recognized proportionally to the work completed, and expenses are matched with the corresponding revenue recognition.

Benefits and Drawbacks:

The Percentage of Completion method accurately represents a project’s financial status at any given time. By recognizing revenue and expenses in proportion to the project’s completion, stakeholders get real-time insights into the project’s financial performance.

This approach is particularly beneficial for long-term and complex projects where revenue recognition is tied to milestones or stages of completion. However, the method requires meticulous tracking and estimation of project completion, which can be challenging for projects with varying degrees of complexity.

Choosing the Right Method for Your Construction Projects

Project Complexity and Duration:

The choice between the Completed Contract and the Percentage of Completion methods should be based on the nature and duration of your construction projects. The Completed Contract method might be suitable for shorter and more straightforward projects, where fluctuations in financial statements may not be a significant concern. On the other hand, the Percentage of Completion method is a better fit for complex and long-term projects requiring real-time insights into financial performance.

Financial Reporting Objectives:

Consider your financial reporting objectives when selecting a WIP reporting method. If your business requires precise financial information for decision-making throughout the project’s duration, the Percentage of Completion method might be the better choice. However, the Completed Contract method might be more appropriate if you prefer simplicity and clarity in financial statements.

Davis-Bacon Compliance:

For projects subject to Davis-Bacon requirements, ensure that your chosen WIP reporting method aligns with the necessary labor standards and certified payroll reporting. Both methods can be used to meet Davis-Bacon compliance, but accurate labor cost allocation and certified payroll reporting are essential regardless of the chosen method.

Simplifying WIP Reporting with Foundation Software

WIP reporting in construction project management is critical; having the right software can streamline the process and ensure accuracy. Foundation Software offers comprehensive solutions that cater to the specific needs of construction accounting and project management.

With Foundation Software, you can:

  • Seamlessly switch between Completed Contract and Percentage of Completion methods, based on your project needs and preferences.
  • Simplify Davis-Bacon compliance with built-in certified payroll reporting features, ensuring accurate labor cost allocation and wage compliance.
  • Gain real-time insights into your projects’ financial health for proactive decision-making, enabling better resource allocation and profitability analysis.


Work in Progress (WIP) reporting methods are invaluable for financial transparency and project profitability. To simplify your WIP reporting and elevate your construction project management, explore the solutions offered by Foundation Software. Visit Foundation Software today to learn more and experience the benefits of efficient WIP reporting firsthand.

Empower your construction business with the right WIP reporting method and a trusted partner like Foundation Software. Ensure financial accuracy and project success with the tools designed to streamline your construction accounting and project management needs. With Foundation Software, you can confidently navigate WIP reporting and focus on what truly matters – delivering successful construction projects on time and within budget.

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