Case Studies


The Ultimate 2023 Project Accounting Guide for Agencies


Marcel Petitpas

Marcel Petitpas

Apply for a Call w/ Parakeeto

Last updated Nov 7, 2023


The Ultimate 2023 Project Accounting Guide for Agencies

Last updated Nov 7, 2023 | 0 comments

Marcel Petitpas


The Ultimate 2023 Project Accounting Guide for Agencies

Many organizations face difficulties when it comes to assessing project-level profitability. Whether dealing with project overruns, budget discrepancies, or striving for accurate project scoping, the challenge of understanding which projects or clients yield optimal results and identifying improvement opportunities is ever-present. Fortunately, Project Accounting offers a solution, albeit with its own complexities. Mastering the correct implementation, measuring project profitability, incorporating overhead variables, and factoring in staffing costs are key steps. In this post, we’re going to detail the best practices of how to implement traditional project accounting in your firm, but also share more modern approaches to measuring and assessing project and client performance. Not only are these modern approaches more cost-effective and efficient, they also allow for even better measurement than traditional project accounting can. So make sure you read until the end for those insights. 

What is Project Accounting?

Project Accounting is the practice of reviewing past project performance to evaluate the upside the agency gained from taking on the project relative to the costs incurred (around staffing, materials, etc.) to actually deliver the project. A calculation like this can be used to compare outcomes to estimates, to inform your forecasting system for future projects. Project Accounting is typically done retroactively, once a project is completed and all the revenue and costs can be reconciled, however, in some cases it can also be done mid-project, to help you prioritize at-risk projects or evaluate in-progress performance.

Why Is Project Accounting Important?

Project Accounting exists for one reason – to help you monitor and evaluate project performance.

It’s important for agency leaders like yourself to understand how your completed projects performed in order to inform decisions about future projects, and also understand which projects you’re currently working on that you’re going to need to prioritize before they start going off the rails. All of these are benefits of project accounting.

These results will inform decisions on your agency’s overall performance, staffing, pricing, and more.

When to Use Project Accounting?

Project Accounting is usually post-project to evaluate performance retrospectively, in some cases it can be done mid-project, although with traditional project accounting this can be quite challenging to accomplish. One who practices Project Accounting may evaluate project performance in progress to help identify areas of strength and weakness, and after the project to evaluate scoping accuracy and profitability.

When you’re starting out as a smaller agency, we’d generally recommend avoiding traditional project accounting and opting for the simpler and easier approaches that we’ll go over later in this post.

Your use of project accounting can also be informed by your current pricing model, where those billing on time & materials may consider implementing project accounting given that your revenue and expense recognition is primarily retroactive, whereas those on other models like flat fees or value-based will likely get more value with less effort from a more modern approach.

Project Accounting Principles

Let’s take a look at three of the main project accounting principles:

Project Costs and Time Management

The first and most important core principle of project accounting is to track your projects costs and timeline during a project, and to evaluate your project profitability after the fact. This will give your project managers/project management team insight they to make a call on the fly.

Project Specific Tracking

Secondly, project accounting helps you dive deeper into your data, getting project-specific data rather than at the agency-wide level. By practicing this effectively, you’ll be able to compare clients, products and teams with each other.

Effective Decision Making

It all ties together to help you make better decisions. Project accounting will enable you to make decisions on resource management in the most efficient ways and make changes as time goes on and you evaluate the profitability of a set of projects, clients, services or another subset group.

Project Accounting Software

If you plan on practicing traditional project accounting, there are plenty of tools out there that could make your life easier. We’re breaking project accounting software up into three areas:

Accounting Software

Typically, the best project accounting software that you already have is simply your accounting tool. It’s the best place for you to be able to accrue your revenue & expenses, track costs, and so on. The tools we see most frequently in agencies are QuickBooks Online, Xero and Sage.

The challenge with doing project accounting inside accounting software tends to be bringing together all the necessary data, and reconciling it all to the right projects. However, with the introduction of some good standard practices and data schema design around invoicing, time tracking and vendor bill payments, this process can be reasonably streamlined.

PSA Software (Professional Services Automation)

Professional services automation tools like Productive.io, Scoro, Kantata and Function Point are all great examples of PSA Software that attempt to centralize all the data in the agency and streamline the project accounting process. They do this by trying to bring together many of the operational workflows around pipeline management, invoicing, resource planning, project management, time tracking, etc. For agencies that are comfortable centralizing all these functions into a single tool and able to maintain militant compliance on their data schemas and bill primarily on time and materials, these tools can offer a lot of efficiency to the project accounting workflow. Other tools like Metric.ai are also similar to this category, but can act as more of an FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) platform and can also bring data in from other sources. It’s a well suited option for firms who want to streamline the financial measurement of the agency while wrangling data from multiple tools.

The underlying challenge with all-in-one tools tends to be data hygiene and centralization of operation functions. Since most of the information flows directly into reports, that means that errors and inconsistency in the data being inputted by your project managers and the broader team can also find their way into reports. It’s important that firms using these all-in-one tools to have very tight compliance around data inputs and have a process for reviewing the data for quality assurance before running reporting cadences. The other risk with all-in-one tools is the scope they cover. If your firm outgrows the project management functionality in one of these tools, for example, using an external platform will often undermine the entire benefit of the all in one tool, or create the need to uproot the entire operations tool stack as you transition to another all-in one platform. It’s important to keep these considerations in mind and be very diligent about selecting a platform that will be well suited for your firm for the long-term and be very deliberate about the implementation and maintenance of that platform.

External Reporting Tools

Some agencies choose to do their own reporting not by buying a specific project accounting software, but simply by pulling data from their financial or project management software, and bringing it together in a solution like Google Sheets, Fathom, or Reach Reporting. This methodology tends to be our favorite option, although it’s probably the most complex, especially for those without data engineering or data science talent at their disposal.

What we like about this approach is that it allows for data management best practices to be applied via an ETL Framework (Extract, Transform, Load).

Not only does this provide the most flexibility, it also allows firms to avoid conflicting data requirements inside accounting or all-in-one platforms, and have more freedom to dial in their reporting and operations stack over time. It also has the added benefit of allowing for more deliberate controls around data quality assurance, transformation, normalization, stitching, custom calculations, etc.

There are plenty of other great reporting tools out there, the level of sophistication your firm is able to achieve will largely depend on the data engineering or data science resources you have at your disposal to implement more advanced infrastructure. Depending on your level of comfortability there, dedicated project accounting software for your project managers might not even be needed.

Some of the simple tools listed above will offer a rudimentary starting point that generally doesn’t require much technical investment. However, the downside of this approach is that it can be cumbersome and expensive to set up, and may require engineering or data science resources to maintain over time if more advanced infrastructure is being implemented. For most smaller firms that don’t have this staff on hand already, it can be cost-prohibitive to implement and maintain over time.

How To Do Project Based Accounting

Start off by creating a project budget. Include the estimated project costs and resource allocations. If you’re having trouble coming up with your estimates, this resource may help.

Next, develop a process by which you can track any income and project costs that come and go as the project progresses. Mark them in such a way that they can be reconciled against this particular project in the accounting workflow. If you’re wondering about overhead expenses, keep reading – we’ll talk about those soon. 

Then, ensure your team is tracking all of their time that it takes them to complete the project so that you can allocate labor costs to the total project costs as well.

During the next reconciliation period following the end of the project, after all vendor invoices have been collected, your accounting team will tally up all the income and expenses. They’ll then need to allocate the cost of the time it took your team to complete the work in order to render a project profitability report.

Finally, review the report and come to conclusions on performance, estimate vs actual, and such. Take the results and action any changes that need to be made in the pricing, estimation, process or team structure, and continue the project-based accounting cycle.

Project Accounting Key Benefits

There are a few benefits of implementing a project accounting system that stand above all.

Understanding how your project performed will be the main benefit and driver for implementing a project accounting practice. Project accounting focuses on getting you the information you’ll need to make more deliberate process investment decisions from the information you’ve gathered, leading to more efficient delivery.

By gaining these kinds of insights, you’ll also get consistent feedback on how close your estimates are lining up to your actuals, leading to more reliable estimates which will have a trickle-down effect to your team’s sanity, project pricing, and overall profitability. Your project managers will thank you!

Finally, this information will allow you to notice trends in project profitability leading to a deeper understanding of which projects, service lines, client or other subset of any of the above is driving more or less profit. This will spark questions about why that may be, and eventually lead you to do more of what you’re doing best. When done correctly, you can use project accounting to skyrocket your project profitability.

Common Project Accounting Challenges

Challenge 1 – Complexity & Timeliness 

Project Accounting is a complex process. It is pushing information from multiple sources into your financial tool at a very granular level, leading to very precise inputs (but you don’t necessarily need precision to be accurate). It’s being run by the finance team, who typically doesn’t reconcile more frequently than monthly (and if they do, you’re probably paying a lot to make that happen). In the event that you can pay for more frequent reconciliation, the whole process can still be held up by vendors waiting weeks or months to invoice you, or by long collection times on client invoices. In other words, it’s slow and expensive.

Challenge 2 – Overhead Cost Allocation

Many agencies practicing project based accounting mistakenly attempt to measure project performance based on some concept of “Net Profit” or “Net Margin”, to include overhead in the profitability calculation. While this might seem logical on the surface, a little bit of double clicking on this idea quickly exposes the many ways in which it’s a fundamentally flawed approach. This is one of the most common “precision traps” we see agencies fall into, where they mistakenly pursue a more precise measurement that actually ends up being less accurate than the simpler, more cost-effective alternative.

Not only does attempting to measure “Net Profit or Margin” on a per-project basis dramatically increase the cost and complexity of your project based accounting workflow, it also significantly decreases the accuracy and usefulness of the insight, especially in the case where it comes at the cost of measuring Delivery Profit or Margin (you might think of this as Gross Profit or Margin)

The reason this is fundamentally problematic is because most models that attempt to measure “Net Profit” include inputs that aren’t directly related to the performance of a particular project. Things like Overhead expenses and Shared Delivery Expenses, which fluctuate completely independently from a project’s life cycle, can have a significant influence on the perceived performance of a project, despite having nothing to do with it.

For example, a project that takes place during a time period where there were fewer projects happening at a given time may appear to have a lower profit margin, simply because there were fewer projects to spread overhead allocations across at that time.

Absent an insight on Delivery Margin, this could easily create a false negative perception that the project somehow performed poorly relative to other projects like it, when it was in fact just as healthy.

Instead, a more accurate and cost-effective method is to focus on Delivery Margin. This metric strips away unrelated variables and simplifies the calculation process. It’s your (Agency Gross Income on a project, minus your Delivery Costs) Divided by Agency Gross Income.

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you ignore overhead in your assessment of projects, but simply that you factor overhead costs into the Delivery Margin target, as opposed to trying to track it precisely on every project. More on this project accounting workaround including definitions, formulas and benchmarks later.

Challenge 3 – Labor Cost Allocation

What’s the correct way to attribute the cost of your team’s time to a project? Often we see agencies trying to be too precise with their allocations, making a few common mistakes. The first is doing allocations based on Payroll as opposed to more static cost-per-hour calculations. This is another very common “precision trap”. Often they’ll even go as far as to adjust someone’s cost based on their utilization rate. This can create the same problem we saw with overhead allocations, wherein factors that are independent of the project start to influence the cost-basis, and thereby the profitability. If there are fewer projects to allocate payroll across, this will falsely inflate the cost of the time put towards that project. 

The way to do this correctly is to allocate labor costs to projects and clients based on hours multiplied by more static Average Cost Per Hour values.

Similarly to overhead, we’re not suggesting you ignore the utilization factor, but again, that this be factored into Delivery Margin targets, as opposed to trying to measure this precisely on every project.

Challenge 4 – Revenue Recognition, Cost Recognition and Mid-Stream Project Measurement

As long as you’re trying to measure projects that are in progress, you’ll need to ensure that your project mnanagers are properly accruing revenue and expenses. If you’re only looking retrospectively, this is less important but will still be an important factor in measuring the performance of projects over several months. The problem is that we see a lot of project managers or project accountants relying on the invoicing schedule to dictate how these revenues and expenses get accrued. The problem with this is that this rarely accurately aligns revenue and expenses to each other, or to when revenue is being earned on projects based on the percentage of work that is complete at any given moment in time.

In order to more accurately practice revenue recognition, there are four primary methods that can be used to align accruals to the earned value on a given project or client. Each method has tradeoffs and flaws, so it’s important to choose the methodology that will be most accurate given the billing model, lifecycle and project management process at your firm. Despite these challenges, these methods are  generally going to be significantly more accurate than the invoicing schedule):

  • Time vs Timeline

    • If we’re 5 weeks into a 10 week project, we’re 50% complete.

  • Time vs Budget

    • If we’ve used 500 out of 1000 total hours, we’re 50% complete.

  • Task Progression

    • We’ve completed 500 out of 1000 story points or “tasks” therefore 50% complete.

  • Subjective Input

    • A project manager’s discretion of how close we are to completion.

While landing on the correct methodology for accruing revenue and expenses will help improve accuracy, it can also significantly increase the cost and complexity of the accounting workflow. For example, it’s very difficult to use anything other than the invoicing schedule to accrue revenue inside of Quickbooks Online, meaning that any of the above methods will require a significant number of journal entries to implement.

This is just one more reason why traditional project accounting is being phased out in favor of the more modern and efficient approaches we’re about to unpack in the next section of this post.

Alternatives to Project Accounting

The agency and consulting industry has changed a lot in the last few decades, yet the way we measure performance has stayed largely the same. Traditional project accounting remains the incumbent solution, despite all the shortcomings we’ve discussed in this post.

Especially for firms who are employing a multitude of pricing models, especially flat or value-based pricing models, and who are using a lot of whitelabeled or outsourced labor to help fulfill projects, project accounting can be one of the least effective methods to get the insight they’re looking for on projects.

For the vast majority of firms especially smaller firms without the resources to build in-house finance teams, a better starting point is to use operations data to answer important questions about the performance of different areas of the business, and help guide day to day decision making about how to manage projects towards success.

There are two primary alternative approaches to traditional project accounting we’d recommend trying before moving towards project accounting. In our experience, these can offer better insights than project accounting, with a fraction of the complexity and cost.

As an added bonus, they don’t require the use of accounting tools or data, and can empower your operations teams to get the insights they need without busying your finance or accounting team.

These operational insights are deliberately separated from finance workflows as a way to ensure that they are not constrained by the precision and timeline requirements that financial reports are beholden to. In creating this separation, we’re able to get timely and specific insights during the day to day, without having to add any complexity, cost or constraints to our financial reporting. In essence, we get to have our cake and eat it two.

These operational reporting processes leverage three simple data sets your team is likely creating and maintaining every day: 

  • People Data
  • Project Data
  • Time Data

To define the information required for the purpose of measuring project performance:

  • Which people are working on this project, and what are their cost rates? 
  • What projects or clients are we measuring, and what kind of agency gross income are we collecting for that work? 
  • How much time did it take to earn that revenue?

With these three sets of data, we can get extremely cost-effective, timely and discrete insight into how different projects and clients are performing, and even get an understanding of our Delivery Margins for those segments of work. Best of all, we can measure any area of the business for which we have these simple pieces of information. That means we can measure over any time horizon (a week, a month, a year) and any set of work (projects, clients, departments, services, products, etc.) 

This information is used to measure Average Billable Rate (ABR) and Estimated Delivery Margin along with the tried and tested Cost Performance Indexing method for forecasting project outcomes while they’re in progress.

While these are slightly less precise measurements, they are often just as if not more accurate than traditional project accounting reports. 

It’s worth noting that these three data sets can also be used to measure the three most important key performance indicators to profitability on your financial statements, as well as forecasting capacity vs planned work, and developing data-driven estimation models.

If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage operations data to measure the essentials of your firm, check out the training video on this included in the Agency Profitability Toolkit.

Average Billable Rate & Estimated Delivery Margin

The first and most powerful metric we can use to gain these insights is Average Billable Rate.

#1 – Average Billable Rate

Let’s start simple. Average Billable Rate (ABR) is the measure of the amount of revenue your firm earns for each hour your team spends on client work.. If your team took 10 hours to deliver a $1,000 project, they would have earned an Average Billable Rate (ABR) of $100 per hour.

The best part about this metric is that it normalizes for all the factors that can make comparing projects difficult. No matter what the pricing model is (hourly, value-based, flat) no matter if it’s a project or a retainer, and regardless of how much pass-through expenses or markup are being factored in, ABR can help you compare all of your projects, clients, and services or any time period against each other apples to apples.

You can gain insight into ongoing or completed work by calculating the ABR of a project using this formula:

ABR = AGI / Delivery Hours

Where AGI is your Agency Gross Income (that’s all of your revenue minus any Pass-Through Expenses like white labeled work, print or ad spend, etc.) and Delivery Hours are all of the hours your team took to deliver the project.

The Delivery Hours metric is hours worked on the project regardless of how many hours were billed to the client. If you bill by the hour, it might be important to separate those two concepts from one another.

So if you had two projects and you wanted to compare their performance via ABR:

ProjectAGITotal Hrs LoggedABR (AGI/Delivery Hours)
$5k Website Design$5,00017$294
$10k Website Design + Dev$10,00040$250

While one project clearly brought in more AGI, what this ABR number is telling us is that the Website Design + Dev project was actually delivered less efficiently, bringing in only $250/hr of work relative to an efficiently delivered Website Design project that was close to $300/hr.

The same calculation could be done by comparing two clients who went through the same product roadmap, to determine which clients may be easier to work with than others:

ProjectAGITotal Hrs LoggedABR
A1 Burgers Website, Dev & Maintenance$35,000315$111
Turbo Burgers Website, Dev & Maintenance$35,000255$137

The numbers are telling us at a high level that the Turbo Burgers roadmap was delivered more efficiently. Since this is a broad metric that is very easy to calculate, our output isn’t going to tell us exactly what the problem was with the A1 burgers project – but at least it may act as a trigger for conversations to be opened up about why it was delivered less efficiently and how to change that down the road.

Is A1 Burgers a better client to work with? Which team members worked on each project? Might one project have gotten out of scope a bit? Etc.

Now, what if we wanted to get a bit more sophisticated with our reporting?

#2 – Estimated Delivery Margin

We can start adding some more complexity to this reporting by trying to figure out your Delivery Margin on projects. Delivery Margin is the ratio of upside that your agency keeps after paying for its Delivery Costs on a given project or subset of projects. 

Once we have our ABR figure, we can add on an ACPH figure to estimate your costs, and see if the Delivery Margin that you’re modeling for a given project is where it needs to be to be sustainable/profitable.

ACPH is your Average Cost Per Hour. It’s the cost that you incur for each hour of a team member (or set of team members) time. We won’t go deep on how to calculate this in this post, but you can use this calculator to figure out this metric for your agency as a whole or for a team member in particular.

Estimated Delivery Margin = (ABR – ACPH) / ABR

Walking you through this – so if your ABR on a project is $150 and you know your team has an ACPH of $75/hr, you’re looking at a 50% Delivery Margin. Is that good? On a per project basis (which is the point of this post) you’d want to target anywhere from 60-70% Delivery Margin to be in a healthy spot.

By targeting a 70% delivery margin, we leave enough room for a drop-off of 10-20% from the project and client level to the profit and loss statement. That drop off accounts for utilization and time off. It also allows us to account for 20-30% of AGI being spent on overhead salaries and expenses, which ultimately sets us up for a net margin of anywhere from 20-40%

Estimated Delivery Margin is a way for you to ensure you’re baking in profitability to your projects. With a few quick calculations, you’ll be able to calculate your profitability on a project in a way that is directionally accurate, without having to set up an entire process to practice project accounting and work through the finance department.

Let’s go through an example together: 

Walkthrough Example – Estimated Delivery Margin

Consider you’ve just completed a project that looks like this:

Project NameAGIDelivery Hours SpentACPH
Project A$10,00050$75/hr

Let’s first find our ABR. ABR is AGI/Delivery Hours.

ABR = AGI / Delivery Hours

10,000 / 50 = $200

ABR = $200/hr

With our ABR number, we can then calculate our Estimated Delivery Margin:

Estimated Delivery Margin = (ABR – ACPH) / ABR

200 – 75 / 200

Estimated Delivery Margin = 62.5%

Knowing that on a per project basis, we’ll want to hit a 60% Delivery Margin minimum, this project was reasonably healthy.

Note: If you’re doing the math on some of your own projects and are realizing you need to improve your Delivery Margin, you’ll want to reference this post.

Cost Performance Indexing (CPI)

If you want to get more advanced and start getting proactive about project progress before completion, CPI can be another very cost-effective way to get those insights and focus your team on the right things at the right time.

CPI helps you measure in-progress projects using a simple formula:

CPI = Earned Value (EV) / Actual Cost (AC)

This formula can help you predict whether a project will end up being over budget, under budget or on track. If the CPI is higher than 1, it shows that the project is doing even better than planned and is using less money than expected. In simple terms, the project is getting more bang for its buck. When the CPI is 1, the project is right on track with its budget. But if the CPI is less than 1, it means the project is going over budget and not staying within the expected costs. This means the project is spending more money than planned for the results it’s achieving.

We can then divide our starting budgets by the CPI to predict how much time it is likely to take us to complete a project, and apply the same formulas as above to estimate our ABR & Estimated Delivery Margins. 


Consider a scenario where you’re trying to figure out if your website design project is on track. Let’s say it’s a $15,000 design, scoped at 100 hours to deliver.

Earned Value

Our first step will be to figure out how far along we are in the project – in other words, how much value have we earned so far? Let’s assume that after a discussion with your project manager, they’ve told you this project is 50% complete, and that they’re basing this off of the milestones throughout the project that have been checked off the list.

EV = Budget % Complete, so 100 0.5

EV = 50 hours

By now, according to the milestones, you should have used only 50 hours.

Actual Cost

The second part of the equation is to evaluate how much your team has actually worked on the project. Usually, you’ll want to base this off of your time tracking tool. If implemented correctly, time tracking data will help you answer a ton of questions about project profitability, staffing, and more.

Here is what that hourly breakdown could look like for this project:

NameRoleHours Tracked
TinoJr. Designer20
RhondaSr. Designer25
SteveProject Manager15

Currently, your team has tracked 60 hours towards this project. Our actual cost so far in hourly terms is 60.

Then, we can do our calculation:


CPI = 50 / 60

CPI = 0.83

Our CPI is less than one. Remember, that means that the project is going over budget and not staying within the expected costs. Your team has spent more hours delivering than you had estimated from the start. A CPI calculation like this can open up the conversation with your team to figure out:

  • Why might this have happened?

  • Was there anything particularly challenging about this delivery?

  • Was this client a bit of a P.I.T.A?

  • Were our estimates off?

  • How does this compare to other projects at a similar completion rate?

And so on.

You’ll also be able to use CPI to calculate where to focus your resources, based on a list of projects in progress and which ones are at risk:

ProjectAGIEst Hours% CompleteProjected Hours Based on % CompleteActual HrsCPI
Project 1$10,0008050%40440.90
Project 2$7,0005040%20350.57
Project 3$20,00015060%90771.16

Forecasting Hours to Achieve Estimated ABR and Estimated Delivery Margin

Once you have your CPI, you’ll also be able to do some quick calculations to figure out how many hours you’ll need to complete the project, and from that, gain insight into your Estimated ABR and Delivery Margin metrics.

Take Project 1 above for example. If we had a starting budget of 80 hours, and divided that by our CPI of 0.90, we’re looking at a total of 89 hours to complete the project. What kind of impact will this have on our Estimated ABR & Delivery Margin?

Well, our AGI for this project was $10,000. Divided by our new Delivery Hours of 89, and we’re looking at an Estimated ABR of  $112. If we assumed a $50 ACPH, we can estimate our Delivery Margin on the project to be our (ABR – ACPH) / ABR

In this case – ($112 – $50) / $112 = 55%

In this case, 55%.

As you can see, with just a few simple pieces of information your team is likely already tracking, you can gain great insight into the performance of your projects both during, and after they take place and inform the same kind of decision making and insight with significantly less complexity and cost.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you install these operations reporting systems, we invite you to apply for a consultation with one of our agency profitability experts

Project Accounting FAQs

What is the Role of a Project Accountant?

A project accountant would be expected to execute on the project accounting process. Collect the project estimates, track the revenues and costs, allocate the labor costs, reconcile the results and present them to the team for evaluation and iteration. 

Your project accountant may also be your operations manager, your project managers or other members of your finance team.

Is Project Accounting the same as Cost Accounting?

Project accounting and cost accounting are both essential components of financial management within organizations, but they serve distinct purposes. Project accounting primarily focuses on tracking and managing financial activities related to specific projects or contracts. It involves monitoring the costs, revenues, and expenses associated with individual projects, providing a detailed view of their financial performance and helping in assessing project profitability. On the other hand, cost accounting is a broader practice that involves analyzing and controlling the costs incurred in the production of goods or services across an entire organization. It delves into various cost elements like direct materials, labor, and overhead, aiming to optimize operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. While project accounting is project-centric, concentrating on financial aspects of specific endeavors, cost accounting takes a company-wide perspective, concentrating on the overall cost structure and optimization strategies.

What is the difference between Project Accounting and Financial Accounting?

Financial accounting focuses on overall financial reporting for external stakeholders using standardized principles. Project accounting centers around tracking project-specific finances, aiding project management and decision-making. While financial accounting provides a comprehensive organizational view, project accounting offers detailed insights into individual projects’ financial aspects.


Project Accounting will continue to be important for agencies to monitor project profitability. The traditional ways however of getting these numbers have been complex and costly. Often, a simpler measurement approach can yield just as accurate results, informing decisions and insights while economizing resources.

While project accounting is the prevailing solution, it comes with substantial costs and time commitments. Its intricate computations and the allocation of costs and revenues to specific projects can prove unwieldy to implement. Furthermore, it diverts the finance team from its primary duty of ensuring accounting data compliance with regulatory and reporting mandates.

Gain insight into the same answers using just your Project, People, and Time data to uncover metrics like Average Billable Rate (ABR) and Estimated Delivery Margin. These metrics facilitate the identification of profitable projects, assessment of high-performing or underperforming clients or services, and the vigilant monitoring of budgets.

By adopting this approach, project managers can streamline their project accounting processes, make informed decisions grounded in data, and attain enhanced financial lucidity and success—all achieved with less temporal and operational investment compared to traditional Project Accounting methods.

Related Posts
How to Design the Perfect Client Experience with Joey Tackett — Ep.142

About this Episode In this episode of the Agency Profit Podcast, Marcel and Joey explore how clear communication and exceptional client experience can transform agency success. Joey, with over 20 years of agency expertise, shares proven strategies to help owners...

When, Who, & How to Hire for Success, with Jamie Van Cuyk –Ep.141

About this Episode In today’s insightful episode of the Agency Profit Podcast, Marcel speaks with Jamie Van Cuyk, a seasoned expert in hiring and onboarding, to uncover the essentials of building a reliable and proficient team. Jamie, the founder and CEO of Growing...

Get the Agency Profit Toolkit

The free tools, templates and training videos you need to measure the right metrics and improve your profitability.

Show/Hide Comments (0 comments)


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles