Costs in Excess of Billings and Billings in Excess of Costs

Introduction to Costs in Excess of Billings and Billings in Excess of Costs

In the fast-paced world of project management and accounting, keeping track of costs and billings is crucial. Two important terms that professionals in these fields often encounter are “Costs in Excess of Billings” (COB) and “Billings in Excess of Costs” (BOC). Understanding these concepts is essential for maintaining financial health and ensuring projects stay on track.

This blog post will walk you through everything you need to know about COB and BOC, from detailed definitions to real-world examples. By the end of this article, you’ll be well-equipped to manage these financial variances like a pro.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Journal Entries

Accurate journal entries are the backbone of effective financial management. They ensure that your financial statements reflect the true state of your business. For projects, this means accurately recording costs and billings to track cash flow, profitability, and overall project performance.

Proper journal entries for COB and BOC are particularly important because they affect your balance sheet and income statement. Missteps here can lead to incorrect financial reporting and poor decision-making.

Step-by-Step Guide to Recording Costs in Excess of Billings and Billings in Excess of Costs

Recording Costs in Excess of Billings (COB)

COB occur when the costs incurred on a project exceed the amount billed to the customer. Here’s how to record it:

  1. Identify the COB Amount:
  • Example: If you incurred $100,000 in costs but only billed $80,000, the COB amount is $20,000.
  1. Journal Entry:
  • Debit: Work in Progress (WIP) $20,000
  • Credit: Revenue $20,000
  1. Explanation:
  • This entry increases your WIP asset account and recognizes the unbilled revenue.

Recording Billings in Excess of Costs (BOC)

Billings in Excess of Costs happen when the amount billed to the customer exceeds the costs incurred. Here’s how to record it:

  1. Identify the BOC Amount:
  • Example: If you billed $60,000 but incurred $50,000 in costs, the BOC amount is $10,000.
  1. Journal Entry:
  • Debit: Revenue $10,000
  • Credit: Unearned Revenue $10,000
  1. Explanation:
  • This entry recognizes the advance billing as a liability (unearned revenue) until the costs catch up with the billing.

Real-World Examples and Scenarios for Clarity

Example 1: Construction Firm A


  • Project Budget: $500,000
  • Costs Incurred (6 months): $300,000
  • Billed Amount (6 months): $250,000

COB Calculation:

  • COB = $300,000 – $250,000 = $50,000

Journal Entry:

  • Debit: Work in Progress (WIP) $50,000
  • Credit: Revenue $50,000

Example 2: Software Development Company B


  • Contract Value: $200,000 (9 months)
  • Billed Amount (4 months): $180,000
  • Costs Incurred (4 months): $120,000

BOC Calculation:

  • BOC = $180,000 – $120,000 = $60,000

Journal Entry:

  • Debit: Revenue $60,000
  • Credit: Unearned Revenue $60,000

Tips for Accurate and Timely Journal Entries

  1. Regular Reconciliation:
  • Reconcile your accounts regularly to ensure that all costs and billings are accurately recorded.
  1. Use Accounting Software:
  • Leverage technology to automate and streamline your journal entries. Software like QuickBooks or SAP can help.
  1. Stay Updated:
  • Keep abreast of changes in accounting standards and best practices to ensure compliance and accuracy.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Ignoring Timing Differences:
  • Failing to account for timing differences between costs and billings can lead to inaccurate financial statements.
  1. Overlooking Small Transactions:
  • Even small discrepancies can add up over time. Ensure all transactions are recorded, no matter how minor they seem.
  1. Lack of Documentation:
  • Always keep detailed records to support your journal entries. This is crucial for audits and future reference.


Understanding and accurately recording each is essential for maintaining the financial health of any project. By following the guidelines and examples provided in this blog post, accountants, finance professionals, and project managers can ensure that their financial records are accurate and up-to-date.

If you need further assistance or want to refine your financial management skills, consider booking a consultation with one of our experts. We’re here to help you master the complexities of project accounting and achieve financial success.

For more tips and resources, sign up for our newsletter or visit our blog. Happy accounting!

Additional Resources and External Links

For those looking to delve deeper into the intricacies of project accounting, here are some valuable external resources:

  • Project Management Institute (PMI): PMI offers a wealth of resources, including standards, guides, and certifications that can enhance your understanding of project management and accounting practices.
  • American Institute of CPAs (AICPA): The AICPA provides comprehensive guidelines, tools, and updates on accounting standards that are crucial for making informed financial decisions.
  • QuickBooks: Learn how to leverage accounting software effectively by visiting QuickBooks, which offers tutorials, webinars, and other resources to streamline your financial processes.
  • Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA): The CFMA is a dedicated resource for professionals in construction finance, providing industry-specific content, events, and networking opportunities.
  • GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles): Familiarize yourself with these widely-recognized accounting principles by visiting the [Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)]( website.

By exploring these links, you can gain further insights and knowledge to enhance your skills in managing each cost.

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