Cost of Goods Sold in QuickBooks: A Detailed Guide (How it Works and How to Use it Right)

In this article, we’ll explain how cost of goods sold works in QuickBooks, with a detailed how-to guide to help you master this feature.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is an essential metric for financial management, especially for businesses in industries like construction, where every cost counts. As a fundamental accounting metric, COGS is key to unlocking insights into a company’s profitability, efficiency in production, and overall financial health.

Yet, the complexity of tracking COGS manually can be daunting. Inaccurate calculations can skew financial statements, making it challenging to make well-informed business decisions. QuickBooks offers construction businesses an efficient way to track and calculate COGS, providing real-time insights and ensuring accuracy in financial reports.

In this detailed guide, we’ll explain how to best utilize COGS within QuickBooks, with a step-by-step walkthrough that empowers you to master this essential aspect of financial management. Beyond understanding COGS within the QuickBooks ecosystem, you’ll also glean valuable tips and strategies to streamline your accounting practices.

Let’s embark on this journey to demystify COGS in QuickBooks and equip you with the tools to navigate it seamlessly.

Understanding Cost of Goods Sold

Definition and Relevance to Business Accounting

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) represents the direct costs of producing goods or services a business sells. These costs encompass raw materials, labor directly involved in production, and the overhead directly attributed to manufacturing.

When large companies report their earnings, COGS is typically one of the first lines on their income statements. It’s usually placed just below the overall revenue total as a debit, with the difference between revenue and COGS becoming the reported gross profit for that period.

Why COGS Matters in Business Accounting

COGS is a pivotal metric that shapes a company’s financial health:

Impact on Business Profitability

COGS impacts a company’s profitability in three main ways:

Pricing Strategy Precision

Accurate COGS calculations can help a business set competitive prices while safeguarding profitability. It ensures that the business’ selling prices adequately cover the direct costs incurred in production or service delivery.

Cost Optimization and Resource Allocation

Tracking COGS enables businesses to identify inefficiencies and cost-saving opportunities, allowing more informed decisions about resource allocation and fostering operational efficiency.

Financial Decision-Making Power

COGS also aids investment planning, allowing businesses to make informed choices that optimize profitability and sustain growth.

By understanding COGS’ influence on financial metrics, businesses can enhance their operational efficiency and bottom-line profitability, especially construction businesses that often operate on razor-thin margins.

Quickbooks and COGS: An Overview

Introduction to Quickbooks as Accounting Software

QuickBooks has emerged as a go-to solution for construction business accounting, streamlining financial management with its user-friendly functionalities.

Quickbooks' Role in COGS Tracking and Calculation

QuickBooks has dedicated features specifically designed for accurate COGS management:

Step-By-Step Guide: Calculating Cogs in Quickbooks

Setting up Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) within QuickBooks is pivotal for accurate financial tracking. Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough to configure and effectively utilize this feature:

Accessing Settings

To initiate COGS tracking, navigate to the Settings or Preferences section in QuickBooks. Locate the COGS setup to begin configuring.

Entering Direct Costs

Once in the COGS setup, input direct costs associated with production. These include raw materials, labor costs, manufacturing overhead, and other expenses directly tied to producing goods or services. Accurate categorization at this stage ensures precise COGS calculations.

Detailed Walkthrough with Descriptions

Understanding the pivotal role transactions play in COGS calculations and effectively utilizing COGS reports are fundamental to ensuring accurate accounting and informed decision-making. 

Here’s a guide to navigating transactions, reviewing COGS reports, and addressing troubleshooting in QuickBooks:

Navigating Transactions

Ensure all relevant transactions, such as inventory purchases, production expenses, and sales, are accurately recorded. These directly impact COGS figures.

Reviewing COGS Reports

Utilize QuickBooks’ reporting feature to generate COGS reports. Follow these steps to access and review these reports:

Access COGS reports through the Reports section in QuickBooks. Look for options like “Cost of Goods Sold Summary” or “COGS Detail Report.”

Best Practices for Managing COGS in Quickbooks

Handling Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) within QuickBooks accurately and consistently requires a nuanced approach and adherence to best practices to ensure precise financial tracking. Here are some effective strategies to help you master COGS management within QuickBooks, and a few pitfalls to steer clear of…

Tips and Strategies for Efficient COGS Management

Consistent Data Entry

Emphasize the significance of consistent data entry protocols. Standardize the process for entering direct costs to maintain accuracy in COGS calculations across transactions.

Regular Reconciliation

Encourage frequent reconciliation between recorded costs and actual expenses. Leverage QuickBooks’ reconciliation tools to promptly address discrepancies and maintain precise COGS figures.

Utilize Class Tracking

QuickBooks offers Class Tracking functionality. Leverage this feature to categorize expenses by departments, locations, or product lines. It enhances granularity in COGS analysis, providing deeper insights into cost distribution.

Cost Monitoring and Alerts

Set up alerts within QuickBooks to monitor cost fluctuations. Establish thresholds and notifications to promptly identify significant cost changes, ensuring proactive management of COGS.

Optimize Inventory Management

Integrate inventory management tools within QuickBooks to synchronize inventory levels with COGS calculations. Streamline inventory tracking to ensure accurate COGS representation.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Ignoring Updates and Upgrades

Failing to stay abreast of QuickBooks updates deprives users of new COGS management features.

Regularly explore and implement new functionalities to optimize COGS tracking.

Lack of Data Backup Procedures

Overlooking data backup protocols poses a significant risk. Inadequate backups might lead to data loss, compromising the accuracy of COGS records.

Establish and follow robust backup procedures.

Inaccurate Cost Categorization

Categorizing costs improperly can distort COGS figures.

Ensure meticulous categorization of expenses to align with the correct COGS elements and avoid miscalculations.

Insufficient Documentation

Poor documentation practices hinder the validation of COGS calculations.

Maintain comprehensive records and documentation to support COGS figures for transparency and accuracy.

By embracing effective strategies and avoiding these pitfalls, businesses can harness QuickBooks’ full potential, ensuring precise COGS management, sound financial analysis, and properly informed decision-making.

Key Takeaways on COGS Management

The Last Word

Looking for more information on QuickBooks? Consider exploring the advanced features of QuickBooks through one of our many helpful QuickBooks guides, which you can access through the “Related Articles” below or via the left-hand navigation menu at the top of this article.

You might also explore complementary financial tools that seamlessly integrate with QuickBooks for more robust COGS management, such as expense optimization or specialized reporting software. Many purpose-built apps are more precise and can help you produce more accurate COGS calculations in QuickBooks than if you handled every aspect of your expenses through QuickBooks directly.

While QuickBooks is a versatile tool, it may lack certain specialized features tailored explicitly for the construction industry. For many construction businesses, labor costs are the most consistently challenging ones to manage in COGS calculations – which is where the to-the-minute accuracy of dedicated construction job-tracking software such as Workyard can comes in incredibly handy. 

Workyard was built from the ground up to support construction companies. With Workyard, it’s easy to manage the schedules of dozens or even hundreds (or more) of employees while accurately tracking their time on the job with our mobile app’s industry-leading GPS and geofencing capabilities.

More accurate time tracking has helped Workyard-using construction companies save a lot of money – one commercial decking contractor reported saving $150,000 on payroll waste after just six weeks!

Experience the difference Workyard can bring to your employee time-tracking efforts. Sign up for a free trial today or contact (650) 332-8623 for more details.

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