How to Use QuickBooks For Job Costing - Setting Up Payroll

Ruth Perryman
September 10, 2009 — 2,041 views  
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Many companies believe that setting up payroll in QuickBooks for job costing is frustrating and difficult. It's true that there are several steps that need to be taken in order for payroll to flow properly to the job costing reports, especially if you want to include payroll taxes and benefits, but the step-by-step instructions below will help guide you through the setup.

You must have a QuickBooks payroll subscription to use these instructions. If you are trying to use job costing with a non-QuickBooks payroll provider, you will not only make your bookkeeping much more time-consuming but also introduce opportunities for errors to be made. QuickBooks offers a complete payroll solution, just like ADP and Paychex, at a great price so there's no reason not to switch.

Since labor is usually the biggest expense for most companies who are doing job costing, it is vitally important that it be included in your job cost reports. If you don't, then jobs will look more profitable than they really are. Even worse, some of them might even be losing money without you even knowing it. This not only affects your present situation, but can lead you to create inaccurate estimates for future jobs.

So here are the steps for setting up payroll for job costing in QuickBooks:

Set up Preferences:

1. Go to Edit > Preferences > Company Preferences and select Payroll & Employees

2. Select "Full Payroll" or "Complete Payroll Customers"

3. Check "Job Costing, Class and Item tracking for paycheck expenses"

4. Go to Time & Expenses

5. Select Yes under "Do you track time?"

6. May also want to check "Create invoices from a list of time & expenses"

Set up Payroll Items:

1. Go to Lists > Payroll Items

2. Edit every Addition and Company Contribution item to ensure that "Track expenses by job" is checked

3. Payroll items can only map to one expense account, so you may want to setup separate ones for COGS and overhead payroll expense

4. You can't assign two payroll items for payroll taxes - check out my workaround

Set up Employee Records:

1. Go to the Employee Center and double-click on employee name

2. Change Tab to Payroll & Compensation Info

3. Check "Use time data to create paychecks"

Set up Default for New Employees:

1. Go to the Employee Center and select Manage Employee Information > Change Employee Default Settings

2. Check "Use time data to create paychecks

Set up Workers Comp:

1. Setup workers comp at Employees > Workers Compensation > Setup Workers Comp

2. Setup your workers comp codes at Employees > Workers Compensation > Workers Comp List

3. Go to Lists > Payroll Items to double-check that the Workers Comp payroll item has "Track expenses by job" checked

Using Timesheets

1. Go to Employees > Enter Time > Use Weekly Timesheet

2. Complete all information including both a payroll item & a service item (these are different) - mark as billable if you do time & material billing

3. You may want to add a customer:job for overhead

4. Consider using Time Tracker or WorkTrack Time Card so employees can enter their own time

If you need additional assistance, please call our QuickBooks technical support line at 888-351-5285. We are here to help you get the most out of QuickBooks!

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Ruth Perryman is the president of The QB Specialists. She is a Certified Advanced Quickbooks ProAdvisor and an Intuit Solutions Provider, with over 19 years of industry experience including 5 years as a Chief Financial Officer.  She has been working with Quickbooks since 1996, and specializes in QuickBooks Enterprise and POS installations and troubleshooting.  She also provides virtual controller and CFO services.  Ruth can be reached at [email protected].

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Ruth Perryman