About methods for calculating the cost to complete a project


This content is archived and is not being updated. For the latest documentation, see Microsoft Dynamics 365 product documentation. For the latest release plans, see Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform release plans.

Applies To: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Feature Pack, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

When you create an estimate, you can define how the cost to complete the project is calculated. The method that you choose is applied individually to each cost line in the cost estimate. In the Cost estimate form, you can change the method that is applied to a line while it has a status of Created.

The cost to complete methods

You can choose from six methods to calculate the cost to complete a project. You select a method in the Cost to complete method field in the Create estimate form.

Cost to complete method


Total cost - actual

When you choose the Total cost - actual method, estimated costs must be entered manually. After the Total cost or Total quantity column in the Cost estimate form is completed, the actual costs are subtracted from the user-entered totals to arrive at the cost to complete the project.

Typically, tracking the progress of costs is not based, for example, on how many hotel stays and meals are recorded in each period. Instead, it is usually based on a comparison against the total amount of estimated hours.

This approach does not require a forecast model, and the total cost or total quantity can be manually edited. When a value is typed in one of the totals columns, the system compares this value against the actual transactions posted in that period, and decreases the value in the Quantity to complete or Cost to complete column.

Total budget - actual

When you choose the Total budget - actual model, actual costs are compared against the forecast model that you select to determine the cost. This method uses a total budget model with forecasted transactions.

If necessary, you can adjust the budget model when the project is in progress to get a more accurate view of the project. If you adjust the forecast, follow this general process:

  1. Copy forecast transactions into another forecast model.

  2. Compare forecast transactions with actual transactions.

  3. Maintain, decrease, or increase the estimates for the next period.

The system does not automatically decrease the forecasted estimates. Therefore, we recommend that you maintain an original forecast model on the Fixed-price project to establish a baseline to compare with when the project is completed.


Use at least two forecast models when you apply this approach. One model should contain the original forecast. For the other, you should copy forecast transactions from another model. In the Create estimate form, select a model in the Copy from model field. This method is valid for Fixed-price and Investment projects only.

Remaining budget

The Remaining budget method uses a remaining budget model to arrive at the cost to complete the project.

When you use this method, the actual costs and the forecasted amounts in the remaining budget model are added together to get a total cost. Before you use this method, a remaining budget model must be set up to deduct transactions based on actual transactions that are recorded in the system. To do this, make sure that the check boxes are selected in the Automatic forecast reduction group in the Forecast models form. (Click Project management and accounting > Setup > Forecasts > Forecast models.)

Typically, a remaining budget is copied from an original budget. As transactions are entered, the transactions on the remaining budget are decreased. As the project progresses, if you determine that the remaining budget must be adjusted, you can charge forecast transactions to the remaining budget.


The Remaining budget method can be applied only if a forecast model is attached to the estimate.

As previous estimate

When you use this method, you apply the same estimate method that was used in the previous period.

This method requires a forecast model if the previous period required a forecast model.

Set cost to complete to zero

This method is typically used before the estimate project is eliminated. It matches the total estimates with the actual transactions that were posted and clears the Cost to complete column. The resulting percentage of completion is always 100 percent. The Forecasting check box is cleared for each cost line that you create, and the total estimate is copied from the previous cost estimate. The actual consumption for the estimate period is deducted from the cost to complete the project.

This method does not require a forecast model.

From cost template

This method uses the cost to complete method that is set up in the cost template that is associated with the selected estimate project.

See also

Examples: Cost to complete methods