For example, consider a 40-story skyscraper that is 75% complete; it may be warranted for a company to recognize additional financial benefits beyond costs as a FMV adjustment. Work in progress is sometimes used to refer to assets that require a considerable amount of time to complete. The underlying assumption regarding work in progress is there is larger project framework in play that requires a heavier investment in time for the process. Although some companies use more specific types of general ledger accounts for construction projects, a large build may be considered an example of work in progress. Thus, it is important for investors to discern how a company is measuring its WIP and other inventory accounts.

The process and flow of WIP inventory are important to understand because they can indicate how efficient your supplier or manufacturer is at producing finished goods. By working closely with your supplier and other partners in your retail supply chain, like a 3PL company, you can find ways to optimize the supply chain. On the other hand, ‘work in progress’ is often used in construction and other service businesses and refers to the progress of a project and how much it costs compared to the percentage of completion. When these terms are used by businesses selling a physical product, both mean the same thing. From a production theory perspective, there has been an increasing emphasis on reducing the amount of WIP units in the production process at any one time. By reducing WIP, there is less clutter in the production area and less chance of having defective products build up before being discovered, while the total investment in inventory can be kept as low as possible.

This differentiation may not necessarily be the norm, so either term can be used to refer to unfinished products in most situations. This account of inventory, like the work-in-progress, may include direct labor, material, and manufacturing overhead. Work in progress (WIP) refers to partially-completed goods that are still in the production process. These items may currently be undergoing transformation in the production process, or they may be waiting in queue in front of a production workstation. Work in progress items do not include raw materials or finished goods. In accounting, inventory that is work-in-progress is calculated in a number of different ways.

Instead, companies have adopted various methods to estimate or present WIP accounting in their balance sheets. Keep in mind, other fees such as trading (non-commission) fees, Gold subscription fees, wire transfer fees, and paper statement fees may apply to your brokerage account. Work that is scheduled for completion at specific times eliminates delays caused by large amounts clogging up the systems and waiting for work to be pulled or finished. Batching helps create flow between work centers on the factory floor. In fact, it is safe to say that WIP has an effect on the net income or overall profitability of the company.

When a company first purchases the raw materials they need to produce a good, those raw materials typically appear on the balance sheet as their own separate subcategory of inventory. Work-in-progress (WIP) is a term that describes products that are partially finished and at various stages of the production chain. Work in progress items will have substantially less liquidity, and the company incurring work in progress costs may find it much more difficult to liquidate the asset as it is being completed. Work in progress items (i.e. the construction of a new warehouse or specialized piece of equipment) may be very specific to a company and hold little to no value to other market participants.

WIP management: a quick win

Work in process may refer to items of inventory with quicker turnover. When combs are manufactured, plastic is moved into production as a raw material. Since the combs are only partially completed, all costs are posted to WIP. When the combs are completed, the costs are moved from WIP to finished goods, with both accounts being part of the inventory account. Costs are moved from inventory to cost of goods sold (COGS) when the combs are eventually sold.

  • WIP accounting does not include costs for items that have not entered the production assembly line.
  • Work in progress inventory is more valuable than raw materials that have yet to be put into manufacturing use but is not more valuable than a company’s finished goods or finished inventory ready for sale.
  • Many companies use both terms interchangeably to describe incomplete assets.
  • It’s certainly not much of a problem in a merchandising concern where, often, there is only one type of inventory maintained.
  • Developers and manufacturers take raw materials and convert them into finished goods.
  • In this way, you can’t make any assumptions about what counts as a finished good and what counts as a work in progress item without taking an in-depth look at the company itself.

Our work has been directly cited by organizations including Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Investopedia, Forbes, CNBC, and many others. Our goal is to deliver the most understandable and comprehensive explanations of financial topics using simple writing complemented by helpful graphics and animation videos. We follow strict ethical journalism practices, which includes presenting unbiased information and citing reliable, attributed resources. Our team of reviewers are established professionals with decades of experience in areas of personal finance and hold many advanced degrees and certifications. For example, consulting and manufacturing projects often have custom requirements based on the client. These expenses cannot be moved elsewhere or re-invested into other departments within the manufacturing setup.

metrics you need to know to calculate current WIP inventory

Imagine that a company has more products in work-in-progress than it usually does, but its sales haven’t increased. This increase might be a sign that there are bottlenecks in the production process, and things aren’t running smoothly — or that the business has reason to believe sales are going to spike soon. Once a company has used the materials in the production of a good, those materials are moved on the balance sheet to the work-in-progress category. And once the company has finished the product and its ready to sell, it appears on the balance sheet as a finished good (another subcategory of inventory).

Works-in-Progress vs. Finished Goods

In most cases, accountants consider the percentage of total raw material, labor, and overhead costs that have been incurred to determine the number of partially completed units in WIP. The cost of raw materials is the first cost incurred in this process because materials are required before any labor costs can be incurred. WIP is a concept used to describe the flow of manufacturing costs from one area of production to the next, and the balance in WIP represents all production costs incurred for partially completed goods. Production costs include raw materials, labor used in making goods, and allocated overhead. Work in process (WIP) inventory refers to the total cost of unfinished goods currently in the production process at the end of each accounting period. Work-in-progress, as mentioned above, is sometimes used to refer to assets that require a considerable amount of time to complete, such as consulting or construction projects.

Great! Your retirement-ready report is on its way.

Work-in-progress often refers to products that take a while to complete and have a lot of material and labor that go into them. A similar term, work-in-process, also describes products that the company hasn’t yet completed. The terms often appear interchangeably, but most often, work-in-process refers to products that move through the production process from raw material to finished goods fairly quickly. Usually, accountants assign all raw materials, gather all labor and overhead costs, and then record the sum of all these costs as an asset entry in the balance sheet. Some companies may attempt to complete all work in process items for simpler, cleaner financial statements.


WIP takes up time and space as work is passed from one person to another before being finished. In some cases, work might accumulate too much WIP before being shipped or put into the system, making it difficult to work with or find. Someone on our team will connect you with a financial professional in our network holding the correct designation and expertise. Total WIP Costs are calculated as a sum of WIP Inventory + Direct Labor Costs + Overhead costs.

Use a 3PL to help with inventory management

Work in progress items may require substantial pricing discounts to entice buyers, especially if the items are not standardized. This ratio shows the relationship between your current assets and current liabilities. Do not forget that your WIP ending inventory balance is a component of your current assets.

A piece of inventory is classified as a WIP whenever it has been mixed with human labor but has not reached final goods status. WIP, along with other inventory accounts, can be determined by various accounting methods across different companies. This means that units or jobs should be in progress for an average of 156 days.

The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. The formula to calculate both terms, however, is mostly the same for accounting purposes. The time required to make a good or product, in this case, a building, is much longer and requires more material and manpower as compared to a factory or consulting project. ABC already has $100,000 worth of raw material inventory left over from the previous year and makes additional purchases of $300,000 to manufacture new television sets for this year. Its raw materials consist of an assortment of electronic circuits, cathode ray tubes, displays, and packaging materials.

Many companies use both terms interchangeably to describe incomplete assets. However, there are subtle differences between work in process and work in progress. Be mindful of acronyms when analyzing a company’s financial statement, as it is common for both terms to be shortened to “WIP.” Inventory Turnover, or inventory turns, will show you how effective you are at managing your inventory levels. If you want to know something about a company’s financial state, such as its liquidity or profitability, all you have to do is use the appropriate financial ratios.

Allocations of overhead can be based on labor hours or machine hours, for example. It is standard practice to minimize the amount of WIP inventory before reporting is necessary since it is difficult and time-consuming to estimate the percentage of completion for an inventory asset. For example, they’ll have their accountants do the reviewing – more formally, it is referred to as “financial statements analysis” – and then have them interpret the results and make recommendations in layman’s terms. Work in progress inventory is accounted for as an asset on a company’s balance sheet, similar to raw materials or inventory.