How to Use LiquidPlanner to Track Profitability

Tatyana Sussex | November 13, 2014

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Are your projects making money?

Every business needs to earn a profit to stay in business—that’s a given. And along the way, it helps to have a project management tool that can show you your profit margins (or lack thereof). LiquidPlanner gives you those dollar figures that tell you how you’re doing financially—provided you’ve entered all the necessary data to put those rate sheets to work for you.

How to build out a project to see profitability

First, you need the right data.  In order to get an accurate report on profitability, you and your team must do three things:

  1. Estimate your work.
  2. Set a default activity on every task.
  3. Track time on all parts of every project item you touch.

Without this project data, you can’t get an accurate profit report. But once your project plan is built out with all these elements in place, and everyone tracks their time, the next step is using LiquidPlanner’s rate sheets.

Using rate sheets

Rate sheets let you set up Pay Rules and Billing Rules. This allows you to calculate how much you’re paying out for each resource, and how much each resource is bringing in. While this information helps you manage your resources throughout the project, it also tells you if you’re in the black (and how much), and gives you a profit forecast.

Access to Pay Rules and Billing Rules is limited to workspace owners and co-owners. To find these sheets in your workspace, go to Settings > Data Customization > Billing Rules or Pay Rules.

On the Pay Rules sheet, enter pay rates for each person or team.

profitability_pay rules

On the Billing Rules sheet, enter the billing rates. This can be done by person, project or the type of work being done (activity).


Once the rates are set up, the numbers are automatically calculated for work done and work remaining—figures that you can include in your financial metrics based on timesheet data entered by the team.

Here’s an example of rate sheet calculations in a project report that was generated via analytics.

rate sheet

During the planning and execution stages, your profit margins are estimations. The benefit of peering into these prospective net gains (or losses) is being able to reallocate resources or change the project scope before you blow up your budget.

When the project is done and delivered, and everyone’s tracked time, then you’ll have your final profit margin.

Use Analytics to see your profit

Now it’s show-me-the-money time. Here’s how to see your profit margin.

  • Go to the Analytics tab.
  • Select Project Report, and then Project Roll-up.
  • Change the Date Filter to All Dates.
  • Click the Columns button to expose the following columns in your report:
    • $ Pay Total [E]: Gives you the fully burdened cost of the work being done on the project
    • $ Total Billable [E]: Gives you the amount you should earn from the work done on the project
    • $ Delta Bill vs Pay: The profit to the bottom line.
Money in the bank!

And there you have it—your profit is $5,535.00, and the project is in the black!

If you want to learn about project costing in LiquidPlanner, sign up now.