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Work in Process vs. Work in Progress: What’s the Difference?

Work in Progress vs. Work in Progress: An Overview

Work in progress describes the costs of unfinished products that remain in the manufacturing process, while work in progress refers to materials that are transformed into goods in a short period of time. The terms work-in-progress and work-in-progress are used interchangeably to refer to products halfway through the manufacturing or assembly process.

Key points to remember

  • Work in progress is the term used to describe partially completed products, which are usually transformed from raw materials to finished products in a short period of time.
  • Work in progress is the term used to describe large capital undertakings.
  • Work-in-progress and work-in-progress figures are recorded on a company’s balance sheet.
  • The accounting treatment of the two varies, as work in progress is usually reported as a current asset (associated with raw material inventory) while work in progress is usually reported as a non-current asset.
  • Manufacturing companies are more likely to use work in progress, while construction companies are more likely to use work in progress.

What is a work in progress?

Work in progress represents partially completed assets. These goods are also referred to as goods in process, and for some, work in progress refers to products that go from raw materials to the finished product in a short time. An example of work in progress may include manufactured goods that take less than a full accounting cycle to complete normally.

This inventory is found on the balance sheet of a manufacturing company. This inventory account, like work in progress, can include direct labor, materials, and manufacturing overhead. A company often uses internal allocation methods to determine the estimated financial value of work in progress. For example, the company must not only assess the financial value of incomplete goods, but also estimate the percentage of completion of its products.

What is a work in progress?

Work in progress is sometimes used to refer to assets which take a considerable amount of time to complete. The underlying assumption regarding the work in progress is that there is a larger project framework at play that requires a heavier investment of time for the process. Although some companies use more specific general ledger account types for construction projects, a large construction can be considered an example of work in progress.

Work in progress is also reported on a company’s balance sheet. As additional billings are incurred, the value of the work in progress account increases. A company may choose to determine the value of the asset fair market value (FMV) as part of its annual financial reporting requirements. For example, consider a 40-story skyscraper that is 75% complete; it may be justified for a company to recognize additional financial benefits beyond costs as an adjustment to FMV.

Be aware of acronyms when analyzing a company’s financial statements, as it is common for both terms to be abbreviated as “WIP”.

Main differences

Many companies use the two terms interchangeably to describe incomplete assets. However, there are subtle differences between work in progress and work in progress.

Work’s extent

Work in progress often indicates repetitive steps within a manufacturing process. A standard set of machinery/equipment can be used in conjunction with bulk raw material stocks to produce a standardized product. Although these products can always be larger in size or monetary value, they are more often associated with smaller and higher amounts of production.

On the other hand, the work in progress is more representative of massive and one-off undertakings. These projects have much longer timelines and can take years to complete a single instance. Let’s take an example of building a custom yacht; there is only one time, a set of various materials and a longer lead time needed for complete products than simpler products.


Due to its repeating nature of a process built into standardization, work in progress is often used more extensively in manufacturing. It can be used in any industry where there are partially completed products. Work in progress is often related to construction or other industries associated with large constructions. The billing system for these industries is called progress billings (does not process billings) where companies are paid based on percentage of project completion.

financial state

Both types of accounts can be found on a company’s account balance sheet. However, the nature of each may be slightly different and require different accounting treatment. Work in progress can refer to stock items with faster turnover. Because the time to complete and sell work-in-progress assets can be short, it may be reasonable to treat work-in-progress as a current asset, particularly if the work-in-progress is considered to be highly related. raw materials and inventory.

On the other hand, work in progress assets are generally treated as long-lived assets. These ventures can take years to complete, and the financial benefits of work-in-progress projects may not be fully recognized within the next year.

Accounting treatment

Some companies may attempt to complete all work in progress for simpler, cleaner financial statements. Although it is not mandatory, the objective is to eliminate all pending products and declare only finished products. When these goods are completed, they are often transferred to inventory for later treatment as cost of goods sold when purchased by a customer.

Work-in-progress assets are much larger efforts and may require capitalization if the work in progress investment is not an inventory item. For example, if a company decides to build an entirely new corporate headquarters, that project is considered a work in progress that will be capitalized upon completion. When work in progress is often not amortized over time, work in progress is more likely to incur depreciation expense over its useful life.

Construction companies can use specific work in progress accounts. Often indicates very similar types of work, this may include work in progress, building work in progress, or building work in progress. Tax agencies may also use these terms.

Liquidity of assets

In a stalemate, a business will find it much easier to liquidate work in progress items. Although these goods are incomplete and still require work to become finalized goods, the time to do so is much shorter than goods in process. In addition, the market may be more inclined to buy work-in-progress products directly if they are standardized products.

Work in progress items will have much less liquidity, and the business that incurs work-in-progress costs may find it much more difficult to liquidate the asset as it is completed. Work in progress (i.e. building a new warehouse or a specialized piece of equipment) can be very company-specific and have little or no value to other market participants. In-process items may require substantial price discounts to attract buyers, especially if the items are not standardized.

What is a work in progress?

Work in progress is an asset account used to report inventory items not yet completed. A company started taking raw materials and converting them into a finished product to sell. However, this end product is not yet complete and not yet ready for sale. Work in progress is generally used to report manufactured and standardized goods.

What is a work in progress?

Work in progress is an asset account used to report larger businesses. Work in progress projects typically span many accounting periods, have more complex and technical requirements, and represent larger work such as the construction of a building.

What is the difference between work in progress and work in progress?

Work in progress is used to report inventory items that are currently under construction but not yet complete. Work in progress, on the other hand, is typically used to report fixed assets on longer schedules that are not yet complete. Items in process are generally transferred to inventory and then used to determine the cost of goods sold. Work in progress is generally reported as a capital asset and amortized when completed.

The essential

Developers and manufacturers take raw materials and turn them into finished products. Depending on the scope of the business, they may be better suited to report on work in progress or work in progress. Work in progress generally refers to more standardized manufacturing practices of smaller products, while work in progress generally refers to larger, longer builds of more technical assets. In both cases, a company develops an asset but the accounting and accounting treatment may vary.

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