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What is Estimate at Completion in Project Management

Have you ever found yourself knee-deep in a project, only to realize that the costs are spiraling out of control? Or you are a project manager who is constantly being bombarded with questions about when a project will be completed and how much it will cost. In the world of project management, these are everyday struggles that many professionals face. 

That’s where Estimate at Completion (EAC) comes in. EAC is a vital tool that helps project managers predict how much a project will cost once it is complete, allowing them to plan better and allocate resources.

I will delve into the concept of Estimate at Completion in project management, discussing its importance, how to calculate it, and why it is crucial for successful construction cost estimation. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let’s explore the world of EAC together.

Understanding Estimate at Completion

Estimate at Completion (EAC) in project management is a crucial forecasting method used to estimate the total cost of a project at its completion. This technique is precious when a project is underway and faces uncertainties that could affect its overall budget. The EAC is derived using various formulas and considers factors such as the actual costs incurred so far, the budget at completion, and the earned value of the work completed.

The concept of EAC is embedded within the broader framework of Earned Value Management (EVM), a systematic project management process that helps project managers measure project performance and progress objectively. It uses three key metrics: Planned Value (PV), Actual Cost (AC), and Earned Value (EV) to forecast project performance issues and to ensure that the project is on track both in terms of schedule and budget.

One of the basic formulas to calculate EAC is:

[ \text{EAC} = \text{AC} + (\text{BAC} – \text{EV}) ]

This formula assumes that the project will continue to perform at the same rate as it has up to the point of analysis. However, there are several other ways to calculate EAC, depending on the specific conditions and assumptions related to the project’s future performance.

For example, if a project has deviated from its planned budget or schedule but is expected to proceed as initially planned hereon, a different formula might be applied, taking into consideration the revised estimation of costs to complete the remaining work.

Understanding and accurately calculating EAC is vital for project managers to ensure that they can guide their projects to completion within the approved budget. It also facilitates better decision-making by providing a realistic picture of the project’s financial health. It allows for corrective actions to be taken in a timely manner if the project is veering off track financially.

Terms to Know Before Calculating Estimate at Completion

Here, we’ll explore some fundamental terms and concepts associated with calculating EAC to provide a comprehensive understanding of its importance and how it’s determined.

Budget at Completion (BAC):

This represents the initial budgeted total cost of the project. BAC is established at the beginning of the project and serves as a baseline for measuring financial performance.

Actual Cost (AC):

The Actual Cost refers to the total cost incurred for the work performed on the project up to a specific point in time. It includes all costs, such as labor, materials, and overheads.

Earned Value (EV):

Earned Value is a measure of the work completed on the project, expressed in terms of the budget allocated for that work. EV helps assess both the schedule and cost performance of the project.

Cost Performance Index (CPI):

CPI is a ratio that measures the cost efficiency of the project’s progress. It is calculated by dividing the Earned Value (EV) by the Actual Cost (AC). A CPI greater than 1 indicates that the project is under budget, while a CPI less than 1 shows that the project is over budget.

Estimate to Complete (ETC):

ETC forecasts the expected cost to finish all the remaining project work. This estimate can be determined using the current project performance or re-estimating the cost of the remaining work.

Schedule Performance Index (SPI):

While not directly related to EAC, SPI measures the efficiency of the project’s schedule. It is calculated by dividing EV by the Planned Value (PV). It provides insight into how well the project is adhering to its planned schedule.

How to Calculate EAC

Several methods can be used to calculate EAC, depending on the project’s circumstances and the information available. Some common approaches include:


Used when current variances are not expected to affect future work.


This applies when projects are expected to continue at their current rate of spending.

EAC = AC + [(BAC – EV) / (CPI * SPI)]:

This formula is used when both cost and schedule variances are influencing the project.

Understanding and accurately calculating EAC allows project managers to make informed decisions regarding budget adjustments, resource allocation, and project scope to ensure successful project completion within the financial targets set at the outset.


Being able to predict and manage project costs accurately is crucial for success in project management. This is where the concept of estimate at completion (EAC) comes into play. By taking into account actual costs incurred and projecting future expenses, EAC allows project managers to assess the overall health of a project and make informed decisions to keep it on track. Project managers need to understand the factors that influence EAC and continuously monitor them throughout the project’s lifecycle. Additionally, embracing a flexible mindset and being open to course corrections can help mitigate any unforeseen circumstances that may impact EAC. So whether you are embarking on your first project or are a seasoned professional, make sure you pay close attention to EAC – after all, it could be the key to your project’s success!

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