This topic is very important for the PMP exam. You may see a few questions from this topic on your exam.

You will often want to know how much more money you need to complete a remaining task.

In your personal matters, you can go with a guess, but in your professional life you must adopt a professional approach and use proven techniques to reach a decision.

In project management, one such technique is the Estimate to Complete (ETC), which is another forecasting technique used along with the estimate at completion.

This technique gives you an approximate idea of how much money will be required to complete the remaining balance of work.

Since this is a very important forecasting technique, I will explain this topic with three simple examples in three different scenarios, so you can understand it properly. Afterwards, we will move on to mathematical examples.

Okay, let’s get started.

**Example I**

You are constructing your home with a target budget of 100,000 USD. You are halfway to completion, and you feel that you may have to spend more than what you had planned. Therefore, you ask your contractor to give you a fresh estimate for the remaining work.

Your contractor calculates the cost of the remaining work and tells you that from now it will take 70,000 USD to finish building your home.

This 70,000 USD is the Estimate to Complete.

**Example II**

You are working on a project that is 30% completed, and 70% remains unfinished.

In this case, the Estimate to Complete is the expected amount of money to complete this 70% of remaining work.

**Example III**

There is another scenario in which you may want to calculate the Estimate to Complete.

Suppose that you’re building a five-story building and, due to a financial crisis, you cannot complete the project. Therefore, you decide to cut your building to three stories from five stories to save some money.

In this case, the Estimate to Complete will help you calculate your savings.

*So, the Estimate to Complete (etc.) is a forecasting tool in project management that tells you the expected amount of money that will be spent to complete the remaining part of the project.*

However, there is another forecasting tool that is often confused with the Estimate to Complete. This tool is the Estimate at Completion (EAC).

There is a difference between Estimate to Complete and Estimate at Completion.

Estimate at completion is the total cost of the project at the end. On the other hand, Estimate to Complete is the amount of money required to complete the remaining work from a given date.

Moreover, when the project starts, the EAC is equal to the ETC. As the project progresses, the ETC starts decreasing, and at the end of the project it becomes zero.

### How to Calculate the Estimate to Complete

There are two methods to calculate the Estimate to Complete.

- Bottom up Cost Estimation
- ETC = Estimate at Completion – Actual Cost

__Case I: Bottom up Cost Estimation __

In this case, you go to the activity level, find the cost of each activity for the remaining work, and add them to get the total cost of the remaining work.

There is no formula for the bottom up cost estimation technique.

**Example of ETC (Case I)**

You have a project to build a government department’s building for 500,000 USD. To date, you have spent 200,000 USD. However, during your project execution you noticed that your cost estimation was flawed and you need to re-calculate your budget for the remaining part of the project.

You sit down with your team members and re-estimate the cost of the remaining work. Your new estimate says that it will take 125,000 USD for construction, 75,000 USD for plumbing, 150,000 USD for painting, and 50,000 USD for other expenditures.

Calculate the Estimate to Complete (ETC).

Given in the question:

BAC = 500,000 USD

AC = 200,000 USD

Cost of construction = 125,000 USD

Cost of plumbing = 75,000 USD

Cost of painting = 150,000 USD

Other expenditures = 50,000 USD

Since you are using Bottom Up Cost Estimation, you will calculate the cost of each activity/work-package and then you will add them to get the final figure.

Hence, Estimate to Completion = Cost of construction + Cost of plumbing + Cost of painting + Other expenditures

= 125,000 + 75,000 + 150,000 + 50,000

= 400,000 USD

Hence, the Estimate to Complete is 400,000 USD.

__Case II: ETC = EAC – AC __

In this case, calculating the Estimate to Complete is very straightforward. First, you will calculate the estimate at completion, and then you will subtract the actual cost spent from it.

Estimate to Complete = Estimate at Completion – Actual Cost

ETC = EAC – AC

There are many ways to calculate the EAC. To calculate the EAC in different cases, you can visit my blog post on Estimate at Completion.

**Example of ETC (Case II)**

You have a project to be completed in 12 months, and the budget at completion of the project is 100,000 USD. Six months have passed and 60,000 USD has been spent, but on closer review you find that only 40% of the work has been completed so far. Your project is expected to perform with the same cost performance.

Find the Estimate to Complete (ETC) for this project.

Given in the question:

Budget at Completion (BAC) = 100,000 USD

Actual Cost (AC) = 60,000 USD

Planned Value (PV) = 50% of 100,000 USD

= 50,000 USD

Earned Value (EV) = 40% of 100,000 USD

= 40,000 USD

To determine ETC, first we have to find the EAC.

And, EAC = BAC / CPI

Hence, Cost Performance Index (CPI) = EV / AC

= 40,000 / 60,000

= 0.67

Therefore, Cost Performance Index (CPI) = 0.67

Now, Estimate at Completion (EAC) = BAC / CPI

= 100,000 / 0.67

= 149,253

Estimate at Completion (EAC) = 149,253 USD

Now, Estimate to Complete (ETC) = EAC – AC

= 149,253 – 60,000

= 89,253 USD

Hence the Estimate to Complete (ETC) for this project is 89,253 USD.

### Summary

The Estimate to Complete is the anticipated cost that you will need to complete the remaining part of the project. This is a forecasting tool and you will use it when the previous estimate is no longer valid and you need a fresh estimate for the rest of the work. Tracking ETC gives you information on the projected cost of the remaining work. This tool is useful for whenever something goes wrong and the cost baseline deviates. You will use this tool as quickly as possible and communicate to stakeholders to get the new budget approved.

If you have something to share, you can do so through the comments section. You can now move on to the next blog post on To Complete Performance Index (TCPI).

If you are interested in learning all the mathematical formulas for the PMP exam, you can try my PMP Formula Guide. You can also try my PMP Question Bank and PMP Mock Test to practice PMP exam sample questions.

Ravindra says

Fahad,

Its’ a nice article.

Theoretically, it looks like Budget at completion (BAC) & Estimate at completion (EAC) both are same. Practically (based on the formulas) they are not same. What is your opinion?

Fahad Usmani says

Theoretically when project starts, BAC and EAC are same. But as the project progresses EAC keeps on changing unless you’re exactly proceeding as per your approved planned and your actual exependiture remains equal to the planned exependiture

ziad says

Dear Fahad, When i can find ALL the PMBOK Formulas? Thank you!

Fahad Usmani says

I don’t have any blog post listing all PMP formulas, therefore I suggest you search it on Google and you will find what you are looking for.

Djon Lind Andersen says

The simple answer is that ‘estimate’ is a result of a calculation while ‘budget’ is a result of a decision.

Ravindra says

After posting the question, i had realized that EAC is calculated once the project is started. BAC is calculated at the begining of the project.

Thanks.

Fahad Usmani says

You are welcome Ravindra.

Muthu Mohamed says

it is really useful article to understand the concepts

Fahad Usmani says

Thanks Muthu.

Sandra says

Hi,

Since ETC = EAC – AC, rearranging it will give EAC = AC + ETC.

But EAC = AC + (BAC – EV), so can I say that ETC = BAC – EV?

Why can’t I just use ETC = BAC – EV in the example above to calculate the answer?

Thanks.

Fahad Usmani says

~~Of course Sandra, you can use it, who is stopping you!~~No, you cannot.

There are different situations to calculate the EAC. You can not mix them together algebraically. Unless you know the situation exactly, you can not use formulas and come to a conclusion.

Please read below given blog post:

https://pmstudycircle.com/2012/05/estimate-at-completion-eac-a-project-forecasting-tool/

kenzao says

@Sandra: As you said EAC = AC + (BAC-EV). My question is how did it come from? As I know, BAC-EV =AC so that means EAC = AC + AC? If yes, it’s incorrect. Please let me know

Thanks

MMB says

Kenzao

If past performances are likely to occur in the future, then EAC= AC+(BAC-EV)/CPI where CPI is Cost Performance Index so far.

If past performances are in line with planification, then CPI=EV/AC=1

Your statement BAC-EV=AC is not true (never true !!!)

MMB says

@Sandra

You can use ETC=BAC-EV if CPI so far is = 1

The general equation is ETC=(BAC-EV)/CPI

Saad says

Hi Sandra,

would you please clear it why the result not the same. as per Fahad , he said that you can use it

ETC = BAC – EV , but if I use it , it will give me different result

Thanks

Ram says

I calculated one of our project by this formula and the result is (-), so it means that there is no cost to complete the project?

Fahad Usmani says

Can you provide more detail on it?

Anish says

Dear Fahad

I wish to inform you that I passed PMP on 13th Feb, 2014. I also wish to inform you that It was nice experience going though your explanation of the terms. There is no feedback area , so writing it here. Thanks once again.

Regards

Fahad Usmani says

Congratulations Anish for passing the Exam. Would be glad if you share you detailed lessons learned here at PMSC.

Fahad

Deby202 says

@ Anish,

I’ll take any advice you or anyone can provide for taking the test this year. Thanks so much!

Deby202

Amin Hassan says

sorry,some thing not understood

Fahad Usmani says

Like what?

PSb21 says

Hello – very useful explanations – thank you so much.

One query I have which I can’t get my head around is proving mathematically that if EAC = IEAC then CPI = TCPI ?

For example – If EAC is simply independent estimate at completion (IEAC) then the TCPI is the same as the cost performance index (CPI), and we do not change our performance so IEAC is the correct estimate of our final cost – but how do I prove this mathemtically? CPI = TCPI?

Fahad Usmani says

If the BAC = EAC, in this case CPI = TCPI.

Refer the below blog post for more details:

https://pmstudycircle.com/2012/05/to-complete-performance-index-tcpi-in-project-cost-management/

Daniela says

Hello,

thank you so much for these very good examples. Could you help me find out how to calculate the estimated time to complete? Especially in cases where one is behind schedule.

Thank you in advance,

Daniela

Fahad Usmani says

You can refer below given post:

https://pmstudycircle.com/2012/05/estimate-at-completion-eac-a-project-forecasting-tool/

Sekar says

Hi,

The explanation given by you is very clear and nice. It helped me to clear many of the questions I had in my mind.

Thanks a lot for this blog.

Sekar

Fahad Usmani says

I am glad I could help you Sekar.

Amita Sharma says

Excellent Explanation….. very well written… Have been studying for past 2 months but was lost…This is much better than other explanations… Thanks!!!

Fahad Usmani says

I am glad that you liked my blog Amita. Let me know if you need any help from me.

Neetu says

Hello Fahad,

Great article, tremendous help for understanding the fundamentals in simple manner.

Keep up the good work !

Thanks

Fahad Usmani says

Thanks Neetu for stopping by and leaving the comment.

daniela says

Hi, I am studying in Italy; your blog is tremendously helpful. I wish my teachers were as clear as you are.

Fahad Usmani says

Thanks Daniela for your comment.

Mac says

Thank you Fahad!

It’s a nice explanation with examples which makes understanding easier.

Fahad Usmani says

You are welcome Mac.

Justice says

Hi Fahad,

You have any idea how the estimate to complete (ETC) can be calculated in Microsoft project? Thanks.

Habib says

Hello Fahad,

I really appreciate it if you could answer the following confusing questions;

1- Project manager has gone to review project and collect feedback with the resources Managers …which process is he envolving??

– project communication ?

– Stakeholder Analysis?

2- After fire has took place..the first thing employees have to do ?

– use contingency reserve

– asses the damage and update project documents

3- A client has agreed to get the project which is located on the Earthquake zone , you as project manger asked to assess the business case ;

– you have to determine if the client has made a right decision

– is it worthy to invest?

Also there is an answer to the question does not make any sense !

1-Your approved cost baseline has changed because of

a major scope change on your project. Your next step should be to—

a. Estimate the magnitude of the scope change

b. Issue a change request

c. Document lessons learned

d. Execute the approved scope change

The answer is B but does’nt make sense …I chose D?? I assumed since there has been change that means change request is already done !

Thank you very much for your time

Waiting your response

Saad says

Hello Fahad,

Would you please explain why the following equation did not give the same result as I use

( ETC = BAC – EV )to get ETC

While you use EAC – AC = ETC

Thank you very much for your time

Waiting your response

Fahad Usmani says

Sorry for the confusion, at first I did not pay attention to Sandra’s comment, I thought it was a algebraic realignment of terms, which it was not.

Please read the below given blog post:

https://pmstudycircle.com/2012/05/estimate-at-completion-eac-a-project-forecasting-tool/

Scarlet says

Hi there,

I had a question about two other formulas I was given to calculate ETC…

ETC=(BAC-EV)/CPI

ETC=(BAC-EV)/CSI

When would you use these indexes in the ETC, can you provide an example?

If I were to assume my cost is on budget, but work is ahead of schedule: wouldn’t that mean my original ETC is still valid and just my schedule is flawed? (I am misunderstanding when CPI and CSI would come into play in this scenario because my index is >1)

Fahad Usmani says

You use the formula “ETC = BAC – EV” with an assumption that you can complete the project with planned CPI.

You use the formula “ETC = (BAC – EV)/CPI” with an assumption that the future cost performance will be same as the current cost performance.

Sameer says

ETC = (BAC – EV)/(CPI*SPI) should also be correct if its asked to completed the work as planned?

Fahad Usmani says

From where did you get this formula?

Dana M. Anderson says

Hi,

Somewhere o.j. mangy early notes, I ran across the following 2 formulas. I can’t seem to find them in texts. Are either correct? Did I write them incorrectly?

ETC = BAC – EV. and ETC =BAC-EV/CPI

(I’m familiar with ETC= EAC-AC)

Thank you.

Partha Mandal says

Hi

Need some clarity on the relationship between ETC/EAC and Contingency Reserve/Management Reserve. I could vaguely recollect to see the explanation in one of your blogs but could not locate now. Please help.