The actual cost of a project represents the true total and final costs accrued during the process of completing all work during the pre-determined period of time allocated for all schedule activities as well as for all work breakdown structured components. Actual costs are primarily made up of a number of specific items including, but not limited to, cost in direct labor hours, direct costs alone, and also all costs including indirect costs. Actual costs, when possible, should be thoroughly itemized in detail throughout the project as opposed to merely compiled at the end as it is easier to accurately itemize costs when it is done as the expenditures occur. The term actual cost can also be referred to as actual costs of work performed (AWCP). For more information on the term actual cost, see the definitions for earned value management as well as the definition for earned value technique.
This term is defined in the 3rd and the 4th edition of the PMBOK.