Application Of Activity‐based Costing

activity based costing

In a business organization, the ABC methodology assigns an organization’s resource costs through activities to the products and services provided to its customers. ABC is generally used as a tool for understanding product and customer cost and profitability based on the production or performing processes. As such, ABC has predominantly been used to support strategic decisions such as pricing, outsourcing, identification and measurement of process improvement initiatives. Second, it creates new bases for assigning overhead costs to items such that costs are allocated based on the activities that generate costs instead of on volume measures, such as machine hours or direct labor costs.

activity based costing

This approach works well in the limited setting in which it was initially applied, typically a single department, plant, or location. Difficulties arise, however, when you try to roll this approach out on a large scale for use on an ongoing basis. In one large bank’s brokerage operation, the ABC data-gathering process required 70,000 employees at more than 100 facilities to submit monthly reports of their time allocation. The company employed 14 people full-time just to manage the data collection, processing, and reporting.

Requires Data From Many Sources

When implementing ABC, a lot of time needs to be spent on defining the activities, the calculation of the cost price and the finding of cost drivers. This requires a company to provide detailed cost information which in turn leads to a complicated process. Smaller companies that have small overhead costs may find that using activity-based costing is not as efficient as other options. They are also more likely to use market-based costs when calculating data, which doesn’t always align with activity-based costing. You may most often find activity-based costing in the manufacturing industry.

While most customer costs are related to product costs, some overhead is involved. For example, if your company requires higher levels of customer service, you need to handle product returns or you have a cooperative marketing agreement, ABC will help you determine costs and which customers are more profitable.

  • Direct labour and materials are relatively easy to trace directly to products, but it is more difficult to directly allocate indirect costs to products.
  • In fact, the cost attached to an activity may be used as a metric for organizational or personnel performance.
  • These costs include salaries of the people performing the activities, material costs, equipment and furniture costs, and even R&D costs.
  • That drives the prevalence to slow processes in services and administrations, where staff time consumed per task defines a dominant portion of cost.
  • Activity-based costing records the costs that traditional cost accounting does not do.
  • Many people divide up all of their time when asked to report on their duration of work activities when it’s unlikely every minute of the day went into work.

This study examines the factors in the application of the activity-based costing method in firms in a transitional country. The study adopts a quantitative approach by developing a Logit regression model.

Example Of Traditional Costing

Uses several cost pools, organized by activity, to allocate overhead costs. Thus the cost of activities should be allocated to products based on the products’ use of the activities. In traditional cost price systems such as the cost centre and surcharge methods, indirect costs are allocated based on volumes of products, for instance hours of labour and machine hours. The costs are not allocated to the cost drivers and there is no causal relationship.

It is usually quite easy to segregate overhead costs at the plant-wide level, so you can compare the costs of production between different facilities. This can lead to the reapportionment of production work to those facilities incurring lower overhead costs, and possibly the shut-down of unusually high-cost facilities. With proper overhead allocation from an ABC system, you can determine the margins of various products, product lines, and entire subsidiaries. This can be quite useful for determining where to position company resources to earn the largest margins. Use activity drivers to apportion the costs in the secondary cost pools to the primary cost pools. The prerequisite for lesser cost in performing ABC is automating the data capture with an accounting extension that leads to the desired ABC model.

  • Having calculated the cost per time unit of supplying resources to the business’s activities, managers next determine the time it takes to carry out one unit of each kind of activity.
  • Our findings have implications for managerial practice and public policy.
  • Having more accurate profit margins can help business leaders make important decisions.
  • Time-driven ABC has overcome these difficulties, offering a transparent, scalable methodology that is easy to implement and update.
  • We know where we want to get to but we’ve got to go through a number of steps in order to get there.

Activity-based costing is a method to determine the total cost of manufacturing a product, including overhead. It is calculated by taking the cost pool total and dividing it by the cost driver. The allocation of overhead costs is more accurate and precise as they are separated and grouped into pools based on the number of activities. To simplify, rather than calculating the indirect expenses of the company by pooling all costs together, ABC pools costs based on activity. After arriving at different rates, we now have to arrive at product level total cost, which would be nothing but multiplying different overhead rates as arrived above with their actual cost drivers.

The New Abc

Allowing an organization, or even every employee involved, to understand the cost of doing each activity gives it a better chance to perform the activity better while minimizing costs. In fact, the cost attached to an activity may be used as a metric for organizational or personnel performance. As you can see, this is a multi-step process, but activity-based costing is a much more accurate way of assigning indirect costs.

activity based costing

The tracing of costs to activities refers to the process of determining where the total cost of each output comes from. Every output of an organization was produced by one or more activities, each of which incurred costs when undertaken. This step aims to determine where the costs are being incurred in producing an output, by determining which activities are needed to produce that output and what costs are incurred in each of these activities. This can be done by estimating the amount of resources used by each product or service, or by using actual data from past projects.


This makes it hard to determine the costs of the production factors and overheads as a result of which a distorted picture may be presented in terms of costs. Trace costs to activities and objects and then assign them to different pools. Activity-based costing is often on a project basis, meaning professionals only collect information once. However, operations can change over time, making the information less useful. If you can incorporate ABC data collection into an accounting system, it will ensure information is correct and readily available for any future ABC system needs. You are required to arrive at product-based total cost using ABC formula.

activity based costing

Because ABC offers comprehensive cost analysis, it gives you a clear picture of any costs that could be eliminated if you decide to outsource an item. Free Financial Modeling Guide A Complete Guide to Financial Modeling This resource is designed to be the best free guide to financial modeling! Our Accounting guides and resources are self-study guides to learn accounting and finance at your own pace. CGMA is the most widely held management accounting designation activity based costing in the world with more than 137,000 designees. It was established in 2012 by the AICPAandCIMAto recognise a unique group of management accountants who have reached the highest benchmark of quality and competence. The CGMA designation is built on extensive global research to maintain the highest relevance with employers and develop the competencies most in demand. CGMA designation holders qualify through rigorous education, exam and experience requirements.

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There are a number of different methods that can be used to assign costs to products and services. The most common methods are the use of activity drivers and ABC ratios. However, the total is broken out into different activities rather than departments, and an overhead rate is established for each activity.

  • Although an activity-based costing system gives you accurate production cost details, it can be difficult to implement.
  • Activitybased costing systems are more accuratethan traditional costing systems.
  • Clearly, there are many valuable uses for the information provided by an ABC system.
  • ABC is cost price calculation, in which the cost drivers are allocated to the costs incurred.
  • However as the percentages of indirect or overhead costs had risen, this technique became increasingly inaccurate because the indirect costs were not caused equally by all the products.
  • For example, the cost of the activity of bank tellers can be ascribed to each product by measuring how long each product’s transactions take at the counter and then by measuring the number of each type of transaction.
  • This analysis may result in some unprofitable customers being turned away, or more emphasis being placed on those customers who are earning the company its largest profits.

Accountants estimated the overhead and the volume of events for each activity. For example, management estimated the company would purchase 100,000 pieces of materials that would require overhead costs of $200,000 for the year. These overhead costs included salaries of people to purchase, inspect, and store materials.

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In practice, companies most frequently set rates for the entire year, although some set rates for shorter periods, such as a quarter. Assume High Challenge Company makes two products, touring bicycles and mountain bicycles. The touring bicycles product line is a high-volume line, while the mountain bicycle is a low-volume, specialized product.

Estimate an amount for the cost-driver for the appropriate period (laborhours per quarter, etc.). ABC can contribute to better cost price calculations for the benefit of the corporate strategy on the market. These estimates were made last year and will be used during all of the current year.

A significant portion of overhead costs are fixed and will be spread out over more units, thereby reducing the cost per unit. The point here is that managers must beware of using per unit cost information blindly for decision making, particularly if a significant change in the level of production is anticipated. In the field of accounting, activity-based costing and traditional costingare two different methods for allocating indirect costs to products.

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Examples of cost drivers include units, labor or machine hours, and parts. Activity-based costing is more complicated than traditional costing. Instead of general overhead costs and production-related activities, you need to be specific.