ACTIVITY-BASED COSTING MODEL

Topics: Management accounting, Cost, Cost accounting Pages: 9 (2327 words) Published: May 26, 2012
ACTIVITY-BASED COSTING MODEL

I. Definition
Activity based costing (ABC) is an accounting method that identifies the activities a firm performs creating the real cause of the overhead, and then assigns the indirect costs of those activity only to the products that are actually demanding the activities. An activity based costing (ABC) system recognizes the relationship between costs, activities and products, and through this relationship assigns indirect costs to products less arbitrarily than traditional methods. Some costs are difficult to assign through this method of cost accounting. Indirect costs, such as management and office staff salaries are sometimes difficult to assign to a particular product produced. For this reason, this method has found its niche in the manufacturing sector. Traditional costing and ABC

Traditionally cost accountants had arbitrarily added a broad percentage of analysis into the indirect cost. In addition, activities include actions that are performed both by people and machine. However, as the percentages of indirect cost rose (i.e. automation), this technique became increasingly inaccurate, because indirect costs were not caused equally by all products. For example, one product might take more time in one expensive machine than another product—but since the amount of direct labor and materials might be the same, additional cost for use of the machine is not being recognized when the same broad 'on-cost' percentage is added to all products. Consequently, when multiple products share common costs, there is a danger of one product subsidizing another. ABC as an approach to solve the problems of traditional cost management systems. These traditional costing systems are often unable to determine accurately the actual costs of production and of the costs of related services. Consequently managers were making decisions based on inaccurate data especially where there are multiple products. Instead of using broad arbitrary percentages to allocate costs, ABC seeks to identify cause and effect relationships to objectively assign costs. Once costs of the activities have been identified, the cost of each activity is attributed to each product to the extent that the product uses the activity. In this way ABC often identifies areas of high overhead costs per unit and so directs attention to finding ways to reduce the costs or to charge more for costly products. Activity based costing has grown in importance in recent decades because (1) manufacturing overhead costs have increased significantly, (2) the manufacturing overhead costs no longer correlate with the productive machine hours or direct labor hours, (3) the diversity of products and the diversity in customers' demands have grown, and (4) some products are produced in large batches, while others are produced in small batches. Illustration

Let's discuss activity based costing by looking at two products manufactured by the same company. Product 124 is a low volume item which requires certain activities such as special engineering, additional testing, and many machine setups because it is ordered in small quantities. A similar product, Product 366, is a high volume product—running continuously—and requires little attention and no special activities. If this company used traditional costing, it might allocate or "spread" all of its overhead to products based on the number of machine hours. This will result in little overhead cost allocated to Product 124, because it did not have many machine hours. However, it did demand lots of engineering, testing, and setup activities. In contrast, Product 366 will be allocated an enormous amount of overhead (due to all those machine hours), but it demanded little overhead activity. The result will be a miscalculation of each product's true cost of manufacturing overhead. Activity based costing will overcome this shortcoming by assigning overhead on more than the one activity, running the machine. Activity based...
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