Cost Accounting Is An Important Aspect Of Any Management Accounting Accounting

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The cost accounting is an of import facet of any direction accounting. It is extreme of import for endurance and profitableness of an administration to find the cost accurately for each cost unit.

The quotation marks presented in the given assignment shows the importance of one of such bing accounting method called activity-based costing ( ABC ) . The construct of ABC was studied from Durham MBA FCP Material and related mentions supplied.

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Initially, Cooper and Kaplan proposed Activity-based costing in Harvard Business Review. They term it as a radical construct in direction accounting that can be used to mensurate right cost for a merchandise or service. The ABC empowers director to plan & A ; lunch new merchandise, increasing profitableness on bing merchandises by efficaciously pull offing merchandise portfolios. Even to stop the bing non-profitable merchandise line.

The construct of ABC has, bit by bit, gained popularity in faculty members and direction histories since its origin. In last 20 old ages, it has matured and tonss of research done and broad cognition base available for its execution. In the undermentioned subdivisions, ABC is explored covering history, chief characteristic, execution and major critics.


The cost accounting is an of import facet of any direction accounting. It is extreme of import for endurance and profitableness of an administration to find the cost accurately for each cost unit. Directors with aid of cost accounting decide cost of merchandise and service and do strategic determination which can ensue into reduced operating cost and therefore better profitableness.

The quotation marks presented in the given assignment shows the importance of one of such bing accounting method called activity-based costing ( ABC ) .

In recent old ages, ABC has gained much popularity and has formed footing for effectual direction technique.

History of Activity based costing ( ABC )

Back land on Cost accounting

There was strong competition & A ; challenges faced by western companies particularly in electronics and automotive sectors by Nipponese companies like Toyota and Honda. The competition originally started with low-wage labor and undervalued currencies and so spanned on to advanced direction patterns such as just-in-time, quality, dependability facets of the concern ( Turnery 2008, p.3 ) .

The impacts of these challenges were terrible and the western companies started developing new direction patterns to counter balance. As portion of strategic move, new attacks on to be accounting were devised. The companies realized that the traditional cost accounting systems were inefficient to mensurate the true cost of a merchandise or service ( Turnery 2008, p.3 ) .

The costing systems are footing to find the production or service cost. Costss are reflecting the value of merchandise or service in units of currency. The cost accounting can be viewed as interpreting production activity and footing stuff cost into fiscal values ( wikipedia 2010 ) .

There are assorted managerial accounting attacks

Standard cost accounting

Thin accounting

Activity-based accounting

Resources ingestion accounting ( Wikipedia 2010 ) .

Activity-based costing ( ABC )

Traditional, cost histories methods were found in earlier industrial revolution period. The traditional methods were showing inaccurate cost computation because the manner indirect cost calculated. The new disputing environment demanded more relevant cost and public presentation information on concern activities as per Cooper and Kaplan ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

As per Cooper and Kaplan ( 1998 ) the companies requires enhanced cost system to:

Design & A ; tiffin merchandises and services run intoing client outlook and delivering net income ;

Decision devising in go oning or stoping of merchandise or service ;

Supplier direction ;

Negotiate monetary value, merchandise characteristics ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

The Activity based costing ( ABC ) an advanced attack in the merchandise bing estimation was developed in 1988. It is claimed that the ABC offers a sophisticated method accounting indirect cost ( Dixon 2003 ) . The activity based cost systems meet the demand for accurate information about cost of resources. The ABC method enable directors a clearer image of the economic sciences of the concern operation as stated by Cooper and Kaplan ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

Development of ABC to ABC/M

As per Turney, start of 1987, tonss of articles on activity-based costing appeared in Harvard Business reappraisal. The enthusiasm in ABC was at its extremum, there were many conference organised and study & A ; research conducted. Large confer withing houses started offering ABC patterns to their clients. The enthusiasm of ABC was taking into new construct of ABC/M ( Turnery 2008 ) .

In the period of 1991-1995, as per Turney, over-enthusiasm, limited execution cognition, complexness of finding activity, restriction in footings of support systems and some failures were showing the challenges to popularity of ABC ( Turnery 2008, p.5 ) .

The period of 1995-2000, Turney, termed this period as 2nd coevals of ABC and outgrowth of ABC/M. With engineering development, ABC execution becomes easier. The range of ABC widened beyond cost accounting and to countries such as disposal, selling, supply concatenation. Even the industry wise, it expanded into insurance, health care, banking, service industries & A ; public services and authorities ( Turnery 2008, p.6 ) .

The period of 2000-2006, Turnery termed this period as 3rd coevals of ABC. ABC penetrated into many industries and states. Many hunts and study claimed its broad spread usage as direction tool. The involvement in ABC was fuelled by several factors such as grounds of fiscal benefit, outgrowth of progress ABC package ( Turnery 2008 ) .

The rating of ABC leads to a new construct in direction accounting called activity-based direction. The Activity based direction is a method in which set of actions that can be taken depending upon result of activity-based cost information. ABM mostly relies on execution of ABC in an administration. The truth of ABC is of import to do right determinations ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

Anthony and Govindarajan ( 2007 ) , argue that computerisation and mechanization are chief drivers behind alterations in systems for roll uping & A ; use cost information ( Anthony and Govindarajan 2007, p.341 ) .


Main characteristics and mechanics of ABC/M

ABM is accurate cost accounting system with public presentation sweetening procedure. It can be considered as a system that can be used to right find the full costs of services and merchandises. Under procedure position, it can be said to explicate the public presentation indexs for the end product of each activity Centre ( Trussel and Bitner 1998, p.441-442 ) .

As per Trussel and Bitner, the two of import facets of ABC/M can be summarised in following figure ( Trussel and Bitner 1998, p.442 ) .

Figure 1. Activity-based direction

( Beginning: Trussel and Bitner, 1998, p.442 )

The cost position helps to find cost of a merchandise or service & A ; the procedure position helps to estimate the public presentation ( Trussel and Bitner 1998, p.441 ) .

ABM system is two-stage procedure. The first phase is to delegate resource cost to activities so delegating activities cost to objects. All undertakings are aggregated in each activity Centre. The 2nd phase the costs of activity Centres are traced to objects as per Trussel and Bitner ( Trussel and Bitner 1998, p.441 ) .

ABC/M Implementation

As per Cooper and Kaplan ( 1998 ) , ABM consists of two complementary attacks ; operational and strategic ABM as show in following figure ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

Figure 2. Using ABM for operational Improvements and Strategic Decisions

( Beginning: Kaplan and Cooper, 1998 )

Operational ABM

Operational ABM is making things right. Operational attack focuses on increasing efficiency, take downing operating disbursals. Operational ABM helps to cut down downtime, effectual usage of resources like equipment and people & A ; extinguishing unproductive activities ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

Operational ABM takes demand for resources as given and concentrate on cut downing disbursement or increasing production so that effectual usage of resources like physical, human and on the job capital could be achieved ( Kaplan and Cooper, 1998 ) .

As per Kaplan and Cooper ( 1998 ) , Benefits of operation ABM are

Effective usage of resources like physical, human and on the job capital ;

Researching possibility of higher gross ;

Cost turning away by efficaciously utilizing available resources and therefore cut downing passing avenues ;

Concentrating on operational procedure and increasing procedure efficiencies ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

Strategic ABM

Strategic ABM is making the right things. Strategic attack is an efforts to change the demand for cost activities such that profitableness sweetening from that merchandise or service occurs. There is underlying premise that that activity efficiency remains changeless for merchandises ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

There could be some merchandises or services whose production cost are higher than the earned gross. Strategic ABM enable alining the resources such that cost driver demand for such unprofitable activities can be reduced. The ABC theoretical account helps to find which merchandises or services are extremely profitable and when. The information obtained from ABC application can be used by gross revenues or selling directors to aline their merchandise or service portfolios to do more net income for administration. The ABC information can besides be used to take low-priced providers ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

Strategic ABM farther even plays really of import function in design and development stage. It is really critical for success of a merchandise or service to acquire initial effectual designs. The many merchandises or services fail after tiffin, chiefly due to initial design and development issues. There besides chance exists to do usage of companies ‘ strengths or bing resources in initial design stage. The right determination on design and development can convey biggest competitory advantage to administration. It besides helps to accomplish cost turning away and cost decrease. The ABC application will supply right information to do right determinations. Therefore, ABC contributes significantly in administration scheme ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

With traditional cost accounting methods, merchandise interior decorators and proficient staff will have faulty signals about economic sciences of the merchandise under development. The traditional cost methods provides unequal and wrong cost information, taking to incorrect determinations in footings of utilizing alone versus common parts, utilizing new seller or bing and utilizing simple versus complex production methods ( Kaplan and Cooper1998 ) .

The wrong cost systems may supply overestimated cost of direct and indirect cost and thereby doing company to make overinvestment or drop the new program. The overinvestment may necessitate more internal financess or procuring loans. Therefore, initial incorrect cost system information can falsify the concern & A ; fiscal program of a company ( Kaplan and Cooper 1998 ) .

Execution of ABC/M

There has been batch of confusion & A ; misconception around Activity based direction and its execution ( Dixon, 2003 ) . Many critics of ABC province that there are many allotment theoretical accounts & A ; the sector specific theoretical accounts. The execution of ABC more confusing and necessitating more computing machine based package. As per the Gosselin ( 1997, p.106 ) , studies have shown that the execution of ABC non so intense. Some house have stopped execution of ABC or delayed. As per the Gosselin ( 1997 ) , ABC is considered a degree of activity direction ( AM ) . He classified AM into three basic classs called activity analysis, activity cost analysis and ABC as shown in following figure ( Gosselin 1997, p.106 ) .

Figure 3. Activity-based direction

( Beginning: Gosselin, 1997 )

As shown in the figure, out of three degrees, the outer degree is activity analysis degree and the inner most concluding degree is Activity based costing. Each degree requires the old phase to be completed as a requirement ( Gosselin 1997, p.106 ) .

The first degree activity analysis degree consists of activities & A ; process findings that can be used to bring forth end product utilizing input resources. The activities which do no contribute to the end product are non considered. AA is considered to be a requirement of using Activity based costing system ( Gosselin 1997, p.107 ) .

Gosselin describes ACA as “ adds the procedure of explicating the structural determiners of the costs of the activities ” ( Gosselin 1997, p.107 ) . This degree referred by many writers as cost driver analysis as per Gosselin. ACA helps to find the cost of each activity & A ; impacting factors. After elaborate analysis of this degree the directors can acquire better understanding on activities that can change the cost. They can take suited actions to cut down the consequence of cost drivers. This besides enables companies to prioritise the desire alterations ( Gosselin 1997, p.107 ) .

The nucleus degree is ABC. ABC enables to find the cost of merchandise and service. It offers elaborate analysis to place the cost for each cost drivers. The whole procedure through AA, ACA and ABC can be viewed as a two-stage allotment procedure as described in Durham MBA survey stuff ( Dixon 2003, p.11 ) and illustrated in the undermentioned figure. The first phase is readying of activity-based cost pools. The 2nd of ABC is using pooled costs to merchandises by following all activities involved in bring forthing that merchandise ( Dixon 2003, p.11 ) .

Figure 4. The Activity-Costing Model. From AA to ABC

( Beginning: Dixon, 2003 Durham MBA Material FPC )

The reversal of the whole procedure shown in the above figure, provides directors with chance to see frontward resource demands during budgeting procedure. Reversal will change over the ABC resource usage analysis into a resource supply one. The Activity Analysis besides provides better visibleness and legitimacy to the initial budget blessing procedure ( Dixon 2003, p.11 ) .

If organisation decide to follow AM attack, several key determinations has to be made. The foremost of these determinations are necessary preparations for directors and comptrollers. A confer withing house can besides be hired and required ABC computing machine package can be purchased or developed in house. The responsible designated histories and directors will hold to place activities & A ; prepare activity cost pools. Then choosing appropriate cost drivers to specific cost objects. These readying stages of ABC consist of AA and ACA. This stage will show chance to tauten to rethink determinations made earlier on. Gosselin add further, some administration may halt further execution based on the result of AA and ACA degrees ( Gosselin 1997, p.107 ) .

Activity based attacks can besides be integrated with other concern models and enterprises, such as the balanced scorecard. Activity-based attacks can besides be integrated with other fabricating doctrines like Just-in clip ( JIT ) ( Dixon 2003, p.12 ) . .ABC could besides be used in concurrence with the Porter ‘s ‘Value Chain ‘ or ‘value curve ‘ as show in following figure ( Dixon 2003, p.13 ) .

Figure 5. The value Curve

( Beginning: Dixon, 2003 Durham MBA Material FPC ) .

These can be used to analyze and detect new client value propositions ( Dixon, 2003, p.13 ) .

Exclusion of few costs

Cooper & A ; Kaplan suggest that some costs demands to be excluded while working on activity-based costing. In their paper, they identified two of such costs ; viz. costs of extra capacity and research & A ; development costs ( Cooper and Kaplan1988, p.101-102 ) .

They farther added that the costs of extra capacity should non be accounted to single merchandises. With illustration, they demonstrated that one production works with capacity of 1 million units per twelvemonth with $ 5 million as entire one-year costs sum. Hence, cost per unit is $ 5. The cost of surplus or idle point capacity should b treated as a separate line point than the costs applied to single merchandises. However, with traditional methods if demand cut down to 0.5 million units, so the cost of each unit will be $ 10. This comes to play even without workers or machine holding executing at the same rate. This shows that in traditional bing the merchandise cost fluctuate with alterations in premise of production volume. This can do so called ‘death spiral ‘ with decrease in forecast demand. The less demand will do ideal capacity and hence higher reported cost per merchandise resulting in even loss of future merchandise demand ( Cooper and Kaplan 1988, p.101 ) .

The 2nd point Cooper and Kaplan suggested is research and development cost. The research and development costs arise from innovation or betterment of new merchandise. They recommend spliting R & A ; D costs into two classs a ) Cost caused by betterments and alteration of a merchandise. B ) Cost caused by invention of wholly new merchandises. They suggested that the first cost should be added to the merchandise which gets benefit of betterment. Else, this cost could falsify other merchandises cost computation that did non acquire benefit from betterment of R & A ; D plan. The 2nd cost which is of invention of new merchandise is treated by fiscal accounting experts as a cost of the period in which it takes topographic point. The accounting experts treat this cost as investings for better hereafter concern chance. For the merchandise with short life rhythms, R & A ; D cost should be spread across the life rhythm of the merchandise. This could misdirect the appraisal of merchandise profitableness ( Cooper and Kaplan 1988, p.102 ) .

Consequence of Strategic direction on Execution

The scheme plays cardinal function in success of any administration. The SBUs make up one’s mind to travel for AM attack based on their demands to hold better information on activities and their in bend costs. The information will assist them to find their impact on merchandise cost and merchandise profitableness. Gosselin ( 1997 ) describes the prospectors are administrations which are extremely active in seeking and researching new market chance. Hence, a prospector needs information on wider scope footing ( Gosselin 1997, p.119 ) .

Cooper & A ; Kaplan ( 1988 ) present the strategic deduction of ABC, with aid of illustrations ; Cooper & A ; Kaplan show how activity-based cost system can show different ratings of merchandise costs and profitableness in comparing to traditional attacks. ABC helps to find unprofitable merchandises or services and enable house to stop them. Business director are equipped with more relevant cost information and hence they can make up one’s mind on scope of strategic options. Discontinuing unprofitable merchandises or service is one of the schemes. They found that many low-volume merchandises have low monetary value snaps. Customers with particular demand will be willing to pay excess monetary value for houses ‘ merchandises. The clients may besides respond to a monetary value addition and they may desert to rivals. Hence, company may free gross on some points. Cooper & A ; Kaplan pointed out that more accurate cost information provides more strategic options for high-volume merchandises. Directors could take several profit-enhancing actions after having input of revised cost informations by distribution channels. The director explore new market section where the house got competitory advantage and house can bring forth at lesser cost than the selling costs ( Cooper and Kaplan 1988, p.102 ) .

Cooper & A ; Kaplan besides suggested that the information derived by using activity-based cost system can do companies to redesign their merchandises and promote working bing resources or utilizing common parts. The common parts bring advantage of versatility and easy handiness. On the supply side, these parts may already be sourced from present seller. Manager can promote their technology to modify or redesign the parts or utilize common parts such that cost and complexness can be reduced. This can merely possible if company ‘s cost system can place the benefits to redesign merchandises. The activity-based costing techniques can assist to quantify the ensuing benefits of parts standardisation ( Cooper and Kaplan 1988, p.103 ) .

Similarly, activity-based bing operational facets can enable troughs to measure new proficient procedure. It helps directors to streamlining the procedure to cut down apparatus times, revisiting works layout for better stuff handlings and heightening the merchandise quality such that station production reviews, bundle, hive awaying and after sale support can be reduced to minimal. These decrease will further convey cost save. Advanced Computer-integrated fabrication can besides be introduced for some specific merchandise fabrication. Activity-based costing helps directors make right determinations about merchandise or service design, pricing, selling ( Cooper and Kaplan 1988, p.103 ) .

Empirical surveies of ABC

Many study and empirical surveies have been conduct to acquire some penetration into the version of ABC in existent universe. In malice of high involvement of faculty members and concern comptrollers, ABC has non been implemented widely into industries ( Gosselin1997, p.118 ) .

Gosselin ( 1997 ) findings indicate that the acceptance and execution of AM attack relied upon several factors. The scheme of administration will make up one’s mind the demand for invention in activity direction. Studies show that the prospector administration are advanced, they tend to follow inventions in accounting & A ; operational direction. The result shows that administration construction plays a critical function in the taking type of AM attacks. The houses with higher perpendicular distinction tend to follow ABC. Some experts argued that the some administrations stopped ABC execution at the degree of AA or ACA. The result of Gosselin ( 1997 ) survey shows that the administration with centralized construction or more formal tend to implement ABC in contrast to decentralised and less formal administration. The consequences infer that scheme and organizational construction affect determinations sing AM theoretical account choice and its execution. Firms believing in viing through invention tend to be more unfastened to new thoughts which can convey advantage to house. Directors of such houses improve procedures and enhance profitableness. Therefore, Gosselin believe that the prospectors steadfast adopt AM attacks. The farther survey reveals that firm that adopt AM attacks irrespective of their nature of strategic manner, the type of AM model selected does non differ significantly ( Gosselin 1997, p.118,119 ) .

Harmonizing to Gosselin, the organizational construction influences the choice of type of AM attack. He added that the mechanistic houses prefer formal systems in comparing to organic house. Therefore, mechanistic house select ABC which is more formal accounting system at the same clip organic prefer AA or ACA. This besides gets some formal support from Gosselin surveies. Gosselin besides pointed out that the grade of perpendicular distinction is straight proportionate to the acceptance of ABC ( Gosselin1997, p.119 ) .

The consequences of his survey besides confirm that in mechanistic houses, committed director can aline all resources to guarantee that execution will be a successful and command the whole execution procedure ( Gosselin 1997, p.119 ) .

Critics of ABC

Activity-based approached have been criticised by many experts. As per Turney ( 2008 ) , there are much confusion predominating about method itself, many theoretical accounts, method restriction and unequal back uping systems and some good know failure made the ABC unpopular during 1991-1995 ( Turnery 2008, p.5 ) .

As stated by Turney, some experts termed ABC as inconsistent with of import fabrication constructs like uninterrupted betterment and entire quality direction. They commented that ABC does non turn to client focal point demand which is cardinal to success of any concern in competitory universe. It is non process oriented every bit good. It does non accomplish employee engagement and much more of top down attack. Other cantonment of experts argued its incompatibility with the theory of restraints ( Turnery 2008, p.5 ) .

The much of these unfavorable judgments shows a misconception around aim of ABC. The aim of ABC was non to supply day-to-day counsel on the procedure and quality while bring forthing goods or service. The immatureness of initial ABC approached besides contributed towards its unfavorable judgment. Other factor contributed much towards its unpopularity was equal computing machine based engineering invention in that epoch. The computing machine package or processors were non powerful to manage such complex algorithms. The initial ABC computing machine package was much BASIC. Furthermore, the ABC methods of that clip were hard to implement and incorporate as whole package ( Turnery 2008, p.5 ) .

The survey shows that there were instances where in ABC failed because of hapless execution cognition within that administration. Directors and comptroller responsible for ABC did non hold plenty cognition to implement ABC. In some instances, directors were non trained and non equipped with right resources. In the clip period from 1991 to 1995, involvement in ABC declined, the houses started researching other tools like endeavor resource planning ( ERP ) system, balance scorecard, and concern procedure reengineering ( Turnery 2008, p.5 ) .

Some critics footings ABC as merely another method of thinking overhead allotment for ciphering the full costs. While some critics footings as ABC promise for fight but normally misleads in finding the cost of a merchandise or service. ABC is besides criticised to ill-consider the activities associating to constrained resources ( Dixon 2003, p.13 ) . Firms may misdirect to halt dearly-won activities in hunt for alternate methods and damaging quality of the merchandise or service. The quality debasement, sometime, consequences into merchandise or service failure. In such instances, ABC fails on dependability standards.

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