Alternative Methods of Product Costing

Costing systems differ along three dimensions, namely: the components being measured; what is included in product cost; and, the manner in which the cost are accumulated. The differences in costs emanate from the urge to incorporate or exclude certain forms of information in product costs. The differentials manifested between the approaches stem from the timing of the cost recognition whereby the core issue centers on when the fixed production costs become expenses. Eventually, both methods produce the same merged appraisal of total profit; nevertheless, there may be differences in short-term phase profit measures and stock valuations.

Basic approach to product costing normally incorporates assigning direct costs to products and allocating manufacturing overhead costs to products. The core product costing methods in this category include job costing and process costing. Job costing encompasses the transfer of outlays to a certain manufacturing job and may include contract costing and batch costing. Overhead is allocated to jobs and the approach is utilized when individual lots of products are distinctive, especially when the entities are billed directly to customers. Process costing infers the accumulation of labor, material, and overheads outlays across whole divisions or entities whereby the entire production cost being allocated to individual units. Process costing incorporates aspects such as operation costing, unit costing/output costing, service costing, and multiple/composite costing.

Alternative Product Costing

There is an overall concurrence as to the accounting treatment of key aspects such as product costs and of period costs; however, there is constantly a debate centering on what item costs should be billed as product costs. This is largely a case of designation of absorption costing (AC) and variable costing (VC)/ marginal costing) that embodies diverse approaches to product cost description and dimension, and consequently profit measurement. Absorption costing embodies the traditional approach that deems all production costs to be product costs. The accounting treatment of fixed production costs varies as per each approach. Hence, all the approaches deliver varied periodic stock valuation whereby in absorption costing, stocks remain valued at full cost of production while under VC; the stocks remain valued at variable production cost. Similarly, the methods may also yield to diverse periodic profit measurements.

Variable costing system incorporate direct material, direct labour, and the variable constituent of overhead within product cost. Fixed overhead, in this case, is treated as a period cost. Absorption costing system incorporates direct material, direct labour, and both the inconsistent and rigid elements of overhead in product cost. Factory overhead, in this case, is absorbed into the product cost.

Job Order Costing

Job order costing explores and establishes the outlay of individual jobs/batches. The direct material employed and the direct labor hours are accumulated for each job whereby manufacturing overhead is mainly applied as per the direct labor hours. One of the advantages of employing this approach is that the outlays of every job can be independently analyzed. If the actual cost was extremely high, the manager is at liberty of reviewing the actual material and labor costs to establish the reason for the surge. While job order costing can be an effective tool for some companies, it can create additional work tracking costs that may not necessarily add value.

Activity-Based Costing

Activity-based costing represents a managerial accounting method that approximates the outlay of products and services by apportioning overhead costs to direct costs. Activity based costing system represents a modified absorption costing system whereby the indirect outlays are outlined to their cost pools to reflect resource exploitation of indirect reserves by the cost object. Activity-based costing (ABC) represents a two-stage product costing method that first allocates costs to activities and then allots them to products based on the product’s consumption of activities. Activity-based costing mainly incorporates four steps: first, identifying the activities that consume resources and assign cost to them; second, outlining the cost drivers connected with every action; third, computing a cost rate per cost driver unit/transaction (each activity should possess multiple cost drivers); fourth, establishment of output metrics and conveying outlays to products in multiplying the outlay driver fee by the quantity of outlay driver units registered in the manufacturing of the product.

Since product mix has grown more diverse, activity based costing has evolved to become a useful tool. Activity-based costing allows managers to arrive at decisions by employing product outlay constituent that only covers those actions that add to the manufacturing of the product. Nevertheless, ABC demands more detailed analysis of the activities within the plant that require additional resources from the company. The key benefit of this approach is the potential to approximate the outlay of entity products and services precisely. ABC helps to underline wasteful or non-profitable ventures that impact on the productivity of the production processes.

Marginal Costing

Marginal costing is an approach that employs variable costs. Variable costs, in this case, embody those outlays that stay the identical per unit, but vary in sum as per the overall quantity of units manufactured. Fixed costs essentially remain the same in total irrespective of the number of units produced. Since variable costs are mainly controlled costs, marginal costing enables mangers to make decisions devoid of being swayed by uninhibited statistics such as fixed outlays. Marginal costing also embodies a valuable device to utilize when the entity business environment is extremely competitive. The product pricing can be engineered to recover the changeable outlays of the products. However, disregarding fixed outlays may modify the proceeds to recover overall outlays of the business.

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