Activity Based Costing Essay Research Paper The

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Activity Based Costing Essay, Research Paper The Use of Activity Based Costing By Joseph P. Milazzo Masters of Business Administration Hawaii Pacific University Fall 2000 Activity based costing (ABC) is a relative new way to allocate costs to specific processes and services. This system assures that the costs are accurately distributed to the products or services that generated them. ABC illustrates costs more accurately, giving management insight to the cost associated with certain business activities. ABC extends the decision-making skills of management by expanding on traditional costing (job order costing/process order costing) techniques. However, since ABC’s introduction in the 1980’s, many corporations are not using ABC, despite gained managerial decision making

capabilities. Even by the mid-1990s, ABC’s use has not spread throughout the accounting industry and its use is not obvious (Selto & Jasinski, 1996). The following article will discuss the pros and cons of the ABC method. Traditional Techniques ABC is an extension of traditional product costing techniques. These techniques are called job order costing and process order costing. A job order costing system arranges costs for each unit as it goes through a production process. A process cost system collects costs in work in progress account. The numbers of units worked are recorded for the accounting period. These systems alone do not accurately illustrate costs incurred. Instead, these two costing techniques generally lump costs into 3 main categories (cost centers). These

three categories are direct materials, direct labor and overhead. Cost drivers are then assigned to represent the relationship between the cost and the process it is allocated to. Activity Based Costing ABC provides a better map of the costs of manufacturing products or distributing services. ABC uses a multitude of activity centers, which are the equivalent to the previously mentioned traditional cost centers. Each of these activity centers has its own cost driver and driver rate. ABC identifies many different costs to products by adjusting the cost driver and driver rates to specific activity centers. This process avoids across the board allocations of cost. For example, a product, which takes up .03% of space in the warehouse, would require .03% cost absorbed by product sales

revenue. If the depreciation unit requires 5% cost to replace equipment at a latter date, 5% is the driver rate for that particular product. Unit, batch and product level costs can be determined with ABC. The following steps can summarize the ABC process. The first step is to identify the activities that consume resources and allocate costs to those activities. For example, purchasing materials, record keeping, labor, materials, miles driven, machine hours and number of customers served are activities, which consume resources and needs costs to be assigned to them. The second step is to distinguish the cost drivers that are related to each activity. For example, if machine hours an activity used in the process, then the number of hours used in production of one unit would be the

particular cost driver rate. The last step is to allocate costs to products by multiplying the cost driver rate by the number of cost driver units consumed by the process. Pros There are many inherent strengths in the ABC model. The ABC model allows costs to be allocated to many different activity centers. Few corporations can focus on undifferentiated product lines and be successful. Having multiple product lines means the company has multiple cost drivers associated with each different product line. ABC is helpful in selecting which products are successful and which ones should be eliminated. Accurate cost information is key in determining the actual costs of frequent product changes. This cost is important because costs can be a good indicator of the justification or