Cost Accounting Meaning

Cost accounting is a form of cost managerial accounting that attempts to capture a company’s overall cost of production by measuring variable costs of each stage of production as well as fixed costs, such as a lease charge.

Cost Accounting Definition

Cost accounting is the practice of tracking, reviewing, and documenting any of a company’s (variable and fixed) costs associated with the manufacture of a commodity. So that a company’s managers can make better strategic decisions, implement efficiencies, and reliably budget. Cost accounting aims to increase the company’s net profit margins (how much profit each dollar of sales generates).

What is meant by Cost Accounting [Understanding Cost Accounting]

The internal audit committee of a business uses cost accounting to determine both contingent and fixed costs involved with the manufacturing process. It will first calculate and report all costs separately, then compare production costs to output results to help measure financial success and make future business decisions.

Types of Costs

Fixed costs Costs that do not differ with the amount of demand. These are usually interest or leasing payments on a house or a piece of machinery that is depreciated at a set monthly rate. These costs will not change if output volumes increased or decreased.
Variable costs Costs that are related to a company’s level of output. A floral store, for example, that is increasing the floral arrangement inventory for Valentine’s Day would experience higher prices as it orders an additional number of flowers from the nearest nursery or garden center.
Operating costs  Costs involved with a company’s day-to-day activities. Depending on the circumstances, these prices can be fixed or variable.
Direct costs Costs are directly connected to the manufacture of a commodity. If a coffee roaster roasts coffee for five hours, the direct costs of the final product include the roaster’s work hours as well as the cost of the coffee beans.
Indirect costs Costs that are not strictly related to a commodity. The energy cost to heat the roaster in the coffee roaster example will be indirect because it is inexact and impossible to track particular items.

Cost Accounting Vs Financial Accounting

Although cost accounting is often used by management within a business to help in decision-making, financial accounting is usually used by outside investors or creditors. Financial accounting communicates a company’s financial status and results to outside sources through financial statements that provide details about its sales, expenditures, assets, and liabilities. Cost accounting can be most useful as a method for management in budgeting and setting up cost savings systems that can increase the company’s net margins in the future.

One significant distinction between cost accounting and financial accounting is that, while in financial accounting, costs are categorized based on the type of transaction, cost accounting classifies costs based on the knowledge needs of management. Since cost accounting is used as an internal instrument for management, it is not required to follow any uniform standard such as commonly agreed accounting standards (GAAP), and, as a result, its uses differ from business to company or department to department.

Types of Cost Accounting

Standard Costing

Standard costing applies “standard” costs to the cost of product delivered (COGS) and inventory rather than individual costs. The basic costs are based on the most effective use of labor and resources to manufacture the product or service in normal operating conditions, and they are effectively the budgeted number.

Even though regular prices are allocated to the products, the company must nevertheless pay individual costs. Variance analysis is the process of determining the difference between the normal (efficient) expense and the real cost incurred.

The variance is unfavorable if the variance analysis concludes that real costs are greater than predicted. The variation is positive if it concludes that the real costs are smaller than predicted. A beneficial or unfavorable variation can be caused by two causes. There is the cost of the input, which includes labor and supplies.

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Activity-Based Costing

Activity-based costing (ABC) defines and transfers overhead costs from each department to real expense items such as products or services. The ABC cost accounting system is focused on operations, which are described as any operation, unit of work, or activity with a particular purpose, such as setting up manufacturing equipment, developing items, delivering finished goods, or running machines. These operations are often regarded as expense generators, and they serve as the foundation for allocating operating costs.

Lean Accounting

The primary aim of lean accounting is to enhance an organization’s financial reporting activities. Lean accounting is an application of the lean manufacturing and development theory, which has the stated goal of reducing waste while maximizing efficiency.

Marginal Costing

Marginal costing (also known as cost-volume-profit analysis) is the effect on a product’s cost of adding one more unit to output. It is beneficial for making short-term economic choices. The use of marginal costing will assist managers in determining the effect of differing amounts of cost and volume on operating performance. Management may use this method of research to obtain insight into potentially lucrative new products, pricing rates to set for current products, and the effects of marketing strategies.

Cost Accounting – FAQs

Q1. What are some of the disadvantages of cost accounting?

The development and implementation of cost accounting schemes and methods can be expensive. It takes time and effort to train accounting personnel and managers on esoteric and sometimes complex processes, and errors can occur early on. When comparing a cost accounting scheme or a generic accounting system, higher-skilled accountants and auditors are expected to demand more for their services.

Q2. What are some of the benefits of cost accounting?

Cost accounting approaches are highly scalable and adaptable since they are created and customized to a single firm. Managers value cost accounting since it can be customized, tweaked, and applied to meet the evolving needs of the market. Unlike financial accounting, which is driven by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), expense accounting is mainly concerned with insiders and internal uses. Management will interpret information based on particular principles that it values, guiding how costs are set, services are allocated, money is generated, and risks are assumed.

Q3. What kinds of charges are accounted for in cost accounting?

This will differ from industry to industry and company to firm, but some expense groups (some of which may overlap) may usually be included, such as direct costs, indirect costs, discretionary costs, fixed costs, and running costs.

Q4. What is the purpose of cost accounting?

Cost accounting is useful because it will show where a company’s income is being used, how much it is earning, and where it is being wasted. Cost management seeks to report on, assess, and enhance internal cost controls and performance. Even though cost accounting estimates cannot be used in financial documents or for tax purposes, they are critical for internal controls.

Q5. What distinguishes cost accounting from conventional accounting methods?

In comparison to general or financial accounting, the cost accounting approach is a firm-specific, internally-focused methodology used to enforce cost controls. When it comes to cost subdivision and inventory assessment, cost accounting should be even more fluid and precise. Cost accounting processes and procedures differ from company to company and can become very complicated.