METHODS OF COST ACCOUNTING INTRODUCTION The Meaning of Cost Cost is a measure of the sacrifice or forgoing of a scarce resource to achieve a specific objective. An organization sacrifices scarce resources, i. e. the purchase cost, in order to obtain other resources. A cost is usually measured in terms of money paid to acquire goods or services. One can observe that the term cost is rarely used without an adjective in front of it. The term ‘Cost’ has multiple meanings and different types of costs are used in different situations.
Therefore a preceding term must be added to clarify the assumptions that underlie a cost measurement. Examples include variable cost, average cost, total cost, fixed cost, opportunity cost and sunk cost. A few types of costs are as given below: * Total Costs and Average Costs: Total cost includes the cost of all resources acquired or used by an organization during a specified time period. In certain decisions, calculating the unit cost is imperative. A unit cost, also called the average cost, is computed by dividing the total cost of the product by the related number of units.
Units may be expressed in different ways. Unit costs are regularly used in financial reports. However, in organizations with different products and services, unit cost usually is not a meaningful number for making decisions about the uses of capacity. For example, the company may be profitable overall (i. e. unit selling price exceeds unit cost) it still may be carrying some very unprofitable products (e. g. cost of resources used exceeds sales revenues). * Manufacturing Costs: Manufacturing costs are the costs associated with the production of goods.
They include three cost categories: direct material, direct labor and manufacturing overhead. * Non-Manufacturing Costs: These costs can be defined as all the costs that are not associated with the production of goods. These costs typically include selling as well as general and administrative costs. * Direct Cost: A direct cost is a cost that can be easily and conveniently traced to a particular cost object under consideration. The term cost tracing is used to describe the assignment of direct costs to the particular cost object. Indirect Cost: This is a cost that cannot be easily and conveniently traced to the particular cost object under consideration. A particular cost may be direct or indirect depending on the cost object. While the salary of plant manager is a direct cost of the plant, it is an indirect cost of manufacturing cars. * Variable Costs: Variable costs are the costs that vary, in total, in direct proportion to changes in the level of activity. Variable costs increase or decrease in response to the increase or decrease in the level of business activity. Fixed Costs: Fixed costs are costs that do not change with changes in the level of business activity. As the activity level increases and decreases, the fixed costs remain constant in total amount unless influenced by external factors, such as price change. * Product Costs: Product costs are those costs that are involved in acquiring or making a product. In case of manufactured goods, these costs consist of direct material, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead. * Opportunity Cost: Opportunity cost is the potential benefit that is forgone when one alternative is selected over another.
Opportunity cost is not usually entered in the accounting records, but it is a cost that must be considered in every decision a manager makes since every alternative has some opportunity cost attached to it. * Sunk Cost: A sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and that cannot be changed by current or future action. Since sunk costs cannot be changed by any decisions, they should be ignored when making a decision. JOB COSTING AND PROCESS COSTING METHODS There are two basic types of costing systems that the companies can adopt- Job costing and Process costing systems.
Job Costing relates to a costing system that is required in organizations where each unit or batch of output of a product or service is unique. This creates a need for the cost of each unit to be calculated separately. The term ‘job’ thus relates to each unique unit or batch of output. Job costing systems are used in industries that provide customized products or services. For example, accounting firms provide customized services to the clients with each client requiring services that consume different quantities of resources. Engineering companies often make machines to meet individual customer specifications.
The contracts undertaken by construction and civil engineering companies differ greatly for each customer. In contrast, Process Costing relates to those situations where masses of identical units are produced and it is unnecessary to assign costs to individual units of output, Products are produced in the same manner and consume the same amount of direct costs and overheads. It is therefore unnecessary to assign costs to individual units of output. Instead, the average cost per unit of output is calculated by dividing the total costs assigned to a product or service for a period by the number of units of output for that period.
Industries where process costing is widely used include chemical processing, oil refining, food processing and brewing. Examples of both types of companies in the Indian context: Unique product/serviceIdentical items of product/service Job Costing| Process Costing| Balaji Telefilms| Balrampur Chini| Blue Dart Express| Tata Power Company| Vaibhav Gems| ONGC| Aptech| Deccan Gold Mine| JOB COSTING IN MANUFACTURING One of the purposes of measuring current and past product costs is to provide information for financial statements. Under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), product costs must be assigned to inventory.
Then, when products are sold, the cost is transferred to cost of goods sold. This practice allows inventory to be reported at cost on the balance sheet, and cost of goods sold to be matched against revenues on the income statement. Thus, job costing in a manufacturing organization assigns costs first to inventory and then to cost of goods sold when jobs are completed and sold Cost Flows in a Manufacturing Job Costing System Tracing and Allocating Product Costs to Jobs To measure the cost of individual jobs, job costing systems typically include a subsidiary ledger.
As shown in exhibit above, direct costs are traced and overhead costs are allocated to each job. Total work in process (WIP) is equal to the sum of the accumulated costs for all jobs in the subsidiary ledger. Assigning Direct Costs Accounting records are used to trace the costs of direct materials and direct labor to each job. For example, suppose that Aluminum Benders, Inc. , produces aluminum vents for heating and cooling systems. The company works with contractors on large commercial buildings. Each job requires different styles and lengths of vents and joints.
Therefore, the company uses job costing. Work is performed in two different departments: machining and assembly. Source documents are manual or electronic records created to capture and provide information about transactions or events. For example, the direct labor employees at Aluminum Benders create daily time reports that show the time they spend on individual jobs. The accounting department uses the time reports to calculate employee pay and to trace direct labor hours to individual jobs. As shown in exhibit above, each time report may include several different jobs.
Similarly, when materials such as sheet metal or metal joints are requisitioned for each job, they are tracked in the accounting system using the materials requisition form shown in exhibit above. The cost and activity information gathered from source documents is used to record costs in a subsidiary ledger for each new job. This record is called a job cost record and contains all of the costs traced and assigned to a specific job, as shown in exhibit above. At Aluminum Benders, the cost per unit of direct materials is obtained from the company’s raw materials inventory records.
The hourly rate of pay for each employee is obtained from payroll records. Other companies may use an estimated, budgeted, or standard cost for direct materials and direct labor. The sample job cost record shown in exhibit above includes the direct costs of work performed on Job 482 in Aluminum Benders’ Machining Department. The record is not yet complete; only some materials and labor have been recorded thus far, and the indirect costs have not yet been allocated. Aluminum Benders’ job costing system calculates summary costs (totals for direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead by department) on each job cost record.
The detailed information in the job cost record and the totals in work in process inventory are updated as new costs are incurred, until the job is completed. Computerized and Manual Job Costing Systems Maintaining the detailed job cost records shown in exhibit below, it can be time-consuming and prone to clerical error. Therefore, job cost records are often part of a software package. Job Cost Record for Aluminum Benders Direct labor and direct material data are entered into electronic source documents (on-line time records and material requisitions).
From there, the data are automatically posted into the job cost record and the general ledger system. This approach allows managers to immediately view job costs even before the job is completed. Specialized software packages are most likely to be used in large organizations or in businesses where jobs are complex or require many resources. In small businesses, job cost records may be tied less formally to the general ledger system. Instead of using source documents to track direct costs, organizations may use a manual job cost record to track direct costs for individual jobs.
The job sheet is physically attached to an individual job. As materials and direct labor hours are added to the job, the amounts are recorded on the sheet. An artist might use this method when producing crafts and art pieces. Carpenters and home contractors also frequently use this method to monitor direct costs. Amounts from the job cost sheet are recorded in the job cost record in the subsidiary ledger on a periodic basis, when the job is complete, or sometimes as resources are used. ALLOCATING OVERHEAD Overhead includes all production costs except direct materials and direct labor.
Allocating overhead to individual products is a two-stage process. In the first stage, a variety of overhead costs are collected in an overhead cost pool. A cost pool is a group of individual costs that are accumulated for a particular purpose. In the second stage, costs are allocated from the cost pool to individual jobs. Successful completion of the two stages requires four steps as follows. 1. Identify the relevant cost object. 2. Identify one or more overhead cost pools and allocation bases. 3. For each overhead cost pool, calculate an overhead allocation rate. 4.
For each overhead cost pool, allocate costs to the cost object. 1. Identify the relevant cost object. In a job costing system, the cost object is a job. Sometimes a job consists of an individual product, and sometimes it consists of a batch of products. For example, a job at a Bombardier completion center consists of the exterior and interior completion of one Learjet. A job at Aluminum Benders consists of a large number of aluminum vents required for a specific building. 2. Identify one or more overhead cost pools and allocation bases. Overhead costs are accumulated in one or more cost pools.
Some organizations use a single company-wide or plantwide cost pool for all fixed and variable overhead costs. Other organizations use separate cost pools for fixed and variable overhead costs. Fixed overhead includes costs such as production management salaries and space rental. Variable overhead includes any cost that varies with activity levels, such as supplies and, sometimes, electricity. If work is performed in separate departments or work areas, separate overhead cost pools may be designated for each department or activity. Accountants use judgment in choosing the number and type of verhead cost pools for a given organization. The choice of overhead cost pools depends on the organization of production, the nature of overhead costs, and the usefulness of different types of overhead information to management. For example, Bombardier’s Wichita completion center has two paint booths, two sand-and-strip areas, four preparation areas, and an interior mock-up room. Each work area might be under the supervision of a different manager who is responsible for controlling costs. The use of separate overhead cost pools for each area would help top management monitor the performance of area managers.
Alternatively, a single manager might oversee multiple work areas. If one manager is responsible for the exterior paint operation, overhead costs might be combined for the two paint booths. Organizations are also more likely to use different overhead cost pools for different types of work activities. For example, exterior painting is a different type of activity from preparation work such as installing carpeting, seating, and wiring. It is appropriate to use different cost pools when the nature or level of overhead costs differs across activities.
For each overhead cost pool, an allocation base is chosen to assign overhead costs to cost objects. If some portion of an overhead cost pool varies with a cost driver, it can be used as the allocation base. For example, the cost of some employee benefits varies with labor hours and labor costs. Indirect costs such as supplies in a paint area may vary with machine use. For cost pools that consist only of variable costs or a mixture of fixed and variable costs, accountants use allocation bases that are likely to affect at least a portion of the costs.
For a fixed overhead cost pool, accountants choose an allocation base that is related to activities even though fixed costs are not expected to vary with the allocation base. Manufacturing job costing systems frequently allocate overhead using one of the following bases: * Direct labor hours * Direct labor costs * Machine hours 3. For each overhead cost pool, calculate an overhead allocation rate. The allocation rate is the dollar amount per unit of allocation base used to allocate overhead to each cost object. (In a job costing system, each job is a cost object. If we know the total amount of overhead cost and the total quantity of the allocation base, the actual overhead allocation rate is calculated as follows: Actual allocation rate = Actual Overhead Cost/Actual Quantity of allocation base Alternatively, overhead may be allocated using an estimated allocation rate. To compute an estimated rate for the next period, we estimate total overhead costs and the total quantity of the allocation base, and then calculate the rate as follows: Estimated allocation rate = Estimated Overhead cost/Estimated Quantity of allocation base
Suppose we estimate overhead costs for Bombardier’s exterior painting areas as $216,000 for the next three months and the hours paint employees will work as 5,400. If we use direct labor hours to allocate overhead costs, then the overhead allocation rate will be $216,000 /5,400 hours = $40 per direct labor hour Partial Job Cost Record Showing Overhead Allocation for Aluminum Benders 4. For each overhead cost pool, allocate costs to the cost object. We allocate overhead costs by multiplying the overhead allocation rate times the quantity of the allocation base used by each job.
In the previous example, we calculated the painting area’s overhead allocation rate to be $40 per direct labor hour. When an exterior painting job requires 64 direct labor hours, the overhead cost allocation is 64 direct labor hours * $40 per direct labor hour = $2,560 The overhead rate is also useful when completion center managers need to prepare bids for new jobs. Once the labor hours are estimated for a bid, the estimated allocation rate is used to estimate overhead cost for the job. Software packages that trace direct costs to jobs can also automatically allocate overhead.
Suppose labor cost is used to allocate overhead. As the software package records labor costs in specific job cost records, overhead is allocated to the job at the same time. However, the accounting department might need to create a source document to gather the allocation base information (such as machine hours) needed to allocate overhead costs. Data for direct labor hours and direct labor costs are automatically collected for payroll calculations, but specific details about each job’s use of labor or machine hours need to be recorded by job in a job costing system.
Appropriate data about machine hour usage might not be available unless special records are maintained. For Aluminum Benders, suppose overhead in the machining department is allocated using machine hours. The company’s accountants created an on-line system so that the machine operator records the machine hours used for each job. If three machine hours are recorded for Job 482 and the overhead is allocated based on an estimated allocation rate of $56. 00 per machine hour, then the computer automatically allocates $168. 0 in machining department overhead to Job 482, as shown in exhibit above. Actual and Normal Costing Under actual costing, overhead is allocated using the actual volume of the allocation base times the actual allocation rate. Because managers often need cost information before total actual cost and resource use information is available at the end of the period, estimates are typically used to allocate overhead. When the estimated allocation rate and actual quantity of the allocation base are used to allocate overhead, as in the preceding example, the method is called normal costing.
Information from normal costing systems is used to prepare interim income statements, manage costs, and estimate costs for bids throughout a period. Exhibit below compares actual costing and normal costing. Under both methods, actual direct materials and direct labor are traced to each job. Following is a more complete example of the normal costing method for Aluminum Benders. Similarities and Differences between Actual and Normal Costing GENERAL LEDGER ENTRIES FOR A MANUFACTURER The general ledger in a manufacturer’s job costing system typically includes separate inventory accounts for raw materials, work in process, and finished oods. These accounts are illustrated in exhibit below, which shows the entries that would be used by Aluminum Benders for Job 482. Purchases of raw materials (not illustrated) are recorded in the raw materials inventory account. As direct materials are traced to a job, the cost of the materials is transferred to T-Accounts and Journal Entries for Job 482 work in process inventory (entries 1 and 4). Some types of direct materials, such as supplies, are not traced to individual jobs when they are used; these costs are transferred into an overhead cost pool.
However, this situation is not illustrated in exhibit above. As direct labor employees report their work time, the cost of their wages is debited to the jobs they work on and wages payable is credited for the wages earned (entries 2 and 5). Many organizations use overhead cost control accounts to monitor the costs for each overhead cost pool. As actual overhead costs are incurred, they are debited to the control account. For example, the assembly department supervisor’s salary would be debited to the assembly department overhead cost control and credited to wages payable.
Overhead allocated to individual jobs is debited to work in process and credited to the control account (entries 3 and 6). When a job is complete, the work in process account includes all of the direct material, direct labor, and overhead costs that have been assigned to the job. The total cost can then be transferred to finished goods inventory (entry 7). Finally, when revenue for the job is earned, the total cost is transferred from finished goods to cost of goods sold (entry 8). Over applied and Under applied Overhead
Under normal costing, periodic adjustments need to be made to reconcile the actual overhead cost with the amount of overhead that has been allocated to jobs. When we determine the overhead allocation rate, we estimate both the cost of overhead (numerator) and the volume of the allocation base (denominator). At the end of the period, the amounts of overhead in the inventory accounts (work in process, finished goods, and cost of goods sold) are either too little or too much, and so adjustments need to be made. Overapplied overhead occurs when actual costs are less than the total amount of overhead allocated to inventory accounts.
In contrast, underapplied overhead occurs when actual costs are more than the amount of overhead allocated. To correct for overapplied or underapplied overhead, we first compare the amount of overhead allocated to actual overhead cost. Suppose it is the end of the fiscal year at Aluminum Benders. Balances in the overhead cost control accounts for the machining department and assembly department cost pools are shown in the exhibit below. Machining department overhead costs incurred totaled $1,600,000, while costs allocated to jobs totaled $1,120,000 (20,000 machine hours = $56).
Assembly department overhead costs incurred totaled $2,700,000, while costs allocated to jobs totaled $2,880,000 ($1,200,000 direct labor cost = 240%). The combined amount of overapplied (underapplied) overhead is Overapplied or (Underapplied) Overhead Machining$(480,000) Assembly 180,000 Net underapplied overhead 300,000 We then record an adjusting entry so that the total actual amount of overhead incurred is recorded as a product cost for the period. The balance of overapplied or underapplied overhead must be removed through an adjustment at the end of the accounting period.
If the amount of the adjustment is material, it is prorated among work in process, finished goods (if any), and cost of goods sold. This proration is prescribed by generally accepted accounting principles, which require inventory to be recorded at actual cost. If the amount is immaterial, however, it is simply assigned to cost of goods sold. Overhead Cost Control Accounts for Aluminum Benders Because the method of adjusting for overapplied or underapplied overhead depends on materiality, we need to decide whether the $300,000 amount for Aluminum Benders is material.
One way to evaluate materiality is to calculate the net overapplied or underapplied overhead as a percent of actual overhead costs. For Aluminum Benders, this calculation follows: $300,000 /($1,600,000 + $2,700,000) =7% Many accountants view amounts smaller than 10% to be immaterial. If we decide that the adjustment for Aluminum Benders is immaterial, we adjust the cost of goods sold total. Because overhead was under applied, cost of goods sold would be increased, as follows: Cost of goods sold 300,000 Assembly department overhead cost control 180,000
Machining department overhead cost control 480,000 If we decide that the adjustment for Aluminum Benders is material, it must be prorated among work in process, finished goods, and cost of goods sold. Suppose the balances in these accounts before the adjustment are: Ending work in process $ 100,000 Finished goods 20,000 Cost of goods sold 10,000,000 Total10,120,000 The adjustment of $300,000 would be prorated among these accounts based on each account’s proportion of the total. The adjusting journal entry would be:
Ending work in process ($100,000 / $10,120,000 * $300,000) 2964 Finished goods ($20,000 / $10,120,000 * $300,000) 593 Cost of goods sold ($10,000,000 / $10,120,000 * $300,000)296,443 Assembly department overhead cost control180,000 Machining department overhead cost control480,000 The balances before and after the adjustment would be: Before AdjustmentAdjustmentAfter adjustment Ending work in process$ 100,000$ 2,964$ 102,964 Finished goods 20,000 593 20,593 Cost of goods sold 10,000,000 296,443 10,296,443 Total 10,120,000 300,000 10,420,000
Whether the adjustment is considered material or immaterial, zero balances are left in both overhead cost control accounts after the adjustment, as shown in exhibit shown above. USES AND LIMITATIONS OF JOB COSTING Job costing systems measure the cost of products, primarily for customized goods and services. The information from a job costing system can be used for several purposes, including the following: * Reporting inventory and cost of goods sold values on financial statements and income tax returns * Developing cost estimates to assist in bidding on potential future jobs * Measuring actual costs to compare to estimated costs Developing cost estimates for short-term or long-term decisions Because a job costing system accumulates and reports costs for individual jobs, the tendency is to mistakenly believe that job costs are measured accurately and that the costs assigned to a job are incremental, that is, would not be incurred if the job were not undertaken. However, job costing systems are subject to uncertainties and require judgment. In addition, analysis is required to identify the job costs that are relevant to a given decision.