Activity Based Accounting Concept

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CONCEPT PAPER ON ACTIVITY BASED COSTING

In recent years, companies have reduced their dependency on traditional accounting systems Developing activity-based cost management systems.

Traditional costing systems have a tendency to assign indirect costs based on something easy to identify (such as direct labor hours). This method of assigning costs can be very inaccurate because there is no actual relationship between the cost pool and the cost driver. This can make indirect costs allocation inaccurate. Initially, managers viewed the ABC approach as a more accurate way of calculating product costs. But ABC has emerged as a tremendously useful guide to management action that can translate directly into higher profits. The Activity Based Costing
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In addition, activities include actions that are performed both by people and machine.
However, as the percentages of indirect or overhead costs rose, this technique became increasingly inaccurate, because indirect costs were not caused equally by all products. For example, one product might take more time in one expensive machine than another product—but since the amount of direct labor and materials might be the same, additional cost for use of the machine is not being recognized when the same broad 'on-cost' percentage is added to all products. Consequently, when multiple products share common costs, there is a danger of one product subsidizing another.
ABC is based on George Staubus' Activity Costing and Input-Output Accounting. The concepts of ABC were developed in the manufacturing sector of the United States during the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, the Consortium for Advanced Management-International, now known simply as CAM-I, provided a formative role for studying and formalizing the principles that have become more formally known as Activity-Based
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Once costs of the activities have been identified, the cost of each activity is attributed to each product to the extent that the product uses the activity. In this way ABC often identifies areas of high overhead costs per unit and so directs attention to finding ways to reduce the costs or to charge more for costly products.
Activity-based costing was first clearly defined in 1987 by Robert S. Kaplan and W. Bruns as a chapter in their book Accounting and Management: A Field Study Perspective. They initially focused on manufacturing industry where increasing technology and productivity improvements have reduced the relative proportion of the direct costs of labor and materials, but have increased relative proportion of indirect costs. For example, increased automation has reduced labor, which is a direct cost, but has increased depreciation, which is an indirect cost.
Activity-based costing was later explained in 1999 by Peter F. Drucker in the book Management Challenges of the 21st Century. He states that traditional cost accounting focuses on what it costs to do something, for example, to cut a screw thread; activity-based costing also records the cost of not doing, such as the cost of waiting for a needed part. Activity-based costing records the costs that traditional cost accounting do not

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