How Do I Choose A Cost Driver?

cost driver rate formula

You choose an activity that closely relates to the cost incurred. The most common activity levels used are direct labor hours or machine hours. Both costing experts had to allocate costs to each of the three grades of gasoline to determine a total cost per grade of fuel and a cost per gallon for each grade. Sales of regular grade fuel were significantly higher than the other two grades. Using the plantwide approach, the plaintiff‘s expert allocated all costs based on gallons of gas sold. Using the activity-based costing approach, the defendant‘s expert formed three activity cost pools—labor, kiosk, and gas dispensing.

Not to mention, some businesses don’t have the job positions and resources to manage an ABC system. Activity-based costing helps you identify where you’re wasting money. If you find that some activities cost more than they should, you can find new methods to do something. Finance departments have suffered significant downsizing over the past ten years. We need to keep cost allocations simple while maintaining causality. Very useful for strategic decision making and setting service level agreements.

You feel that too much of the cost of cable is being allocated to you and your friend feels that too much of the cost of groceries is being allocated to him. Your other two roommates are underpaying for the resources that they are consuming. To receive the true benefits of ABC, managers must go beyond simply measuring costs to find ways to manage or reduce them. This is where cost management approaches—such as _______________—come into play. All actions that managers take to improve operations or reduce costs based on ABC data. Indirect costs can be assigned to products or services using ______.

Just for example, usually, material cost and labor cost will correlate. This does not mean labor costs can be a cost driver for material costs. For example, suppose students in biology classes are messier than students in history classes. As a result, the university does more maintenance per square foot in biology classrooms and labs than in history classrooms. Further, it is possible to keep track of the time maintenance people spend cleaning classrooms and labs. The university could assign maintenance costs based on the time spent in history classrooms and in biology classrooms and labs, respectively, to the history and biology departments. Add up the overhead from each department to calculate the total overhead applied.

cost driver rate formula

The actual production and final product inspection are also common activity drivers that effect costs. When determining the cost drivers in a business, set them into distinct categories based on the activity. Production is impossible without the raw materials and this is an activity that will always factor into the overhead structure. Before you can determine the cost driver, you must first locate the cost objects. These are the actual points of cost incurred and the activities that create the costs. For example, if you produce a product that requires hazardous material designations for transport, you will incur a fee to transport the materials on public roadways. Calculate the direct materials cost per unit and direct labor cost per unit for each product.

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An activity center is a unit of the organization that performs some activity. For example, the costs of setting up machines would be assigned to the activity center that sets up machines. When the cost driver is the number of inspections, for example, the company must keep track of the cost of inspections. In the table below, we present several examples of the cost drivers companies use. Most cost drivers are related to either the volume of production or to the complexity of the production or marketing process. Determine the activity volume to use for the activity cost and activity volume if given excess information by looking at what you want to examine the rate of. Knowledge of cost behavior allows a manager to assess changes in costs that result from changes in activity.

  • With an ABC system you’ll be able to determine how much overhead each channel requires, allowing you to alter or even drop your distribution channels.
  • These are the actual points of cost incurred and the activities that create the costs.
  • Duration drivers – Duration drivers determine how long it takes to complete an activity.
  • Activity-based costing as an alternative to traditional costing systems measures and allocates cost with a higher degree of accuracy and precision.
  • If information is needed from a few departments, there is a greater chance for getting inaccurate data because some departments will be unable to sustainably prioritize the gathering of accurate data.

This helps the business to know the activities to give attention to and the ones that will bring down the production cost. Activity-based costing enables businesses to separate the different activities of the business and get the cost implications for each. This helps the business to determine which activity yields the greatest benefit and which activity to eliminate. Many small businesses find that calculating their overhead rate yearly is sufficient. However, businesses with an active manufacturing component may find it helpful to calculate their overhead rate quarterly to make more timely adjustments if needed.

A cost driver is that factor or variable which has a cause and effect relationship with the total cost. The cost driver is the ’cause’, and the ‘total cost incurred’ is the effect of it. If we take an example of fuel cost of running a car, the cost driver would be ‘No. Higher the no. of km run, higher would be the total cost of fuel. The cost driver rate could be the cost per purchase order, for example. Structural cost drivers are determined from a company’s choices regarding its underlying economic structure. Key cost drivers at this level include the organization’s scale and scope, the level and type of technology, and the organization’s product strategy with respect to the variety of products offered to customers.


Activity-based costing is most helpful in situations with complex production costs. When a company uses machines to manufacture several retained earnings products, they have several lines of products or there are frequent machine setups, that’s when ABC offers valuable information.

cost driver rate formula

Upon completion of the calculations, you will be able to tell Rio Group LLC to allocate $15,120 of overhead to Widget A and $11,880 of overhead to Widget B. Upon completion of the calculations, you will be able to tell Rio Group LLC to allocate $11,250 of overhead to Widget A and $15,750 of overhead to Widget B. An ABC system retained earnings usually requires more information than what is available in a general ledger. A separate database with information from a few sources is typically required, making it difficult to maintain. The solution is to construct a system that needs a minimal amount of additional data aside from what is in the general ledger.


A more systematic approach, perhaps, is to review past activity levels and identify the month with the largest number of orders handled without excessive delays, poor quality, overtime, or stressed employees. Whichever approach you prefer, it’s important not to be overly sensitive Certified Public Accountant to small errors. The objective is to be approximately right, say within 5% to 10% of the actual number, rather than precise. If the estimate of practical capacity is grossly in error, the process of running the time-driven ABC system will reveal the error over time.

cost driver rate formula

As a result, you could put more focus on your most profitable customers and possibly turn away the more unprofitable clients. Activities consume resources while customers, products, and channels of production consume activities. Understanding this is fundamental to the cost allocation concept using cost drivers. The profitability of each customer can also be easily evaluated using cost drivers, and in cases of resource constraints, the less profitable order can be eliminated. Resources should be allocated to the most profitable activities or in proportion to profitability. Analysis More overhead is allocated to the lower volume mountain bicycles using activity-based costing. By failing to assign costs to all of the activities, touring bicycles were subsidizing mountain bicycles.

What Is The Right Basis To Use To Calculate The Overhead Rate

The profits of ABC costing may not continuously compensate the additional cost. Overhead is just a minor portion of the complete cost associated with the items or service. Save money and don’t sacrifice features you need for your business.

Does Coca Cola Use Activity Based Costing?

Using TDABC, business owners can calculate the cost of one unit of time for an activity in the business, whatever that unit is. For example, a unit of time could be as small as one minute of performing a credit check on a client. For most service businesses and non-profits, however, that unit is usually defined as a client or a job. Thereafter, the concerned department assigns activity cost drivers to each group under the ABC method. I do not understand why do we relate direct labor costs to indirect production costs . Allocate expenses to items by multiplying the cost driver rate with the amount of cost driver parts the items consume. Establishing Cost Pool/Cost Centres for Each Significant Activity – A cost pool is a collection of total costs for every major activity.

One way to combine activities is based on the activity hierarchy. For example, unit-level activities cost driver rate formula can be grouped together; batch-level activities can be grouped together, and so on.

Determine the appropriate cost drivers for the cost pools identified in #1. The activity-based costing method results in allocation of $15,120 of overhead to Widget A and $11,880 of overhead to Widget B. Usually, a company utilizes several channels for distributing and selling products.

You decide to take the $1,200 cost and divide it evenly by the four of you. After a few months, you and your friends become annoyed with this scenario. You don’t watch TV so you don’t think it’s fair you have to pay for cable. One of your friends rarely eats at home so he thinks it is unfair to pay for groceries.

Or imagine the activities involved in making a complex product such as an automobile or computer. Find the total cost for the activity in your given information. For instance, you would use the total cost to produce all of the widgets. The related video shows an example problem and the calculations required.

How Do You Identify Cost Drivers?

Large, company-wide installations of the activity-based costing system can take several years and a lot of effort. Typically smaller installations that target specific products are more successful. With an ABC system, you can track and assess the cost of activities. This is an especially useful tool when it comes to cost reduction. Learn accounting fundamentals and how to read financial statements with CFI’s free online accounting classes.

In reality, most employees , on average, only spend 80% to 85% of paid hours on revenue generating related tasks . The accuracy of TDABC calculations directly depends on the approach to calculation and how measurements are taken within a company. First, all the activities are identified which will help in creating a product. You are provided with the cost data from twelve observations of electricity, a semi-variable cost.

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