Standard Cost Accounting in Determining the Estimate Versus Actual
In general terms, the computation of manufacturing cost involves many methods and techniques to define the components of cost, as well as determining what will be the basis of cost measurement such as historical cost, market value, and/or actual cost. For managers, the simple point of cost accounting is to determine why production costs are different than what they were planned (or estimated) to be, and then to take the appropriate corrective action. In an integrated enterprise resource planning operation (ERP), where work orders, shop floor routers, and travelers define the job sequencing for a generated sales order, each aspect of the sequence is reviewed in terms of actual versus estimated cost to attempt to discover those production steps than are deviating the most from the planned cost. In focusing so closely upon the production sequence, each and every step can be macroanalyzed in terms of cost as it is related to variables such as volume of output, material, and labor time for production.
For example, to discover actual versus estimate discrepancies in a particular work center or production sequence, management can look to things such as scrap piece counts, set-up times/cost, and material costs as they concern specific sequences. As such data is accumulated, it is easier to come to an understanding as to what specific aspect or sequence in production is costing more than the estimate, and why it is doing so. For those manufacturers utilizing more robust ERP software systems, managers can quickly and easily see actual dollar costs against individual production activities, as well as finding opportunities to streamline operations and reduce costs. If needed, as a result of cost accounting a manager can even determine whether they should eliminate the entire production activity, especially if there is no value added or profit to be made.
With accurate and regular job cost accounting facilitated by ERP software, the modern manufacturer gains a competitive edge through the routine maintenance of cost efficiencies. Indeed, as corrections, as a result of cost accounting, are made in the production system to alleviate inefficient or non-profitable sequences, actual costs come into closer alignment with estimated costs, and in doing so provide a more predictable bottom-line.
Dusty Alexander is the President of Global Shop Solutions. Global Shop Solutions is the largest privately held ERP software company in the United States.