Traditional based costing systems typically use a single overhead pool - that is a single accumulation of costs that are not directly identifiable as product part costs or as labor. This would include supply and maintenance expenses, allocations of management salaries, depreciation, etc.
Activity based costing utilizes a lot of smaller more targeted cost buildups that are accumulated based on "activities". For instance, if purchase orders are only required from some vendors, then the cost of p.o. preparation and mailing is included in a small overhead pool that is only allocated to the products that use those parts. If a machine setup process is only needed for the processing of certain parts, then the cost of the setup is included in the pool for only those parts, etc.
Some advantages for the (ABC).
1. It facilitates delegation of decision making.
2.It helps management promote the concept of management by objective in which managers agree on a set of goals.
3. It provides a guide to the evaluation of performance and helps to establish standard of performance, which are then used for comparison purpose.
4. It permits effective use of the concept of management by exception which means that the manager's attention is concentrated on the important deviations.
ABC....why? The problem with Traditional costing is that it can easily over-allocate overhead to cost objectives. Traditional costing is production volume driven so its would be easy but yet inaccurate to assign a Skittles production with more overhead than say a the division within the same company that makes custom pies. Activity based costing accounts for the multiple costs that go into making a product or service thus making allocation of overhead more efficient and allowing managers to make better business decisions. Derek Coleman
In traditional costing system overheads are spread over volume of production by using spread rate which is called blanket rate or absorption rate while in ABC costing costs are allocated on the bases of actual activity performed in specific cost centers so this is a accurate method for allocating costs according to activity performed and not with just any estimated rates
Activity-based costing is a more accurate cost management system than TCA. One would use the ABC method when overhead is high, products are diverse, cost of errors high and competition is stiff. Traditional Cost Accounting is unable to calculate the 'true' cost of the product. TCA arbitrarily allocates overhead to the costs of objects. Total company's overhead is allocated to the products based on volume based measure e.g. labor hours, machine hours.
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