Activity-Based Costing

Let’s say that your Widget 3.0 requires one extra step during production than the Widget 2.0 does. In every other way, the two models of widgets are identical. The extra step of production needed to make a Widget 3.0, however, is an example of a product-based cost because it applies to a line of products in its entirety. That’s where the activity-based costing system can help. Based on this calculation, the activity-based cost for product design is $10 per hour.

Unit-level activities, batch-level activities, product-level activities, and facility-level activities are all levels of activity-based costing. The concept of activity-based costing and, as a consequence, batch-level activity accounting, started in the 1930s. Eric Kohler was a Comptroller of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA was in the process of accounting for costs surrounding activities involved with flood control, navigation, and hydro-electric power generation. Certain activities, such as maintenance or quality control, can oftentimes be accounted for in multiple levels of activity-based costing. Trendy Clothing would repeat this process for each activity and cost driver to determine the activity-based costs for each product line.

Activity-Based Costing

Activity‐based costing assumes that the steps or activities that must be followed to manufacture a product are what determine the overhead costs incurred. Each overhead cost, whether variable or fixed, is assigned to a category of costs. Cost drivers are the actual activities that cause the total cost in an activity cost pool to increase. The number of times materials are ordered, the number of production lines in a factory, and the number of shipments made to customers are all examples of activities that impact the costs a company incurs.

Both of these activities caused costs to be incurred but were not adding value to the product. If you include this observation in your report, one or more employees who perform inspections will likely lose their jobs. The total cost for each activity pool is divided by the activity quantity metric. For example, robotics cost $2,200,000 and 200,000 units were produced. This calculation is repeated for each activity cost pool, and is summarized in the following schedule. Of the total costs, direct material and direct labor were traceable directly to the product cost object.

Activity-based Costing:

Let’s take a look at three examples to give you more insight into the costing system. By understanding which activities drive the most costs, you can identify areas to improve efficiency and reduce waste. It is reportedly much more expensive to produce than GLASSESong. Following is an analysis of GAME’s cost of production by product. C. First-stage allocations may be based on subjective interview data.

A product-based cost is an expense that applies to an entire product line. If your factory produces several different types of widgets, each widget produced would constitute a different product line. So long as the final products are identical to one another and even slightly dissimilar to other products, they are the same product made on the same line. Activities involving a batch of products—as opposed to individual items. An example of a batch activity is the setting up of a machine to produce a batch of 1,000 identical items.

Batch-Level Activities

The costs of direct materials, direct labor, and machine maintenance are examples of unit‐level activities. Batch‐level activities are costs incurred every time a group (batch) of units is produced or a series of steps is performed. A per unit cost is calculated by dividing the total dollars in each activity cost pool by the number of units of the activity cost drivers. As an example to calculate the per unit cost for the purchasing department, the total costs of the purchasing department are divided by the number of purchase orders.

Batch-level activities are one of the five broad levels of activity that activity-based costing account for. Each of these levels is assessed by cost, and these costs are allocated to the company’s overhead costs. The other levels of activity that are accounted for by activity-based costing are unit-level activities, customer-level activities, production-level activities, and organization-sustaining activities.

Kohler defined an activity as a portion of work done by a specific part of the company. By tracking the costs of such activities in various parts of the company, Kohler began the precedent of accounting for the cost of work activities. Let’s start uncovering the magic of the activity-based costing process. If the answer is yes, you might want to start using activity-based costing (ABC). D. More accurate product costs may result in increasing the selling prices of some products. Inspecting is not a unit-level activity; it is a batch-level activity.

Learn why so many businesses use activity-based costing and how to determine if it’s right for your business. A. Maintaining an activity-based costing system is more costly than maintaining a traditional direct labour-based costing system. B. Because of the high correlation between direct labour hours and the incurrence of overhead costs. Learn about the activity-based costing method (ABC method). Explore how the ABC method is used, who uses the method, and what the pros and cons are. Meanwhile, a product-based cost is a much bigger deal.


When using ABC, the total cost of each activity pool is divided by the total number of units of the activity to determine the cost per unit. Consider that traditional costing methods divide costs into product costs and period costs. The period costs include selling, general, and administrative items that are charged against income in the period incurred. Product costs are the familiar direct materials, direct labor, and factory overhead. These costs are traced/allocated to production under both job and process costing techniques.

  • A classic example is the cost to set up a production run; this cost is then assigned to the units produced as a result of that setup.
  • Explore how the ABC method is used, who uses the method, and what the pros and cons are.
  • These activities are indirectly related to individual product units, and their costs are considered indirect costs.
  • In conducting interviews and observing factory operations to implement an activity-based costing system, you determine that several activities are unnecessary or redundant.
  • ABC is partitioning overhead utilization for merchandise and organization such as administrative cost, maintenance cost etc.