What are Cost Allocation Methods?
The cost allocation method is a process that facilitates identification and assignment of costs to products, departments, branches or programs based on certain criteria. When the allocation of costs is performed correctly, the business is able to account for its costs as well as trace them back to determine how they are making profits and losses.
How does it work?
The cost allocation method starts with the identification of cost drivers. The cost drivers tend to change the level of the cost incurred by the business for any aligned or identified activity. The cost drivers are generally composed of a number of machine-hours, the number of direct labour and the count of payment processed, the count of purchase orders, and the count of invoices that are dispatched to the customers. The establishment of comprehensive cost allocation methods helps in fast decision making for the management as they tend to get access to the important data of cost allocation and utilization on periodic fronts. It additionally keeps labour staff motivated as the business tends to recognize the department or product line that is the most profitable department. Since the data on cost allocation becomes accessible to the management, it helps the management evaluate the department and the associated staff.
Methods of Cost Allocation
#1 – Identification of Cost Object
This is the starting step in the identification of costs, wherein the business attempts to find and classify the cost objects. The cost objects are required as it helps the business to determine effective costs on segregated levels. Additionally, such identification is also regarded as critical as the business or organization cannot go ahead with the process of cost allocation if the cost objects are not known and defined.
The cost objects could be a project in the pipeline, product line, department, division, or entirely a new segregated brand. In parallel to this activity of determining the cost objects, the business identifies and determines the basis of the costs. The cost basis is basically the fundamental aspect basis allocation of costs that are performed on the cost objects.
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#2 – Accumulation of Costs into the Cost Pool
- Once the cost objects are identified and established, the next step involves the addition or accumulation of the cost into a defined cost pool and allocate the cost objects. The cost accumulation could result in the creation of multiple categories wherein the costs aligned would be pooled and segregated basis the cost allocation method employed. This could result in several methods. The cost pools aligned with the basis could be composed of electricity usage, square footage, water usage, insurance, fuel consumption, motor vehicle insurance, and rent expenses.
- Basis the identified costs the business tends to finally establish some levels of cost objects. Such cost objects can be identified as direct costs. The direct costs help in segregating costs that have a direct impact on business profitability and can be attributed to the distinct product line or service line. They are not required to be aligned with the defined cost objects as the business knows the type of expenses that could be incurred in the production of specific services and products.
- There could be some costs that are not direct; rather, they indirectly impact the aligned cost function, product line, or department. Such costs are required for the facilitation of business operations and further be divided into fixed or variable costs. Such costs would, therefore, be identified and then simultaneously allocated to the identified cost objects within the business unit or the organization.
- The fixed costs are basically the cost that is business or department has to bear to sustain itself. The variable costs, on the other hand, are costs that the business may or may not bear and depends on the level of output. Such variable costs can increase or decrease in magnitude, and such costs are generally controllable by the business if identified with the correct cost objects.
- There could be overhead costs as well, which are indirect and are not identified with the process of production or manufacturing. Such costs are not related to the material costs and labour costs that the business has to incur in the generation of services and finished goods. However, overhead costs if identified correctly with the cost pools, help the business in terms of selling the finished goods or services, and it helps in the production process.
- The overhead costs are levied on the expense account, and they should be comprehensively compensated irrespective of the fact whether the business is making sales on the services or finished products. Such costs are aligned with the administrative expenses as well as such expenses can be aligned to the legal expenses.
The cost allocation methods basically focus in terms of accumulation of costs followed by the establishment of cost drivers and cost pools to establish cost objects further and then aligned such costs to the cost objects. Cost allocation is basically a critical task for the business as it helps the business in determining the effective profit and loss for themselves, and this attribute further helps the management to establish effective decision-making policy.
This has been a guide to What are Cost Allocation Methods & its Definition. Here we discuss the two broad cost allocation methods, i.e. explain them in detail. You can learn more about from the following articles –