Standard cost accounting Wikipedia

What is standard costing

We will discuss later how to handle the balances in the variance accounts under the heading What To Do With Variance Amounts. Someone on our team will connect you with a financial professional in our network holding the correct designation and expertise. Our team of reviewers are established professionals with decades of experience in areas of personal finance and hold many advanced degrees and certifications. Before fixing standards, a detailed study of the functions involved in the manufacturing of the product is necessary.


Standard cost accounting can hurt managers, workers, and firms in several ways. For example, a policy decision to increase inventory can harm a manufacturing manager’s performance evaluation. Increasing inventory requires increased production, which means that processes must operate at higher rates. When something goes wrong, the process takes longer and uses more than the standard labor time. The manager appears responsible for the excess, even though they have no control over the production requirement or the problem.

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Ideal standards, also called perfection standards, are established on a maximum efficiency level with no unplanned work stoppages. In setting standards, the key question is to decide on the type of standard to be used in fixing the cost. The main types of standards are ideal, basic, and currently attainable standards. A standard is essentially an expression of quantity, whereas a standard cost is its monetary expression (i.e., quantity multiplied by price).

What is standard costing

However, today, many managers are still evaluated on their labor efficiencies, and many downsizing, rightsizing, and other labor reduction campaigns are based on them. While standard costs can be a useful management tool for a manufacturer, the manufacturer’s external financial statements must comply with the cost principle and the matching principle. Therefore, significant variances must be reviewed and properly assigned or allocated to the cost of goods sold and/or inventories. A standard cost is described as a predetermined cost, an estimated future cost, an expected cost, a budgeted unit cost, a forecast cost, or as the “should be” cost. Standard costs are often an integral part of a manufacturer’s annual profit plan and operating budgets.

Historical costs

Nearly all companies have budgets and many use standard cost calculations to derive product prices, so it is apparent that standard costing will find some uses for the foreseeable future. In particular, standard costing provides a benchmark against which management can compare actual performance. A pre-determined cost which is calculated from management’s standards of efficient operation and the relevant necessary expenditure.

  • It is based on past experience and is referred to as a common sense cost, reflecting the best judgment of management.
  • A standard is essentially an expression of quantity, whereas a standard cost is its monetary expression (i.e., quantity multiplied by price).
  • Any difference between the standard cost of the material and the actual cost of the material received is recorded as a purchase price variance.
  • In a standard costing system, the standard costs of the manufacturing activities will be recorded in the inventories and the cost of goods sold accounts.

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Introduction to Standard Costing

The last advantage of using standard cost is that even when other standards and guidelines are constantly being revised, standard cost serves as a reliable basis for evaluating performance and control costs. For managers looking to create a more precise budget, standard cost accounting can be a very useful tool. After all, a business that has accurate budgets is generally in a better position to be successful and effective. It also essentially enabled managers to ignore the fixed costs, and look at the results of each period in relation to the “standard cost” for any given product. A standard costing system is a cost accounting method that uses a predetermined cost to measure actual costs and variance. Since standard costs are usually slightly different from actual costs, the cost accountant periodically calculates variances that break out differences caused by such factors as labor rate changes and the cost of materials.

What is standard costing

It is also one of the most recently developed refinements of cost accounting. To calculate standard costs, you add your estimated direct materials costs, labor costs, and manufacturing overhead. The difference is a variance, and this variance can be favorable (the actual cost was less than the standard cost) or unfavorable (the cost actual cost was high than the standard cost). When there is a difference between the company’s actual costs and standard costs, it becomes an opportunity to remove the discrepancies by refining the production process, forecasting methods, and overall efficiency.

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Codes and symbols are assigned to different accounts to make the collection and analysis of costs more quick and convenient. A cost center is a location, person, or item of equipment (or a group of these) for which costs may be ascertained and used for the purpose of cost control. In jobbing industries, as well as industries that produce non-standardized products, it is not possible to apply the technique advantageously. The standard of efficient operation is decided based on previous experience, research findings, or experiments. The standard is generally defined as that which is attainable but only after substantial effort.