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Predetermined Overhead Rate

Predetermined Overhead Rate Definition

A company uses a predetermined overhead rate to allocate overhead costs to the costs of products. Indirect costs are estimated, a cost driver is selected, cost driver activity is estimated, and then indirect costs are applied to production output based on a formula using these data.

Predetermined Overhead Rate Example

For example, imagine a company that makes widgets. In order to make the widgets, the production process requires raw material inputs and direct labor. These two factors comprise part of the cost of producing each widget; however, ignoring overhead costs, such as rent, utilities, and administrative expenses that indirectly contribute to the production process, would result in underestimating the cost of each widget. Therefore overhead costs are allocated to production output via predetermined overhead rates, or rates that determine how much of the overhead costs are applied to each unit of production output.

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Predetermined Overhead Rate Usage

Traditional costing systems apply indirect costs to products based on a predetermined overhead rate. Unlike ABC, traditional costing systems treat overhead costs as a single pool of indirect costs. Traditional costing is optimal when indirect costs are low compared to direct costs. There are several steps for computing the predetermined overhead rate in the traditional costing process, including the following:

1. Identify indirect costs.
2. Estimate indirect costs for the appropriate period (month, quarter, year).
3. Choose a cost-driver with a causal link to the cost (labor hours, machine hours).
4. Estimate an amount for the cost-driver for the appropriate period (labor hours per quarter, etc.).
5. Compute the predetermined overhead rate (see below).
6. Apply overhead to products using the predetermined overhead rate.

Calculating Predetermined Overhead Rate

First, use the following formula to calculate overhead rate.

Predetermined Overhead Rate = Estimated Overhead Costs / Estimated Cost-Driver Amount

See the following calculation example:

$30/labor hr = $360,000 indirect costs / 12,000 hours of direct labor

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Direct Labor

See Also:
Direct Cost vs Indirect Cost
Cost Driver
Direct Materials
Direct Labor Variance Formulas
Absorption Cost Accounting
Direct Material Variance Formulas

Direct Labor Definition

In accounting, direct labor (DL) costs are the costs associated with paying workers to make a product or provide a service. The workers must be clearly involved in producing the product or providing the service. Direct labor costs are one of the costs associated with producing a product or providing a service. Furthermore, direct labor costs are in contrast to indirect labor costs. Indirect labor costs are costs associated with workers who are necessary, but they are not directly involved with making the product or providing the service.

Examples of direct labor costs include the following:

  • In a manufacturing setting, wages paid to workers in an assembly line
  • In a service setting, wages paid to workers in the kitchen of a restaurant

Direct Labor and Overhead Allocation

Sometimes it may be appropriate to use direct labor as a cost driver to allocate indirect costs to a production process.

Overhead Allocation

Indirect costs, such as overhead costs, are not directly traceable to the final product; however they are necessary for the production of the process. As a result, they must be incorporated in the overall cost of the product. In addition, allocate indirect costs to the final product by way of a cost driver.

Direct Labor

In production, processes in which direct labor is an appropriate cost driver, allocate indirect costs to the cost of units of output via DL hours. Then, allocate indirect costs to the units of output using a cost driver rate. For example, it could be $2 dollars per hour of direct labor, or $0.40 per hour of direct labor, depending on the specifics of the production process.

Direct labor is a typical cost driver for allocating indirect costs to units of output from a production process. But as production processes have become more automated over time, using DL is no longer as common as it once was. As a result, other cost drivers are frequently used to allocate indirect costs in a production process or in providing services to customers.

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Source:

Hilton, Ronald W., Michael W. Maher, Frank H. Selto. “Cost Management Strategies for Business Decision”, Mcgraw-Hill Irwin, New York, NY, 2008.

 

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Cost Driver

See Also:
Cost Center
Value Drivers: Building Reliable Systems to Sustain Growth
Direct Labor Variance Formulas
Direct Material Variance Formulas
Step Method Allocation

Cost Driver Definition

In accounting, the cost driver definition is a factor that incurs cost. Use cost drivers to allocate variable and indirect costs to production activities or output. Include both indirect costs and direct costs to compute the full cost of production. Because indirect costs, such as variable overhead, are not directly traceable to production activities, allocate them according to a cost driver rate to apply these costs to production activities. Based on the activity of the cost driver, the cost driver rate is the rate indirect costs applied to production activities.


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Choosing Cost Drivers

An indirect or variable cost may have several possible cost drivers. Traditional costing methods allocate indirect costs to production activities based on volume of output. Conversely, activity-based costing allocates indirect costs to particular production activities related to that cost.

When deciding which driver to use in terms of allocating indirect cost, consider the cause-and-effect relation between the cost and the driver. In addition, consider whether or not the cost driver activity is easily measurable. It is also necessary to consider the cost behavior of the relevant cost. The relevant cost refers to the cost’s response to the activity of the driver. In addition, approximate the relationship between costs and cost drivers using regression analysis.

Use these drivers at differing hierarchical levels. For example, an indirect or variable cost may be relevant at the unit level, the batch level, the product level, the customer level, or the facility level. Once you determine the appropriate hierarchical level, choose a cost driver activity at that level in order to allocate the indirect or variable cost.

Cost Driver Rates

A cost driver rate is the amount of indirect or variable cost assigned to each unit of cost driver activity. For example, you may apply indirect overhead to direct labor hours as $50 dollars per hour. In this case, for each hour of direct labor required for production, the company would then allocate $50 of indirect overhead costs to the production activities or output.

Cost Driver Examples

For illustrative purposes, below are some cost driver examples of indirect or variable costs as well as relevant cost driver bases for these costs.

CostCost Driver 
Maintenance expenseMachine hours
Fuel costsMiles traveled
Electricity expenseHours of factory operation
Material handling expenseTons of material handled

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cost driver, Cost Driver Definition, Choosing Cost Drivers, Cost Driver Examples

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cost driver, Cost Driver Definition, Choosing Cost Drivers, Cost Driver Examples

Source:

Hilton, Ronald W., Michael W. Maher, Frank H. Selto. “Cost Management Strategies for Business Decision”, Mcgraw-Hill Irwin, New York, NY, 2008.

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Cost Volume Profit Definition

See Also:
Prepare a Breakeven Analysis
Contribution Margin
How to Prepare an Investor Package
Capital Asset Pricing Model CAPM
Net Profit Margin Analysis
Cost Volume Profit Formula

Cost Volume Profit Definition

A cost volume profit definition, defined also as the CVP model, is a financial model that shows how changes in sales volume, prices, and costs will affect profits. Use the CVP analysis for planning, making projections, and for decision-making purposes. A CVP model can be used to calculate a breakeven sales volume. CVP analysis can also be used to figure out the sales volume required to reach a certain target profit.


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Cost Volume Profit Explanation

Cost volume profit, explained below, is one of the many ways to measure changes in the financial health of a company as it relates to sales. A CVP model is a simple financial model that assumes sales volume is the primary cost driver. In order to create a CVP model, you need certain data for the fiscal period in question. You need an estimate or figure for fixed costs, unit-level variable costs, and product/unit sales prices.

Cost Volume Profit Examples

For example, let’s take a movie theater in reference to a simple cost volume profit analysis. The theater has quarterly fixed costs of $30,000. These include utilities, salaries, and rent/mortgage, etc. The variable cost per movie ticket is $2. This includes the cost of paper, printing, and the custodial services, etc. The price of a movie ticket is $7.

Three variables:

1. Fixed costs of $30,000
2. Variable costs of $2
3. Sales price of $7

Now, using this data, we can calculate the breakeven point for the theater. Once you have this data, calculating the breakeven point is easy. First, compute the contribution margin per ticket. The contribution margin is the sales price minus the unit-level variable costs. Then find out how many tickets the theater must sell in order to cover its fixed costs. To do this, divide fixed costs by the contribution margin per ticket.

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cost volume profit definition

Source

Hilton, Ronald W., Michael W. Maher, Frank H. Selto. “Cost Management Strategies for Business Decision”, Mcgraw-Hill Irwin, New York, NY, 2008.

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Activity Based Costing

See Also:
Activity-based Costing (ABC) vs Traditional Costing

Activity Based Costing

Activity based costing is a system that attempts to accurately trace indirect costs to products by allocating indirect costs to activities and then to products based on their usage of the activities. ABC is optimal when accuracy is very important and when indirect costs comprise a large proportion of total costs compared to direct costs.

ABC is commonly used in the manufacturing sector. A reason why it is so useful for the manufacturing sector is fairly obvious, by allocating indirect costs to products based on usage, a company can more accurately see where the resources and energy is going in their company. By figuring out where the money and energy is going, efforts can be focused upon those products that are eating up the most time and energy. This will eventually lead to a drop in cost, in theory, as efforts will be made to reduce the costs on the bulk of the products. Activity based costing is all about efficiency. Efficiency is paramount to success and growth within a company and that is why activity based costing is an effective way to allocate indirect costs within a company to products.

Activity Based Costing Steps

Th four following steps include the activity based costing process:

1. Identify and classify all of the activities in the value chain related to the production of the product.

2. Estimate a total cost for each of the activities identified.

3. Compute a cost-driver rate for each activity based on a cost allocation base that has a causal link to the cost of the activity.

4. Apply activity costs to products using the appropriate cost-driver rate.

Activity-Based Costing Example

For example, a company identifies and classifies machine maintenance as an indirect cost activity. Based on historical data, the company estimates machine maintenance costs to be $1,000 per month. The company determines that batches of product produced on the machine are an appropriate cost-driver allocation base for machine maintenance costs. The machine typically produces 500 batches per month. Thus, the cost-driver rate would be $1,000/500 batches, or $2/batch. So, for each batch of product produced, the company would apply $2 of indirect cost for machine maintenance.

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