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西方会计英语Unit02

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Unit 2 Cost and management accounting

Text 2.1 Overheads and their recover

The costs of a business are of two types--direct and indirect

The direct costs vary directly production

If one additional unit of production is made, there will be a measurable increase in direct cost.

When one unit less in made, there will be similar measurable decrease in direct cost.

Direct- or raw - material is normally the largest component of direct cost.

It includes all items of material that are of sufficient size to warrant the effort of charging directly to the job.

Small item, such as glue, paint and small quantities of nails, screws and rivets, do not merit the clerical effort involved in charging directly to the job, and would be recovered as an overhead.

Direct wages will vary directly with production where remuneration is based upon piecework only

This means that a specific amount is paid when a production operation is successfully finished.

If it is not finished, no payment is made.

In this book it is assumed that direct labour is of this nature.

Many organizations remunerate labour on the basis of a large basic wage, topped up with a productivity bonus.

The basic element is paid regardless of the level of production.

In such cases wages will not vary directly with production, and fall into the category of an indirect cost or overhead.

Overhead is a general term applied to all the costs involved in running a business, other than direct cost.

It covers the costs of running the works organization; product research and development; the administration of the business.

selling and distributing the product; and the cost of raising finan

Overheads are diverse, covering the whole of the business organization

The management accountant has the problem of allocating these costs to the individual product lines being manufacture.

Cost central

To help in this task, the organization is split up into cost central

These are areas of activity to which are gathered all costs of a like nature

A maintenance department, canteen and stores are examples cost center

Normally centre will identify with physical areas of the organization

A stores cost centre is a physical area in which materials are kept, while awaiting issue to production

A centre may also not be identifiable with a physical are

The finance cost centre will gather together all the costs of raising finance for the business, other than from owners or shareholder.

It is a function of the administration department, and cannot be identified with a physical area of the business.

Where a cost centre has a product which is being manufactured, it is known as a product centre.

Examples are a machine shop which is machining parts for assembly into the saleable product in an assembly shop.

Where a centre has a product that is saleable, thus giving rise to an income, It is also known as a profit centre.

It is capable of showing a profit or loss its overall activities.

Cost allocation

The management accountant's task is to allocate the many, diverse overheads, onto the cost of each product manufacture.

It is a major task requiring the use of many different bases of allocation.

The allocation of direct cost to a product can be précis

In the case of overhead allocation an element of logical guesstimatin enter

There is a two-fold process, firstly to collect all overhead costs onto the product or profit centre

and secondly to load the overheads onto each product passing through the centre

Text 2.2 Costs in their proper play

The peanut butter approach to accounting is not a technique widely familiar to the UK's financial executive

And yet, according to Professor Robert Kaplan of Harvard University, if businesses do not become aware of the dangers of this strangely named type of accounting

They risk making the wrong decisions and losing out to the competition

Kaplan is the co-author of a seminal work on management accountancy

Unlike most tracts on this subject, Kaplan's book, Relevance Lost is surprisingly readable and makes a compelling case that conventional accounting techniques are ill-equipped to deal with modern manufacturing

Kaplan pointed out, both in the book and in many articles before and after its 1987 publication

that the modern factory environment was different from its equivalent only a decade ago

Automation had replaced labour in the move to so-called world-class manufacturing, CAD-CAM and just-in-time production

But the way of accounting for a manufacturing business had moved on in a century

Thus managers made important decisions about pricing and product mix with reference to figures which bore no resemblance to the true economics of making a batch of widgets or a custom-built moto

Costs were apportioned to the products on the traditional basis of labour hours -an inappropriate approach given the automated environment

and Kaplan argued, equivalent to a random spreading of costs across the portfolio of products -the peanut -butter approach.

In the last chapter of his book, Kaplan and his co-author offered some solution

Managers should pay more attention to non-financial criteria when making their decisions, they argue

And they should scrutinise the precise make-up of the costs involved in opting to manufacture one product rather than another, abandoning the traditional accountant's distinctions between fixed costs and variable costs, between direct and indirect cost.

Kaplan was one of the early exponents of so-called activity-based costing (ABC).

Under this approach, managers strive to spot 'cost-drivers', i.e the factors influencing the costs of the product.

The philosophy of ABC proved alluring especially to the consultancy firms alert to a good marketing opportunity

But although most of the big accountancy firms have in recent years taken on squads of ABC consultant, it has always been very difficult to tease out any example of ABC being used in practice.

The argument against identifying clients is usually that they are doing so well out of ABC that competitors should not be allowed to find out.
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