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What Are the Different Costing Methods?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are a number of different costing methods that can be used by businesses to analyze and evaluate the costs of producing products when compared with the value of such products. Two of the most common approaches to cost analysis are process costing and job-order costing, which each deal with comparing the expenses involved in manufacturing with the profit from a product. Activity-based costing is often used in addition to these other methods to analyze individual aspects of the manufacturing process. These types of costing methods can also include average costing analysis that analyzes the cost of goods in relation to the number of goods produced.

Costing methods are means by which a business, usually a manufacturer, is able to analyze the expenses involved with making a product and compare those costs with the amount made on the sale of those products. One of the most common costing methods used by companies is often referred to as process costing. This method uses the expenses for a particular procedure, such as packaging a product, with regard to the amount of time it takes for the procedure to complete and the value of that time. Process costing can then be used to compare multiple steps in a manufacturing process, and evaluate the overall costs by combining the steps together.

While process costing can be effective for many manufacturers, some businesses may require more specific forms of costing methods. Job-order costing is often used by manufacturers that produce fewer overall products, but charge more for those products, such as airplane manufacturers. This costing method is typically used for individual jobs or orders, and each process is often kept separate rather than combined together to create an average, which is frequently done in process costing. Each of these costing methods can also be used together to evaluate different parts of a large manufacturing process and provide the most relevant information possible for each step.

In addition to these costing methods, activity-based costing can also be employed. This is a form of cost analysis in which individual activities that are part of larger procedures, such as time spent transporting goods on a forklift, are isolated and analyzed for overall cost. Activity-based costing allows companies to more clearly see the expenses involved with individual activities that are part of construction to ensure time is used in as productive a way as possible.

These different types of costing methods can also utilize average costing to analyze expenses involved with production. This type of cost analysis involves the overall costs of a manufacturing process, with relation to how many units are produced during that process, to establish the average cost per unit. The use of average costing analysis allows companies to more easily compare the costs of producing units before and after efforts are made to improve efficiency and reduce expenses.

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