What is the Purpose of Cost Accounting?

what is cost accounting

Although most employees working for companies have heard of cost accounting, there is still a large number of professionals who remain unaware of the purpose of this practice. Why? Well, a lot of people are not required to possess skills versatile enough to include accounting. Nonetheless, understanding the basics purposes here can be quite advantageous.

Quantify Productivity

The first important purpose of cost accounting revolves around the quantification of productivity. In translation, it allows companies to tangibly record their employees’ performances based on the output levels. This is extremely useful as it can be utilized for important decisions that have to be made subsequently. For instance, if the productivity levels are experiencing a downward-slopping trend, accounting could help run analyses that pinpoint the underlying causes. Moreover, being able to figure out how well a business is performing through accounting strategies is easily the most convenient manner to gather data needed for change implementation.

Help With Decisions

Other than productivity, according to Forbes, cost accounting is also widely used to help managers derive important decisions about the business in general. To better understand this, consider the following scenario. If a business switches its suppliers and starts working with new raw materials, they will have to evaluate the efficiency of production using those fresh inputs. Fortunately, accountants can run fairly simple volume and price variance reports that showcase how the cost-to-benefit ratio is behaving. Thus, if the new raw materials are causing the workers to spend more time building the product, the volume variance may be unfavorable. From there, the accountant can create reports that will point the management in the right direction. In other words, cost accountancy will allow them to see actual statistics and crucial data that helps with material decisions.

Minimize Production Costs

Since the example of raw materials was mentioned, why exactly would companies try to something such as this? After all, completely disrupting the production process by getting new inputs is not a great way to improve operations. Regardless, producers are always in search of ways to minimize the costs. Doing so allows them to maintain as much of their revenues as possible. Expectedly, cost accounting will achieve this perfectly since it revolves around reports on profitability and alternative solution research. Therefore, those who check the historical figures searching for more beneficial resources would be unable to do so absent managerial accounting policies.

Sustainability Efforts

Finally, this profession also deals with the sustainability efforts related to production processes. Before explaining how, one must recognize that practically every company is looking for alternatives that will make them more sustainable and efficient. In translation, they are researching ways that facilitate lower or non-existent waste as well as higher utilization percentages. Regular types of accounting, however, seldom have anything to do with sustainability because they do not look at the future periods. Managerial style of accounting, on the other hand, is always dedicated to ranking best future alternatives in terms of cost, efficiency, and even longevity.


Some other important purposes of cost accounting include the verification of proper internal procedures, bridging the gap between people charged with governance, and managing employees fruitfully. Notwithstanding, starting the research of cost accounting with the aforementioned four objectives in mind will be a great way to gain an understanding fast.

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