Standard Cost: Definition, Calculation & Examples

Knowing what is expected, and when it is expected, allows for better plans and performance. When your performance does not match your expectations, a variance arises—a difference between the standard and the actual performance. You want to know why you did not receive the grade you expected so you how to determine the perfect marketing budget for your company can make adjustments for the next assignment to earn a better grade. For this purpose, management must take great care to study past information and data. If standards are not determined correctly, all further analysis, interpretation, and decisions will lead to confusion, conflicts, and losses.

Historical costing, which refers to the task of determining costs after they have been incurred, provides management with a record of what has happened. Current standard is established for a short period and is related to current conditions. Repetitive production – Industries where the methods of manufacture are repetitive and products are more or less homogeneous, e.g., agricultural and food products.

It includes direct material, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead costs. It is called the predetermined cost, estimated cost, expected cost, or the budgeted cost. Standard costing is a system of accounting that uses predetermined standard costs for direct material, direct labor, and factory overheads. It is the second cost control technique, the first being budgetary control. It is also one of the most recently developed refinements of cost accounting. The system of standard costing, thus, involves various steps—from the setting up of standards to finally exercising control over costs.

Standard costs are prepared and used to clarify the final results of a business. The efficiency of management depends on the control of costs, among other factors. To control costs effectively, management needs to know the actual cost, as well as the variation between the expected cost and actual cost. Many financial and cost accountants have agreed on the desirability of replacing standard cost accounting[citation needed]. The $240 variance is favorable since the company paid $0.08 per yard less than the standard cost per yard x the 3,000 yards of denim. Budgeting is an enormous challenge for all business owners, but that’s especially true for manufacturers who often deal with varying material costs, making it difficult to estimate expenses and profits.

  • Budgets are projections for the future and therefore they are of great use to the effective functioning of the standard costing system.
  • The Chocolate Cow Ice Cream Company has grown substantially recently, and management now feels the need to develop standards and compute variances.
  • An unfavorable variance involves spending more, or using more, than the anticipated or estimated standard.
  • The actual cost will always be different from the projected standard cost.
  • However, expert knowledge and skill is required for fixing standards.

The company could have paid too much or too little for production. It may have purchased the wrong grade of material or hired employees with more or less experience than required. For example, purchasing substandard materials may lead to using more time to make the product and may produce more scrap. The substandard material may have been more difficult to work with or had more defects than the proper grade material. In such a situation, a favorable material price variance could cause an unfavorable labor efficiency variance and an unfavorable material quantity variance. Employees who do not have the expected experience level may save money in the wage rate but may require more hours to be worked and more material to be used because of their inexperience.

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. The Chocolate Cow Ice Cream Company has grown substantially recently, and management now feels the need to develop standards and compute variances. A consulting firm was hired to develop the standards and the format for the variance computation. One standard in particular that the consulting firm developed seemed too excessive to plant management. The consulting firm’s standard was production of 100 gallons of ice cream every 45 minutes.

Standard Costing Advantages

The actual costs are collected in relation to each cost centre. Deviations between standard cost and actual cost are ascertained for each cost centre. This helps in establishing responsibility for adverse deviations. The standards should be fixed after a careful study of all technical processes and operations of the business. They should be fixed judiciously and should not be ideal but capable of being achieved. It will be appropriate to fix the responsibility of setting standards on a committee consisting of important persons such as Production Controller, Purchase Manager, Personnel Manager, Cost Accountant etc.

As such, standards should be realistic and capable of attainment. Any activity of recurring nature is susceptible for setting standards. Historical costs are costs whereby materials and labor may be allocated based on past experience. Predetermined costs are computed in advance on basis of factors affecting cost elements.

  • The consulting firm’s standard was production of 100 gallons of ice cream every 45 minutes.
  • You may include standard costs in a budget, but a budget might also include other things that aren’t directly related to the production costs of your product.
  • Management must take an interest in controlling costs and have an awareness of the merits.
  • Standards can be fixed for any element of cost e.g., material, labour, overheads etc.
  • For example, if it’s taking workers longer than planned to produce a product, that could indicate they need more training, or something else is going on that’s slowing up their work.

The main objective of fixing normal standard is to eliminate variations in the cost due to trade cycles. Industries where standardised and uniform work of repetitive nature is done are suitable for introduction of standard costing. Standard costing system is of little use or no use where works vary from job to job or contract to contract. (a) Ideal Standard – It reflects a level of attainment on the basis of maximum possible efficiency.

Cost standards are scientifically predetermined costs of products, components of products, processes, or operations. They are used as statistical bases for the evaluation of actual performance. A variance is the difference between the actual cost incurred and the standard cost against which it is measured.

Remember, actual profits might differ from projected profits if standard costs deviate significantly from actual costs. The standard cost is the average or anticipated cost of producing an item under normal circumstances. In other words, it’s what a business would normally spend to produce goods or services. The standard cost can be adjusted over time to account for variances between the anticipated and actual costs of production. Management would take into account every stage of production and their costs, and then make adjustments accordingly. If a company has a very complex manufacturing system, with multiple items being produced, it is often impossible to single out the standard costs for one product unit.

Standard Cost Approaches

Also, standard cost may be expressed in terms of money or other exact quantities. Standard costs also assist the management team when making decisions about long-term pricing. 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.

Introduction to Standard Costing

Since the calculation of variances can be difficult, we developed several business forms (for PRO members) to help you get started and to understand what the variances tell us. The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters. If you’re using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money.

Volume Variance:

Reliable relevant information are collected to ensure that standards are realistic. (i) Basic Standard – This standard is fixed for the base year. In it, all the principles of statistics apply which are used in Index numbers. These standard can be used where routines and operations are well established and working concessions do not change. Essentially, standard costing is a technique of cost calculation and control.


Standard cost serves as a measure against which actual cost is compared. If actual cost does not exceed standard cost, performance is treated as fully efficient. This reflects the view that a standard cost represents the best judgment of management about what costs the business operations will involve when undertaken efficiently. Standard costs are typically determined during the budgetary control process because they are useful for preparing flexible budgets and conducting performance evaluations.

Objectives of Using Standard Costing System

Analyzing a product unit can help a company determine its value, however, it would need to be done using actual costs as opposed to standard costs. Calculating inventory using standard costs is easier than using actual costs. This is because in reality, one batch of a product may cost more to produce than another batch of the exact same product. Maybe there were production delays on the line resulting in staff overtime to finish that second batch. Imagine these types of problems happening all the time, making it very difficult to keep track of the actuals. Companies use standard costs for budgeting because the actual costs cannot yet be determined.

Ideal standard is the standard which can be attained only in favorable condition not in practical one. This is because this standard is fixed with very high degree of efficiency. It assumes that performance of resources will always be perfect. But when actual cost is compared with such standard, huge variance arise. The first step for the implementation of standard costing is the cost centre.

Written by ODEY ALFRED

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