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Costing Methods

Costing methods: this short article explains costing methods in a practical way. Next to what they are, this article also highlights key methods, advantages and disadvantages and tips. Enjoy reading!

Costing methods: this short article explains costing methods in a practical way. Next to what they are, this article also highlights key methods, advantages and disadvantages and tips. Enjoy reading!

What is a costing method?

A costing method is a systematic approach used to calculate the cost of goods or services. The goal is to accurately record all expenses associated with the production or delivery of a product or service.

There are several specific methods for costing that can be applied, depending on the nature of the production process and the decision-making environment.

These methods include process costing, order costing, direct costing, and throughput costing. Each method is suitable for different production scenarios and has an impact on the cost calculations.

It is important to note that the choice of costing method can have a significant impact on the resulting costs.

It is therefore crucial to use the right method for the intended purpose. For example, a costing method that is suitable for short-term pricing decisions may not be suitable for long-term strategic decision-making.


To get a better understanding, let’s briefly discuss some common expenses, or cost items, and their associated costing methods:

Direct materials

These are the raw materials that are used directly in the production process. The costing method used involves tracking and allocating the cost of materials consumed to each product or service.

Direct labor

This refers to the wages or salaries paid to the workers directly involved in the production process. Order costing is often used to allocate labor costs to specific products or services.

Production costs

This category includes various indirect costs incurred during production, such as utilities, rent, depreciation, and maintenance. Process costing is typically used to distribute these indirect costs across multiple units of output.

Non-production costs

This includes sales and administrative expenses not directly related to the production process. These costs are usually treated differently from production costs and can be allocated using different methods, such as activity-based costing.

By applying the right costing method and accurately allocating costs to products or services, companies can make informed decisions about their pricing, profitability analysis and resource allocation.

Key costing methods

Costing is the technique and process of determining costs. With this definition in mind, several methods have been developed to determine costs.

Listed below are a few key methods:

  • Job costing
  • Contract costing
  • Costing based on cost price plus profit
  • Serial production costing
  • Process costing
  • Unit (single or output) costing
  • Operating costing
  • Department costing
  • Composite costing
  • Operation costing

These methods are used to accurately allocate costs to specific projects, contracts, processes, departments or operations.

Each of these methods has its own scope and is used in different situations, depending on the nature of the activities and the decision-making process.

Advantages and disadvantages of costing methods


Accurate cost calculation
Costing methods provide a systematic approach to calculating costs, enabling companies to obtain accurate cost figures for their products or services.

They help make informed decisions regarding pricing, profitability analysis, resource allocation, and cost control.

Cost analysis
Costing methods allow companies to analyze various cost elements such as direct materials, direct labor, overhead, and non-manufacturing costs. This gives them insight into cost drivers and areas for improvement.

Cost control
By accurately identifying and allocating costs, costing methods facilitate effective cost control measures. This helps companies reduce costs and improve overall profitability.

Performance evaluation
Costing methods help evaluate the performance of different products, departments or projects. This enables companies to identify areas of efficiency and inefficiency.


Some methods for costing can be complex and require extensive data collection, analysis, and calculations. This complexity can present challenges for companies with limited resources or inexperienced staff.

Costing methods contain assumptions and estimates, which can introduce subjectivity into cost calculations. Incorrect assumptions or estimates can lead to incorrect cost figures and influence the decision-making process.

Cost allocation challenges
Allocating indirect costs, such as overhead, to products or services can be challenging. Different methods of costing can lead to different cost allocations, which can lead to discrepancies and possible misinterpretation of costs.

Limited scope
Costing methods may focus primarily on financial costs and may not account for other factors, such as environmental impact or social costs, which are increasingly important in today’s business environment.

Not all methods for costing are suitable for every company or industry. The selection of the appropriate costing method depends on factors such as the nature of the business, production processes and the desired level of detail for cost evaluation.

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