Activity-based Costing ABC vs Traditional Costing

activity based costing vs traditional costing

It is the most effective way to give accurate cost figures to managers. Both activity-based costing and traditional costing are effective in their respective area when it comes to accounting and chose by managers according to the need of the company. ABC is the most accurate and difficult to implement that’s why it is best suited for a company or firm with high overhead costs compared to a small company that offers services. Companies that manufacture a large number of products with different varieties prefer ABC because it gives exact data of the costs of every product. The main difference Activity-Based Costing and Traditional Costing is that Activity-Based Costing is a method of costing that focuses on activities.

So, at two orders per batch, that would be 160 supplier orders. So, if we’re going to make 80,000 units in the period, with 1,000 units in each batch, it’s nice and simple. What we’re asked to work out is the supplier ordering cost per unit of Product B, and we’ve got a range of different options, A through to D.

Difference Between ACH and EFT (With Table)

Activity-based costing and absorption costing are both valuable accounting methods. Analyzing costs can help companies make strategic, financially sound decisions.

What are the criticism of activity-based costing?

The principal drawback of the ABC approach is that it is extremely time-consuming. Open schools, colleges and universities are unlikely to have the capacity to design and carry out a detailed ABC study in-house and will, therefore, need to employ consultants for this purpose, which would be costly.

Traditionally, cost accountants had arbitrarily added a broad percentage of analysis into the indirect cost. In addition, activities include actions that are performed both by people and machine.

Define Activity-Based Costing ABC

Activity-based costing is used to get a better grasp on costs, allowing companies to form a more appropriate pricing strategy. There are multiple overhead cost pools, and each has its own unique measure of activity. This provides more accurate rates for applying overhead, but it takes more time to implement and results in a higher cost.

A more systematic approach, perhaps, is to review past activity levels and identify the month with the largest number of orders handled without excessive delays, poor quality, overtime, or stressed employees. Whichever approach you prefer, it’s important not to be overly sensitive to small errors. The objective is to be approximately right, say within 5% to 10% of the actual number, rather than precise. If the estimate of practical capacity is grossly in error, the process of running the time-driven ABC system will reveal the error over time. When there is a medium and large overhead size company then activity-based costing is the preferable option.


Activity-based costing focuses on identifying the activities required to make products, on forming cost pools for each activity, and on allocating overhead costs to the products based on their use of each activity. The Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Bangladesh defines activity-based costing as an accounting method which identifies the activities which a firm performs and then assigns indirect costs to cost objects. Traditional and activity-based costing methods have similarities and differences based on the production methods of a company. Learn about the costs in production and see the comparisons between traditional and activity-based costing systems. If your company only produces a few products or services then traditional costing maybe your best bet. But, if your company offers many different products or services, the more precise ABC costing method might be a better fit.

If you’d like a detailed look at your finances, or to determine where to cut costs, ABC costing will help you understand the cost flow of your business. At its core, ABC costing focuses on cost allocation and helps to separate fixed costs from variable costs and overhead costs. Splitting the costs helps identify cost drivers, which makes labour and materials easier to trace to products. His section presents an ABC version of the same product costing situation presented above as Traditional Costing. The examples show how ABC and traditional costing can yield different indirect cost estimates for the same products. This means the two approaches can also estimate product-specific profitability differently. Traditional costing method is easy to implement as a single cost driver is set for all activities and overheads are simply divided into fixed and variable overheads.

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The traditional costing method is to allocate the overhead products of the factory. It is one of the easiest costing methods as the process will activity based costing be simple and easier to implement. Activity-based costing is the most accurate, but it is also the most difficult and costly to implement.

activity based costing vs traditional costing

The purpose of Learn Any Difference is to provide the differences and comparisons so that it is easy to understand. ABC reports can’t be used for external reporting because they often don’t follow accepted accounting principles.