Standard costing and variance analysis case study


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Standard costing and variance analysis case study

  1. 1. Standard Costing and Variance Analysis Case Study: 1. Case A: Effect of assumed standard levels 2. Case B: Factory overhead variance analysis Case A: Effect of Assumed Standard Levels: Harden Company has experienced increased production costs. The primary area of concern identified by management is direct labor. The company is considering adopting a standard cost system to help control labor and other costs. Useful historical data are not available because detailed production records have not been maintained. To establish labor standards, Harden Company has retained an engineering consulting firm. After a complete study of the work process, the consultants recommended a labor standard of one unit of production every 30 minutes, or 16 units per day for each worker. The consultants further advised that Harden's wage rates were below the prevailing rate of $ per hour. Harden's production vice-president thought that this labor standard was too tight, and from experience with the labor force, believed that a labor standard of 40 minutes per unit or 12 units per day for each worker would be more reasonable. The president of Harden Company believed the standard should be set at a high level to motivate the workers and to provide adequate information for control and reasonable cost comparison. After much discussion, management decided to use a dual standard. The labor standard of one unit every 30 minutes, recommended by the consulting firm, would be employed in the plant as a motivation device, while a cost standard of 40 minutes per unit would be used in reporting. Management also concluded that the workers would not be informed of the cost standard used for reporting purposes. The production vice-president conducted several sessions prior to implementation in the plant, informing the workers of the new standard cost system and answering questions. The new standards were not related to incentive pay but were introduced when wages were increased to $7 per hour. The standard cost system was implemented on January 1, 19--. At the end of six months of operation, these statistics on labor performance were presented to executive management: January February March April May June Production (units) 5,100 5,000 4,700 4,500 4,300 4,400 Direct labor hours 3,000 2,900 2,900 3,000 3,000 3,100 Quantity Variances: Variance based on labor standard (one unit each 30 minutes) $3150 U* $2,800 U $3,850 U $5,250U $5,950 U $6,300 U Variance based on cost standard (one unit each 40 minutes) $2,800 F $3,033 F $1,633 F -0- $933U $1,167 U *U = Unfavorable; F = Favorable
  2. 2. Materials quality, labor mix, and plant facilities and conditions have not changed to any great extent during the six month period. Required: 1. A discussion of the impact of different types of standards on motivations, and specifically the likely effect on motivation of adopting the labor standard recommended for Harden Company by the engineering firm. 2. An evaluation of Harden Company's decision to employ dual standards in its standard cost system. Answer: 1. Standards are often classified into three types - theoretical (tight), normal (reasonable), or expected actual (loose). Standards which are too loose or too tight will generally have a negative impact on workers motivation. If too loose, workers will tend to set their goals at this low rate, thus reducing productivity below what is obtainable; if too tight, workers will realize that it is impossible to attain the standard, become frustrated, and will not attempt to meet the standard. An attainable or reasonable standard which can be achieved under normal working conditions is likely to contribute to the worker's motivation to achieve the designated level of activity. If executive management imposes standards, workers and plant management will tend to react negatively because they feel threatened. If workers and plant management participate in setting the standard, they can more readily identify with it and it could become one of their personal goals. In Harden's case, it appears that the standard was imposed on the workers by management. In addition, management used an ideal standard to measure performance. Both of these actions appear to have had a negative impact on output over the first six months. 2. Harden made a poor decision to use dual standards. If the workers learn of the dual standards, the company's entire measurement system may may become suspect and credibility will be lost. Company morale could suffer because the workers would not know for sure how the company evaluates their performance. as a result, disregard for the present and any future cost control system may develop.
  3. 3. Case B: Factory Overhead Variance Analysis: Strayer Company uses a standard cost system and budgets the following sales and costs for 19-- Unit sales 20,000 Sales $2,00,000 Total production cost at standard 130,000 Gross profit 70,000 Beginning inventories None Ending inventories None The 19-- budgeted sales level was the normal capacity level used in calculating the factory overhead predetermined standard cost rate per direct labor hour. At the end of 19--, Strayer Company reported production and sales of 19,200 units. Total factory overhead incurred was exactly equal to budgeted factory overhead for the year and there was under-applied total factory overhead of $2,000 at December 31. Factory overhead is applied to the work in process inventory on the basis of standard direct labor hours allowed for units produced. Although there was a favorable labor efficiency variance, there was neither a labor rate variance nor materials variances for the year. Require: An explanation of the under-applied factory overhead of $2,000, being as specific as the data permit and indicating the overhead variances affected. Strayer uses a three variance method to analyze the total factory overhead. Answer: Under-applied factory overhead will arise when actual factory overhead incurred is larger than the standard amount of factory overhead applied to work in process. The standard amount of factory overhead applied to work in process is based on actual rather than on budgeted units of output. Based on the information given, the sum of the factory overhead spending, efficiency, and idle capacity variances resulted in an unfavorable total factory overhead variance of $2,000. The factory overhead efficiency variance must be favorable because it is computed on the same basis as the direct labor efficiency variance which was given as favorable. Strayer would have an unfavorable idle capacity variance because the actual activity level for the year was less than the capacity level used in calculating the standard cost rate for factory overhead. As to the factory overhead spending variance, the balance would be unfavorable because actual costs would have had to exceed the budgeted cost of the actual units produced since
  4. 4. the budget allowance for production of 19,200 units must be less than for 20,000 units and the actual costs were exactly equal to the budget allowance for 20,000 units. The magnitude of the spending variance is indeterminate from the information given. Standard Costing System Discussion Questions and Answers: Questions: 1. (a) Define standard costs. (b) Name some advantages of standard cost system. See answer 2. A team of management consultants and company executives concluded that a standard cost installation was desirable vehicle for accomplishing the objectives of a progressive management. State some uses of standard costs that can be associated with the above decision. See answer 3. Does a standard cost system increases or decreases the amount of accounting and clerical effort and expense required to prepare cost reports and financial statements? See answer 4. Is a standard cost system equally applicable to job order costing and process costing system? See answer 5. A conference speaker discussing budgets and standard costs made the following statement: "Budgets and standards are not the same thing. They have different purposes and are set up and used in different ways ; yet a specific relationship exists between them." (a) Identify distinctions or differences between budgets and standards. (b) Identify similarities between budgets and standards. See answer 6. The use of standard costs in pricing and budgeting is quite valuable since decisions in the fields of pricing and budgetary planning are made before the costs under consideration are incurred. Discuss. See answer 7. Explain how materials, labor and factory overhead standards are set, including the types of people involved and the method used. See answer
  5. 5. 8. What type of variances are computed for materials, labor, and factory overhead? See answer 9. In a paper mill, materials specification standards are set up for various grades of pulp and secondary furnish (waste paper) for each grade and kind of paper produced. Yet at regular intervals the cost accountant is able to determine a materials mix variance. Why does a mix variance occurs? See answer 10. How does the calculation of a mix variance differ from that of a quantity variance? See answer 11. A cost standard in a process industry is often based on an assumed yield rate. Any difference in actual yield from standard yield will produce a yield variance. Express this variance in formula form. See answer 12. Select the answer which best completes the statement: (a) A purpose of standard costing is to: (1) determine the break even production level; (2) control costs; (3) eliminate the need for subjective decisions by management ; (4) allocate cost more accurately. (b) A company employing very tight (theoretical) standards in a standard costing system should expect that : (1) a large incentive bonus will be paid; (2) most variances will be unfavorable; (3) employees will be strongly motivated to attain the standards; (4) costs will be controlled better than if lower standards were used. (c) Of the different types of standards listed below, the one which best describes labor costs that should be incurred under forthcoming efficient operating conditions is : (1) ideal; (2) basic; (3) maximum efficiency; (4) normal. (d) In standard costing, standard hours allowed is a means of measuring: (1) standard output at standard hours; (2) actual output at standard hours; (3) standard output at actual hours; (4) actual output at actual hours. (e) In preparing cost report at standard for process costing: (1) equivalent units are not used; (2) equivalent units are computed using an approach that ignores inventories; (3) the actual equivalent units are multiplied by the standard cost per unit; (4) the standard equivalent units are multiplied by the actual cost per unit. (f) In a standard cost system, the materials purchase price variance is obtained by multiplying the: (1) actual price by the difference between actual quantity purchased and standard quantity allowed; (2) actual quantity purchased by the difference between actual price and standard price; (3) standard price by the difference between standard quantity purchased and standard quantity allowed; (4) standard quantity purchased by the difference between actual price and standard price. (g) A favorable labor efficiency variance indicates: (1) the average wage rate paid was less than the standard rate; (2) the standard labor hours allowed were greater than the actual labor hours used; (3) the actual total labor cost incurred was less than the standard labor cost allowed for the units produced; (4) the number of units produced was less than the number of units budgeted for the period.
  6. 6. (h) Given below are notations and their respective meanings: AH = Actual hours SHA = Standard hours allowed for actual production AR = Actual rate SR = Standard rate The formula that represents the labor efficiency variance is: (1) SR × (AH – SHA); (2) AR × (AH – SHA); (3) AH × (AR – SR); (4) SHA × (AR – SR). (i) The standard cost variance representing the difference between actual factory overhead incurred and budgeted factory overhead based on actual hours worked is the (1) volume variance; (2) spending variance; (3) efficiency variance; (4) quantity variance. (j) The fixed portion of the standard factory overhead application rate is a function of a predetermined "normal" activity level. If standard hours allowed for good output equal this normal activity level for a given period, the volume variance will be: (1) zero; (2) favorable; (3) unfavorable; (4) either favorable or unfavorable, depending on the budgeted overhead. See answer Answers: 1. (a) Standard costs are the predetermined costs of manufacturing products during a specific period under current or anticipated operating conditions. Standards aid in planning and controlling operations. (b) The advantages of a standard cost system include the following: 1. The process in itself often discloses inefficiencies, because the setting of standards requires a thorough analysis of all cost functions. 2. The process of setting standards forces management to plan efficient and economical operations. 3. Standard costs establish clearly defined lines of cost responsibility and authority. 4. Standard costs are likely to be an important aid to management in obtaining acceptable job performance by providing a clear idea as to what constitutes acceptable performance. 5. Variances between actual performance and standard costs facilitate control through the application of the principle of exception. 6. Faster reporting of operating data is possible; the shortened time between action and the availability of control information helps management to prevent the development of unfavorable cost trends. 2. A few uses of standard costs are: (a) Establishing budgets. (b) Controlling costs and motivating and measuring efficiencies. (c) Promoting cost reduction. (d) Simplifying cost procedures and expediting cost reports. (e) Assigning costs to inventories. (f) Setting sales prices. 3. In some way a standard cost system reduces clerical work. Variance reports add new tasks, which may make expenses about equal. The fact that more information is available about the operations of the business should be of greater value than the expenses of operating the accounting system.
  7. 7. 4. Yes, standard costs can be used either in job order costing where the cost of specific jobs put through a factory is ascertained, or process costing where the cost of production in one or more manufacturing departments for a given period of time is determined. a standard cost system applied to either job order or process costing will bring the added advantage of cost analysis hitherto unavailable. 5. (a) Budgets and standards are not the same thing; yet a specific relationship exists between them. The first difference between budgets and standards is one of purpose. Budgets are statements of expected cost. At the beginning of a given period, they are used to forecast requirements of finance, work force, and other variables related to production and sales. Later in a given period, they are used as comparison to be sure that actual costs are not exceeding expectations. Standard costs, on the other hand, do not necessarily show what costs may be expected to be, but rather, what they might be if certain highly desirable performance are attained. For this reason they cannot be used alone for forecasting. The second difference between budgets and standards is one of emphasis. A budget emphasizes cost levels that should not be exceeded. If they are exceeded, then the whole foundation upon which profits are predicted is jeopardized. But a standard emphasizes the levels to which costs should be reduced. I these levels are reached, profits are increased. Costs are not to exceed budget; they are to approach standards. A third difference is on of completeness. Budgets are customarily set for all departments in the company, from sales to manufacturing. Standards, however, are often set only for the manufacturing divisions. Budgets customarily include both income and expense, whereas standards are more frequently set for expenses or costs only. A fourth difference is one of analysis and breakdown. When cost differs from budget, a lower cost indicates good performance; a higher cost tells of a perilous situation. But when actual cost differs in any marked degree from standards, the nature and cause of the variance should be investigated so that needed corrective steps may be taken in time. These difference may be summarized by saying that a budget is a marker for keeping out of trouble, whereas a standard is a compass that points the way to improvements. (b) Although standards and budgets have certain differences, they possess similarities which are of such a nature that the existence of standard costs greatly facilitates budget preparation. The first similarity is that both budgets and standards attempt to predetermine expenses. The budget and the standards have been set by records of current operational methods or procedures and have not just been set by hopes for so-called "good production." Second, both consider departmental expenses according to accounts. generally speaking, all departments have their sub-accounts. They have been budgeted for a certain amount to be spent for specific uses. If there are cost differences, they should be investigated at the time they are happening. Third similarity is that both assume costs are controllable along direct lines of supervision and responsibility. Supervisors are responsible to manage not only for production but also for cost of production. Supervisors should be aware of the budget as well as the standards for their departments. Finally, both require the issuance of periodic comparative cost reports. When the costs are much higher or lower than the budgeted amount and are controlled by standards, these differences should be broken down to show management specific reasons for these differences at each interim reporting period. Budgets are similar to standard costs in their methods of approach and
  8. 8. measurement. If standard costs are known, budgeted costs can be derived from them by the application of ratios. 6. To set sales prices, executives need cost information furnished by the accounting department. Since standard costs represent the cost that should be attained in a well managed plant operated at normal capacity, they are ideally suited for furnishing information which will enable the sales departments to price products. Budgets are used for planning and coordinating future activities and for controlling current activities. When budget figures are based on standard costs, the accuracy of the resulting budget is strongly influenced by the reliability of the standard costs. With standards available, production figures can be translated into the manufacturing costs. 7. Materials - Materials price standards in most cases should be set by the purchasing officer. Because prices are determined by the external influences, setting price standards is mainly a task of accurate prediction. Materials quantity standards should be set by engineers responsible for product design. In setting these standards, companies may use engineering studies, sample runs, historical studies, or a combination thereof depending on specific materials and plant conditions. Labor - Labor rates are often a result of union negotiations and should be obtained from the personnel department. Labor time standards are set by properly trained and experienced methods engineers using time and motion studies. Factory Overhead - Variable factory overhead standards are based on the company's flexible budget. The fixed overhead standard is based on the company's budget for fixed factory overhead, divided by an appropriate measure of activity. 8. Materials: Price and quantity variance Labor: Rate and efficiency variance Factory overhead: (1) Controllable and volume variance (2) Spending variance, idle capacity variance, efficiency variance (3) Spending variance, variable overhead efficiency variance, Fixed overhead efficiency variance, Idle capacity variance. Mix and yield variances also can be calculated for the cost elements. 9. Although specifications are established primarily by the laboratory, mix changes are made when production people feel the less costly grades of furnish or even pulp can be used satisfactorily. Production people hope, of course, that the final result will still be the same high quality product. The difference between the engineered laboratory standard and the actual usage at different standard costs results in a mix variance. 10. The quantity variance is the result of comparing actual quantity at standard cost with standard quantity at standard cost. The mix variance results when actual input is used in ratios or quantities different from standard specifications at standard cost. 11. The yield variance is the difference between actual and standard (or expected) yield multiplied by the standard value of product (or production). the formula is: Yield variance = (Actual yield – standard yield) × weighted average of standard materials cost 12. (a) 2; (b) 2; (c) 4; (d) 2; (e) 3; (f) 2; (g) 2 (h) 1; (i) 2; (j) 1