It has already been stated that there are two main methods used to determine costs. These are:
- Job cost method • Process cost method
It is possible to ascertain the costs under each of the above methods by two different ways:
- Historical costing
- Standard costing
Historical costing can be of the following two types in nature:
- Post costing
- Continuous costing
Post costing means ascertainment of cost after the production is completed. This is done by analyzing the financial accounts at the end of a period in such a way so as to disclose the cost of the units which have been produced.
For instance, if the cost of product A is to be calculated on this basis, one will have to wait till the materials are actually purchased and used, labor actually paid and overhead expenditure actually incurred. This system is used only for ascertaining the costs but not useful for exercising any control over costs, as one comes to know of things after they had taken place. It can serve as
guidance for future production only when conditions in future continue to be the same.
In case of this method, cost is ascertained as soon as a job is completed or even when a job is in progress. This is done usually before a job is over or product is made. In the process, actual expenditure on materials and wages and share of overheads are also estimated. Hence, the figure of cost ascertained in this case is not exact. But it has an advantage of providing cost information to the management promptly, thereby enabling it to take necessary corrective action on time. However, it neither provides any standard for judging current efficiency nor does it disclose what the cost of a job ought to have been.
Standard costing is a system under which the cost of a product is determined in advance on certain pre-determined standards. With reference to the example given in post costing, the cost of product A can be calculated in advance if one is in a position to estimate in advance the material labor and overheads that should be incurred over the product. All this requires an efficient system of cost accounting. However, this system will not be useful if a vigorous system of controlling costs and standard costs are not in force. Standard costing is becoming more and more popular nowadays.