What is relevant cost? How to measure and weigh business decisions

Home » What is relevant cost? How to measure and weigh business decisions

Assume, for example, a chain of retail sporting goods stores is considering closing a group of stores catering to the outdoor sports market. The relevant costs are the costs that can be eliminated due to the closure, as well as the revenue lost when the stores are closed. If the costs to be eliminated are greater than the revenue lost, the outdoor stores should be closed.

Fixed overhead and sunk costs are examples of irrelevant costs that would not affect the decision to shut down a division of a company, or make a product instead of purchasing it from a supplier. Likewise, the wages of employees retained after the sale of a division would be irrelevant to the decision to sell it. By analyzing the relevant costs, manufacturers can determine if outsourcing is a financially viable option that will result in increased profitability. Irrelevant costs are costs, either positive or negative, that would not be affected by a management decision. Irrelevant costs, such as fixed overhead and sunk costs, are therefore ignored when that decision is made. However, it’s critical for a manager to be able to distinguish an irrelevant cost in order to potentially save the business.

  • A matter is relevant if there is a change in cash flow that is caused by the decision.
  • The book value of a machine is a sunk cost that does not affect a decision involving its replacement.
  • As supervisor’s salary is a fixed cost unchanged by the work performed on this order, it is a non-relevant cost.
  • Manufacturers may overlook variable costs, leading to inaccurate profitability assessments.
  • A change in the cash flow can be identified by asking if the amounts that would appear on the company’s bank statement are affected by the decision, whether increased or decreased.

He is a four-time Dummies book author, a blogger, and a video host on accounting and finance topics. Manufacturing companies operate in a complex environment where they must make critical decisions that can impact their profitability and overall success. This represents the apportionment of general and administrative overheads based on the number of machine hours that will be required on the order. Direct labor is paid idle time equal to 60% of the normal pay in order to retain them.

Underestimating Indirect Costs

The level of energy consumption required for the manufacturing process and the availability of different energy sources can impact the cost. Labor costs are another relevant cost in manufacturing that can vary between different industries. For example, the labor cost in the textile industry may differ from that in the semiconductor industry. The complexity of the manufacturing process and the skill level required for the workforce can impact the cost of labor.

Non-Cash ExpensesNon-cash expenses such as depreciation are not relevant because they do not affect the cash flows of a business. Committed CostsFuture costs that cannot be avoided are not relevant because they will be incurred irrespective of the business decision bieng considered. Future Cash FlowsCash expense that will be incurred in the future as a result of a decision is a relevant cost. When making a decision, one must take into account and weigh all relevant costs. These costs will have to be compared to the contribution that can be earned by the new machine to determine if the overall investment in the asset is financially viable. Annual insurance cost – this is a relevant cost as this is an additional fixed cost caused by the decision to invest.


Additionally, changes in market conditions can impact relevant costs, and manufacturers need to be proactive in monitoring these changes and adjusting their decisions accordingly. Technology has enabled manufacturers to use predictive analytics to anticipate changes in relevant costs. Manufacturers can analyze historical data to identify patterns and trends with advanced algorithms and machine learning.

Cost Tracking and Accounting

Sunk costs are costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered. These costs are irrelevant in decision-making processes because they cannot be changed or impacted by future decisions. One of the main reasons why manufacturers need to consider relevant costs is that it allows them to make more informed decisions.

Relevant Costs

The order would require 3000 units of electricity which is expected to cost $8,000. General OverheadsGeneral and administrative overheads which are not affected by the decisions under consideration should be ignored. Therefore, the closure of Production Line B is not a good idea as the revenue free wave accounting alternative lost is greater than the value of the costs saved. Next we should consider whether the components should be further processed into the products. This represents the share of lease rentals of the factory plant for the number of days in which production for the order will take place.

Quality control costs are another relevant cost impacting the decision to outsource or keep production in-house if quality control costs are lower in a foreign country. However, if quality control costs are relatively low in the domestic market, keeping production in-house may be the better choice. Equipment costs are another relevant cost that can impact the decision to outsource or keep production in-house. If the cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment is lower in a foreign country, outsourcing may be the more cost-effective option. However, if equipment costs are relatively low in the domestic market, keeping production in-house may be the better choice.

Technology has enabled manufacturers to collect and analyze large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. With sensors, automation, and advanced analytics software, manufacturers can track various aspects of the production process, including raw materials usage, labor costs, and equipment efficiency. This data can identify and analyze relevant costs in real-time, enabling manufacturers to make informed decisions quickly. Fluctuations in the prices of raw materials can significantly impact relevant costs in manufacturing.

The distance between suppliers and manufacturers, the size and weight of the products, and the transportation methods used can impact the cost. In addition to these internal stakeholders, external consultants may be brought in to assist with identifying and analyzing relevant costs. These consultants may have specialized knowledge or expertise to help the organization make more informed decisions. Another potential disadvantage of considering relevant costs in manufacturing is that it can be challenging to predict how market conditions will change over time. This complex process requires careful analysis of various factors, including market conditions, production costs, and other variables.

Depreciation is not a cash flow and is dependent on past purchases and somewhat arbitrary depreciation rates. By the same argument, book values are not relevant as these are simply the result of historical costs (or historical revaluation) and depreciation. Irrespective of what treatment is used in the company’s management accounts to split up costs, if the total costs remain the same, there is no cash flow effect caused by the decision. Classifying costs as either irrelevant or relevant is useful for managers making decisions about the profitability of different alternatives. Costs that stay the same, regardless of which alternative is chosen, are irrelevant to the decision being made.

The material has no use in the company other than for the project under consideration. A matter is relevant if there is a change in cash flow that is caused by the decision. Managers are responsible for identifying potential decisions that may impact the company’s profitability. For example, if a manufacturer has already invested in a piece of equipment that is no longer being used, the cost of that equipment would be considered a sunk cost. For example, the skilled labour which may be needed on a new project might have to be withdrawn from normal production. This withdrawal would cause a loss in contribution which is obviously relevant to the project appraisal.

Examples of sunk costs include the cost of purchasing equipment that has already been installed or the cost of training employees who have already been trained. Non cash flow costs are costs which do not involve the flow of cash, for example, depreciation and notional costs. This cost will only appear in the accounts of the organisation but will not result in a ‘real’ cash expenditure. Relevant costing is just a refined application of such basic principles to business decisions. The key to relevant costing is the ability to filter what is and isn’t relevant to a business decision. For example, assume you had been talked into buying a discount card of ABC Pizza for $50 which entitles you to a 10% discount on all future purchases.

Costs that have already been incurred as a result of past decisions (sunk costs) are not relevant for decision making. Likewise, a future cost that will not be changed by a decision is irrelevant to that decision. Manufacturers may overlook variable costs, leading to inaccurate profitability assessments.

A relevant cost is any cost that will be different among various alternatives. There is seldom a “one-size fits all” situation for relevant or irrelevant costs. The rent, which gives the business the legal right to occupy the building, provides 15,000 square feet of retail and storage space. Not every cost is important to every decision a manager needs to make; hence, the distinction between relevant and irrelevant costs.

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