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Measuring Costs

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					Measuring Costs



Measuring profits or net income is the most important thing accountants do. The second
most important task is measuring costs. Costs are extremely important to running a business
and managing them effectively can make a substantial difference in a company's bottom line.



Any business that sells products needs to know its product costs and depending on what is
being manufactured and/or sold, it can get complicated. Every step in the production
process has to be tracked carefully from start to finish. Many manufacturing costs cannot be
directly matched with particular products; these are called indirect costs. To calculate the
full cost of each product manufactured, accountants devise methods for allocating indirect
production costs to specific products. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
provide few guidelines for measuring product cost.



Accountants need to determine many other costs, in addition to product costs, such as the
costs of the departments and other organizational units of the business; the cost of the
retirement plan for the company's employees; the cost of marketing and advertising; the
cost of restructuring the business or the cost of a major recall of products sold by the
company, should that ever become necessary.



Cost accounting serves two broad purposes: measuring profit and furnishing relevant
information to managers. What makes it confusing is that there's no one set method for
measuring and reporting costs, although accuracy is paramount. Cost accounting can fall
anywhere on a continuum between conservative or expansive. The phrase actual cost
depends entirely on the particular methods used to measure cost. These can often be as
subjective and nebulous as some systems for judging sports. Again accuracy is extremely
important. The total cost of goods or products sold is the first and usually largest expense
deducted from sales revenue in measuring profit.

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DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Anyone who's worked in an office at some point or another has had to go to accounting. They're the people who pay and send out the bills that keep the business running. They do a lot more than that, though. Sometimes referred to as "bean counters" they also keep their eye on profits, costs and losses. Unless you're running your own business and acting as your own accountant, you'd have no way of knowing just how profitable - or not - your business is without some form of accounting.