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This is a€?How Do Managers Evaluate Performance Using Cost Variance Analysis?a€?, chapter 10 from the book Accounting for Managers (v. This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.
PDF copies of this book were generated using Prince, a great tool for making PDFs out of HTML and CSS. For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. DonorsChoose.org helps people like you help teachers fund their classroom projects, from art supplies to books to calculators. Jerry is evaluating the performance of his company by comparing actual costs to budgeted costs. Question: The master budget in Chapter 9 "How Are Operating Budgets Created?" was prepared for only one level of activity (activity was measured by the number of units sold, which was budgeted at 200,000 units). Question: Imagine being the production manager at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream, and you are evaluated based on the quantity of direct materials used in production. A flexible budget is a revised master budget that represents expected costs given actual sales. What is a flexible budget, and why do companies use a flexible budget to evaluate production managers?
A flexible budget is a revised master budget based on the actual activity level achieved for a period. Answer: Standard costsCosts that management expects to incur to provide a good or service and are typically stated as a cost per unit.
These standard costs can then be used to establish a flexible budget based on a given level of activity.
The standard cost presented in Figure 10.1 "Standard Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream" shows the variable production costs expected to produce one unit. Question: What are the components needed to establish a standard cost for direct materials, direct labor, and variable manufacturing overhead? As we explain next, there are many approaches to establishing these six standards for direct materials, direct labor, and variable manufacturing overhead (we discuss fixed manufacturing overhead at the end of this chapter). Question: How do organizations determine the standard quantity and standard price for direct materials?
Answer: The standard quantity for direct materialsThe quantity of materials required to complete one good unit of product. As shown in Figure 10.1 "Standard Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream", for Jerrya€™s Ice Cream, the standard quantity of direct materials is 2 pounds per unit, and the standard price is $1 per pound.
Question: How do organizations determine the standard hours and standard rate for direct labor? Answer: The standard hoursThe direct labor time required to complete one good unit of product. The standard rate for direct laborThe average cost of wages and benefits for each hour of direct labor work performed.
Question: How do organizations determine the standard quantity and standard rate for variable manufacturing overhead? Answer: The standard quantity for variable manufacturing overheadThe time, typically measured in direct labor hours or machine hours depending on the allocation base, required to complete one good unit of product.
The standard rate for variable manufacturing overheadThe variable portion of the predetermined overhead rate used to allocate overhead cost to products. Question: In the process of establishing standards, managers must decide between using ideal standards or attainable standards. Answer: Ideal standardsStandards set assuming production conditions are perfect with no inefficiencies. Answer: Companies typically use standards to analyze the difference between budgeted costs and actual costs.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) imposes a a€?salary capa€? that dictates a maximum dollar amount each team can pay its players collectively in one season. Imagine being the manager of the Boston Celtics and having to pay one player almost half of your entire budget! Recall from the review problems in Chapter 9 "How Are Operating Budgets Created?" that Carola€™s Cookies produces cookies for resale at grocery stores throughout North America.
Calculate the standard cost per unit for direct materials, direct labor, and variable manufacturing overhead using the format shown in Figure 10.1 "Standard Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream". Prepare a flexible budget based on actual sales for direct materials, direct labor, and variable manufacturing overhead using the format shown in Figure 10.2 "Flexible Budget for Variable Production Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream". Question: In the dialogue at the beginning of the chapter, the president of Jerrya€™s Ice Cream was concerned about significant cost overruns for direct materials. To this point, we have provided the data for Jerrya€™s Ice Cream necessary to calculate standard costs. Recall from Figure 10.1 "Standard Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream" that the direct materials standard price for Jerrya€™s is $1 per pound, and the standard quantity of direct materials is 2 pounds per unit. Question: The materials price variance answers the question, did we spend more or less on direct materials than expected? Note that both approachesa€”the direct materials price variance calculation and the alternative calculationa€”yield the same result.
Question: The materials quantity variance answers the question, did we use more or fewer direct materials in production than expected?
The standard quantity of 420,000 pounds is the quantity of materials allowed given actual production. Note that both approachesa€”the direct materials quantity variance calculation and the alternative calculationa€”yield the same result.
The materials quantity variance calculation presented previously shows the actual quantity used in production of 399,000 pounds is lower than the expected (budgeted) quantity of 420,000 pounds. Question: The managerial accountant at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream will likely investigate the cause of the unfavorable materials price variance of $88,000. Whatever the cause of this unfavorable variance, Jerrya€™s Ice Cream will likely take action to improve the cost problem identified in the materials price variance analysis. Question: Jerrya€™s Ice Cream might also choose to investigate the $21,000 favorable materials quantity variance.
In the first six months of 2004, steel prices increased 76 percent, from $350 a ton to $617 a ton. These thin margins are the reason auto suppliers examine direct materials variances so carefully. Answer: The terms favorable and unfavorable relate to the impact the variance has on budgeted operating profit. Carola€™s Cookies expected to use 1.5 pounds of direct materials to produce 1 unit (batch) of product at a cost of $2 per pound.
Calculate the materials price and quantity variances using the format shown in Figure 10.4 "Direct Materials Variance Analysis for Jerrya€™s Ice Cream". Use the alternative approach to calculating the materials price and quantity variances, and compare the result to the result in part 1.
As shown in the following, the materials price variance is $(128,000) favorable, and the materials quantity variance is $78,000 unfavorable. Question: In addition to investigating the causes of cost overruns for direct materials, the president of Jerrya€™s Ice Cream wants to know why there were cost overruns for direct labor. Question: The direct labor rate variance answers the question, did we spend more or less on direct labor than expected? Note that both approachesa€”direct labor rate variance calculation and the alternative calculationa€”yield the same result.
As with direct materials variances, all positive variances are unfavorable, and all negative variances are favorable. Question: The direct labor efficiency variance answers the question, did we use more or less direct labor hours in production than expected? Note that both approachesa€”the direct labor efficiency variance calculation and the alternative calculationa€”yield the same result. The labor efficiency variance calculation presented previously shows that 18,900 in actual hours worked is lower than the 21,000 budgeted hours. Question: The managerial accountant at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream is interested in finding the cause of the unfavorable labor rate variance of $37,800. We have demonstrated how important it is for managers to be aware not only of the cost of labor, but also of the differences between budgeted labor costs and actual labor costs. United Airlines asked a bankruptcy court to allow a one-time 4 percent pay cut for pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, flight controllers, and ticket agents.


After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2002, United cut close to $5,000,000,000 in annual expenditures. Source: Associated Press, a€?United May Seek End to Union Contracts,a€? USA Today, November 25, 2004.
Jerry (president and owner), Tom (sales manager), Lynn (production manager), and Michelle (treasurer and controller) were at the meeting described at the opening of this chapter. My staff has been working hard to identify why direct materials and direct labor costs were higher than expected. The answer relates directly to the price we paid for materials, and the hourly rates we paid for labor.
I do recall Tony over in purchasing telling me he obtained some premium materials for our ice cream, and I know we hired some relatively experienced workers who were paid a bit more than the normal starting rate. While I like the end result of a higher-quality product and increased sales, we must do a better job of controlling costs.
Carola€™s Cookies expected to use 0.20 direct labor hours to produce 1 unit (batch) of product at a cost of $12 per hour.
Calculate the labor rate and efficiency variances using the format shown in Figure 10.6 "Direct Labor Variance Analysis for Jerrya€™s Ice Cream". Use the alternative approach to calculating the labor rate and efficiency variances, and compare the result to the result in part 1. As shown in the following, the labor rate variance is $(97,500) favorable, and the labor efficiency variance is $234,000 unfavorable. See the license for more details, but that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below), don't make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms. However, the publisher has asked for the customary Creative Commons attribution to the original publisher, authors, title, and book URI to be removed. My production crew used fewer materials than was budgeted, and the average time it took to make each unit was also less than expected. Total costs for direct labor and direct materials were higher than budgeted, even after considering the increase in sales. I want to know what caused the increase in costs and how to prevent this from taking place in the future. Although this works well in the planning phase of budgeting, it is not appropriate for the control phase. Would it be fair to compare the materials used to produce 210,000 units with the master budget showing the materials that should have been used to produce 200,400 units? The budget should be adjusted upward to reflect the actual number of units produced before a comparison is made, thus the term flexible budget.
The master budget is established before the period begins for planning purposes, and the flexible budget is established after the period ends for control and evaluation purposes.
Standard cost is based on the combination of a price (or rate) standard and quantity (or hours) standard.
Variable overhead cost per direct labor hour is calculated by dividing total variable overhead costs of $100,200 (from the manufacturing overhead budget in Chapter 9 "How Are Operating Budgets Created?") by 20,040 total direct labor hours (from the direct labor budget in Chapter 9 "How Are Operating Budgets Created?"), which results in a standard variable overhead rate of $5 per direct labor hour. The flexible budget in Figure 10.2 "Flexible Budget for Variable Production Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream" uses the standard cost information to show the variable production costs expected in total given a certain level of activity (210,000 units in this example). Attainable standardsStandards that are more realistic than ideal standards by taking into consideration the likelihood of encountering problems in production such as machine downtime, materials waste, and employee illness. The process of analyzing differences between standard costs and actual costs is called variance analysisUsing standards to analyze the difference between budgeted costs and actual costs.. Companies using standard costing systems are able to estimate product costs without having to wait for actual product cost data, and they often record transactions using standard cost information.
The salary cap is based on a percentage of basketball-related income and was set at $57,700,000 per team for the 2009a€“10 season.
Clearly, controlling costs in this type of business environment is a challenge, and budgeting is a crucial element in achieving financial success.
Manufacturing companies often establish standard costs for direct labor, direct materials, and manufacturing overhead. We established a master budget indicating Carol expects to use 1.5 pounds of direct materials for each unit produced at a cost of $2 per pound (1 unit = 1 batch of cookies). We cannot simply explain these costs by saying that a€?we paid too much for materialsa€? or a€?too many materials were used in production.a€? Variances must be calculated to identify the exact cause of the cost overrun. The materials price varianceThe difference between actual costs for materials purchased and budgeted costs based on the standards.
However, you must also have the actual materials cost and materials quantity data to calculate the variances described previously.
Figure 10.4 "Direct Materials Variance Analysis for Jerrya€™s Ice Cream" shows how to calculate the materials price and quantity variances given the actual results and standards information. Variance is unfavorable because the actual price of $1.20 is higher than the expected (budgeted) price of $1. Variance is favorable because the actual quantity of materials used in production of 399,000 pounds is lower than the expected (budgeted) quantity of 420,000 pounds.
As you calculate variances, you should think through the variance to confirm whether it is favorable or unfavorable. For Jerrya€™s Ice Cream, the standard quantity of materials per unit of production is 2 pounds per unit. Clearly, this is favorable because the actual quantity used was lower than the expected (budgeted) quantity. Although this could be viewed as good news for the company, management may want to know why this favorable variance occurred. For example, the unfavorable price variance at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream might have been a result of purchasing high-quality materials, which in turn led to less waste in production and a favorable quantity variance.
For auto suppliers that use hundreds of tons of steel each year, this had the unexpected effect of increasing expenses and reducing profits.
GR Spring and Stamping, Inc., a supplier of stampings to automotive companies, was generating pretax profit margins of about 3 percent prior to the increase in steel prices. Any unexpected increase in steel prices will likely cause significant unfavorable materials price variances, which will lead to lower profits. The flexible budget is compared to actual costs, and the difference is shown in the form of two variances. Variance is unfavorable because the actual quantity of materials used in production of 624,000 pounds is higher than the expected (budgeted) quantity of 585,000 pounds. The labor rate varianceThe difference between actual costs for direct labor and budgeted costs based on the standards.
Figure 10.6 "Direct Labor Variance Analysis for Jerrya€™s Ice Cream" shows how to calculate the labor rate and efficiency variances given the actual results and standards information. Variance is unfavorable because the actual rate of $15 is higher than the expected (budgeted) rate of $13.
Variance is favorable because the actual hours of 18,900 are lower than the expected (budgeted) hours of 21,000. The labor rate variance calculation presented previously shows the actual rate paid for labor was $15 per hour and the standard rate was $13. Clearly, this is favorable since the actual hours worked was lower than the expected (budgeted) hours. Jerrya€™s Ice Cream might also choose to investigate the $27,300 favorable labor efficiency variance. For example, many of the explanations shown in Figure 10.7 "Possible Causes of Direct Labor Variances for Jerrya€™s Ice Cream" might also apply to the favorable materials quantity variance. This awareness helps managers make decisions that protect the financial health of their companies. The pay cut was proposed to last as long as the company remained in bankruptcy and was expected to provide savings of approximately $620,000,000.
Michelle was asked to find out why direct labor and direct materials costs were higher than budgeted, even after factoring in the 5 percent increase in sales over the initial budget.
Our variance analysis shows a favorable direct materials quantity variance, which relates directly to the amount of materials used, and a favorable direct labor efficiency variance, which relates directly to the efficiency of our production workers. Ia€™ll have my staff analyze material and labor variances monthly, and Ia€™ll have a report ready at the end of each month for you and Lynn. Lynn, let our production crew know they are doing a fine job, and continue to encourage them to find ways to improve the efficiency of production.
Using variance analysis for direct materials and direct labor, Jerrya€™s Ice Cream was able to identify strong points in its operations (quantity of materials used and efficiency of direct labor workforce), and perhaps more important, Jerrya€™s was able to identify problem areas (price paid for materials and wages paid to employees). The company allocates manufacturing overhead based Annabelle’s Uniforms produces uniforms.


You may also download a PDF copy of this book (83 MB) or just this chapter (6 MB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline). We were expecting to sell 200,000 gallons of ice cream, but it turns out we sold 210,000 gallons. We expected a 5 percent increase in these costs over the original budget since sales were 5 percent higher than anticipated. We covered the planning phase of budgeting in Chapter 9 "How Are Operating Budgets Created?" by showing how Jerrya€™s Ice Cream prepared a master budget. As we develop the process of cost variance analysis, we will use flexible budget information. Production managers are evaluated using the flexible budget because the usage of direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead will depend on the actual number of units produced. Standard variable production costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream are shown in Figure 10.1 "Standard Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream". The variable production costs expected to produce these units are shown in the flexible budget in Figure 10.2 "Flexible Budget for Variable Production Costs at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream".
Later in the chapter, we compare the flexible budget presented in Figure 10.3 "Flexible Budget" to actual results and analyze the difference. For Jerrya€™s Ice Cream, the standard quantity of materials needed for each gallon of product is given in the recipe. The standard price for materials at Jerrya€™s comes from the purchase contract negotiated with the companya€™s supplier.
This time is often measured in direct labor hours or machine hours, depending on how the company chooses to allocate overhead (recall that we covered the choice of allocation base at length in Chapter 2 "How Is Job Costing Used to Track Production Costs?"). For example, ideal standards assume machines never break down, employees are never ill, and materials are never wasted.
Managerial accountants perform variance analysis for costs including direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead.
Standard cost information comes from a number of sources such as historical data, product specifications outlined by product engineers, contracts with suppliers, and labor union contracts.
What variances are used to analyze the difference between actual direct material costs and standard direct material costs?
Review this figure carefully before moving on to the next section where these calculations are explained in detail. For example, the materials price variance calculation presented previously shows the actual price paid for materials was $1.20 per pound and the standard price was $1.
Thus the standard quantity (SQ) of 420,000 pounds is 2 pounds per unit A— 210,000 units produced and sold. Through variance analysis, companies are able to identify problem areas (material costs for Jerrya€™s) and consider alternatives to controlling costs in the future. This also might have a positive impact on direct labor, as less time will be spent dealing with materials waste. For example, a major producer of automotive wheels had to reduce its annual earnings forecast by $10,000,000 to $15,000,000 as a result of the increase in steel prices. Auto part suppliers that rely on steel will continue to scrutinize materials price variances and materials quantity variances to control costs, particularly in a period of rising steel prices.
The materials price variance focuses on the price paid for materials, and it is defined as the difference between the actual quantity of materials purchased at the actual price and the actual quantity of materials purchased at the standard price. The company purchased 640,000 pounds of materials at $1.80 per pound and used 624,000 pounds in production.
This results in an unfavorable variance since the actual rate was higher than the expected (budgeted) rate. Lynn was surprised to learn that direct labor and direct materials costs were so high, particularly since actual materials used and actual direct labor hours worked were below budget. I dona€™t mind paying our employees a higher wage based on their experience, but leta€™s make sure we get some efficiency savings in the process to help offset the higher wages. The labor rate variance focuses on the wages paid for labor and is defined as the difference between actual costs for direct labor and budgeted costs based on the standards. The focus of this chapter is on the control phase and how to calculate and analyze cost variances. When actual sales differ from budgeted sales, it is inappropriate and perhaps unfair to evaluate employee performance by comparing actual results to the master budget.
That is, we will revise the master budget for direct materials, direct labor, and variable manufacturing overhead to reflect actual sales volume of 210,000 units. The flexible budget graph presented in Figure 10.3 "Flexible Budget" shows that direct materials have the highest variable production cost at $420,000, followed by direct labor at $273,000 and variable overhead at $105,000. Thus there are two separate standards necessary to establish each standard cost or six standards in total to establish a standard cost for direct materials, direct labor, and variable manufacturing overhead. As an alternative to this approach, companies might use historical data or look at price trends in the marketplace. In addition to this approach, companies might use time and motion studies performed by engineers who observe production workers and analyze the time required to perform production activities. Jerrya€™s Ice Cream uses direct labor hours to allocate variable manufacturing overhead, so we apply the same standard quantity used for direct labor.
Although ideal standards may provide motivation for workers to strive for excellence, these standards can also have a negative impact because they may be impossible to achieve. Most managers feel attainable standards have a positive behavioral impact on workers because the standards are reasonable and attainable under normal production conditions. Variable manufacturing overhead is applied based on direct labor hours at a rate of $3.50 per hour. The materials quantity varianceThe difference between the actual quantity of materials used in production and budgeted materials that should have been used in production based on the standards.
Clearly, this is unfavorable because the actual price was higher than the expected (budgeted) price. The labor efficiency varianceThe difference between the actual number of direct labor hours worked and budgeted direct labor hours that should have been worked based on the standards. What might have caused the $37,800 unfavorable labor rate variance and $27,300 favorable labor efficiency variance?
The direct labor rate variance would likely be favorable, perhaps totaling close to $620,000,000, depending on how much of these savings management anticipated when the budget was first established. In addition, we expected to pay $13 an hour for direct labor when in fact we actually paid $15 an hour. If actual sales volume is higher than the master budget, variable costs should be higher than the master budget. The master budget at Jerrya€™s Ice Cream was based on sales of 200,000 units and production of 200,400 units.
For example, fast-food restaurants have a standard for the length of time it should take to serve a drive-through-window customer.
Similar to this approach, companies might find the standard quantity in the product specifications outlined by product engineers. It is defined as the difference between the actual quantity of materials used in production and budgeted materials that should have been used in production based on the standards. This means we paid 20 percent more than expected for direct materials, which is $0.20 divided by $1, and 15 percent more than expected for direct labor, which is $2 divided by $13. It is defined as the difference between the actual number of direct labor hours worked and budgeted direct labor hours that should have been worked based on the standards.
Because actual sales totaled 210,000 units, the flexible budget should be based on 210,000 units of activity.
Phone directory operators have a standard length of time it should take to provide a phone number to a customer. Some companies review historical production information to determine quantities used in the past and use this information to set standard quantities for the future. Companies using a standard cost system ultimately credit favorable variances and debit unfavorable variances to income statement accounts.
Manufacturing companies have a standard quantity of direct materials to be used to produce one unit of product. In this chapter, we assume beginning and ending finished goods inventory are the same, and therefore units produced and sold will be the same.



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