The ABC system applied to Microsoft Corporation Essay

The activity-based cost system is a sort of bing system that provides decisions-makers with valuable information by providing them a more accurate and just manner of delegating indirect resources to merchandises. Standing on the premiss that activities consume costs, ABC system ‘s chief end is to track the cost of a cost object, such as a merchandise, by mensurating and pricing out all resources used for the activities that go into doing that cost object. ( Drury, 2004 )

This instance analyze pull an conjectural ABC system developed for the Microsoft Corporation, the transnational computing machine engineering corporation.

The ABC system procedure involves seven chief phases.

The first phase consists in the Activity Analysis: the designation and categorization of the major activities that take topographic point in the organisation. This sort of analysis is normally carried out through an scrutiny of a physical program of the workplace and of a paysheet listing, normally supported by a series of interviews with the staff involved. Due to the fact that each activity consists in the collection of different elements, the chosen activities should be at sensible degree of collection based on costs versus benefits standards: if excessively many activities are defined, the cost of measuring for the ABC system grows disproportionately high. ( Drury, 2008 )

The activities are frequently classified on the base of the degree at which their costs are incurred, in an activity hierarchy.

Mentioning to Microsoft the chief activities are the undermentioned:


Customers orders and bringing: activities that guarantee that the concluding merchandises is shipped on clip quickly upon reception of purchase orders from clients. A

Machine hours: machines are the primary equipment used in the production, fiction and assembly of parts.

Care: activities involved in keeping machines in good working position


Puting up

Purchase of natural stuffs: it is responsible for choosing sellers, inspecting stuffs, supervising bringing clip, verifying measures received


Research and development: Microsoft ‘s success is based on invention: ability to originate, to encompass new engineering tendencies and to come in new markets

Merchandise design: Microsoft has 100s of design and human factors professionals work on planing merchandises, making great solution for costumiers.

Testing: The quality control country is responsible for guaranting the concluding merchandise quality


Warranty service: activities related to the relationship with the client such as the processing of ailments sing merchandise


Selling: activities such as advertisement and publicity.

Because the purpose is to find how much the organisation is passing on each activity, after the activities have been identified, the cost of resources consumed over a specified period must be assigned to each activity, by making Activity Cost Centers, or Cost Pools. While many resources can be straight attributable to specific activity, other may be indirect and jointly shared by several activities. ABC system interior decorators typically estimate the resources consumed by each Activity Cost Pool by delegating these costs to activities on the footing of cause-and-effect drivers. The costs drivers used to apportion shared resources to single activities are called RESOURCE COST DRIVERS, “ factors that determine how much of a resource is used by an activity and therefore how much of the cost of the resource should be allocated to the activity ” ( Afuah, 2004, pp. 179-180 ) .

The undermentioned measure it to delegate the cost of activities to the cost object by utilizing ACTIVITY COST DRIVERS, “ factors that determine how much of an activity goes into a merchandise and therefore how much of the cost of the activity should be allocated to the merchandise ” ( Afuan, 2004, pp. 179-180 ) .Each activity should be matched with each ain cost driver.

The following phase is to cipher the measure in which each cost driver is wholly put into action for each activity ( use ) . This is computed by summing the different measures of cost driver that have been needed for each single merchandise. For illustration, for what concerns R & A ; D the entire measure figure of inventions in microprocessor engineering has been calculated by summing the Numberss of inventions undertaken for each of the launched merchandises.

The 5th phase involves the designation of the Cost Driver Rate for each cost pool. To find it, the estimated entire overhead costs of each activity are divided by the sum estimated use of the several cost driver. This represents a ratio that provides an estimation of the cost of utilizing one unit of that peculiar cost driver.

Since this minute, it is possible to delegate the cost of activities to the merchandises and so to cipher the unit overhead cost of each merchandise.The cost driver rate is multiplied by the cost-driver use of each merchandise, that means by the measure of that cost driver needed for the production of each point.

The last measure in the ABC analysis is to calculate the entire merchandise costs by summing the direct labour cost, direct stuff cost, and overhead cost of each merchandise.


The choice of the cost driver must be truly accurate: the cost driver should supply a good account of the costs sustained in each activity cost pools and it should be a satisfactory placeholder that enables the quantitative step of an end product activity. First of all this pick should acknowledge whether the activity causes unit-level, batch-level, product-level or facility- degree costs. Unit-level costs should hold cost drivers that vary with the figure of units, batch-level with the figure of the batches and so far. ( Drury 2008 )

An of import thing that houses should take in history in the choice of the cost driver is the subjective trade-off between benefits of increased truth and cost of increased measuring ( Atkinson, Kaplan and Young ; 2004 ) .

ABC system interior decorators can take basically from three sorts of activity cost drivers: dealing, continuance and strength drivers. The first sort, numbering the figure of times an activity is performed, is cheaper but less accurate ; this sort of cost drivers bases on the premise that the more times a house performs a peculiar activity adding value to a merchandise, the larger the part of the activity to the costs. A dealing driver is all right in delegating activities disbursals when the fluctuation of measure of resources used by each activity is little.

The 2nd sort, stand foring the sum of clip required to execute an activity, increases the measuring costs but are more accurate. The continuance drivers base on the premise that the longer the continuance of an activity, the more dearly-won the activity is likely to be ( Atkinson, Kaplan and Young ; 2004 ) .

The pick of a cost driver for each activity bases on the balance between the cost and the truth of this. For illustration for the SETTING MACHINE, the cost determiner could be both the figure of puting up undertaken and the set-up hours. In the instance of Microsoft, if a package requires a short set-up clip and a hardware requires a long clip so utilizing set-up hours as the cost driver will more accurately step activity resources ingestion than the dealing driver which assumes that an equal sum of resources are consumed by both merchandises ( Drury, 2008 ) .. In order to countervail the measuring costs, for the fabrication activities have been chosen Duration drivers, while cheaper Transaction drivers have been preferred for the other activities. The pick to pass more for the cost drivers of fabrication activities rests on the hazard that the rapid alteration in the Personal computer ‘s industry and the fast bead in monetary values can ensue in really high cost in fabricating operations ; therefore a house like Microsoft has to develop a cost system that provides an analysis every bit possible as precise on these operations.

Intensity drivers are the most accurate and expensive cost drivers, that charges straight for the resources used each clip an activity is performed. Finally in the choice of cost frogmans in an ABC system it is cardinal the difference between volume-based cost drivers and no-volume based cost drivers, in order to avoid the over-costing or the under-costing of the merchandise.


The supported computations are justified by the seize of Microsoft Corporation: looking at the income statement of twelvemonth 2010, the entire operating disbursals were approximately $ 38,000 million. Firstly it has been assumed that at least $ 18,000 million were direct costs, therefore merely the staying portion has been allocated among the activities as operating expense costs. Second, it has been assumed that in the considered fiscal period Microsoft has produced JUST two merchandises:


In the strategic direction procedure, director demands to command current activities in order to guarantee that merely profitable merchandises and services are being launched. This sort of demand could be reached merely by utilizing peculiar techniques that provide accurate information about the sustained costs. One of these techniques is merely the ABC system that furnishes a important assistance in strategic determination: it allows to analyze the profitableness of each cost objects, such as merchandises and costumiers, and gives the chance to rank them on the footing of their profitableness, and to transform the unprofitable into profitable, through actions such as procedure betterments or pricing activities.

As already explained, ABC system, by following the cost of all activities and operating expense to a peculiar merchandise instead than distributing them across all merchandise lines, enables resources and overhead costs to be more accurately and equitably assigned to the cost object that consumes them. In this manner ABC system gives visibleness to how efficaciously resources are being used, so how costs are really consumed and how all activities contribute to the cost of a merchandise or service.

Therefore the chief value added by the usage of ABC system lays on the possibility that, utilizing the ABC system, a director could measure the costs for each activity and may make up one’s mind to unite some of the stairss in order to take down costs. Therefore ABC system provides accurate informations that may function either to warrant some company ‘s activities and investings, or to place the demand to retreat or modify others.

ABC system adds more value to a director than a traditional system because it uses a greater figure of cost drivers, including differ types that traditional system does non utilize: the no-volume based drivers. Indeed traditional cost system uses merely volume-based cost drivers, such as direct labour and machine hours, where no cause-effect-relations exist to delegate support costs to be objects. Using merely volume-based cost drivers to delegate no-volume related operating expense can ensue in the coverage of deformed merchandise costs: such as in the over-costing of high volume merchandise and in the under-costing of low volume products..

Mentioning to the Microsoft instance, it could go on that the full cost of a package unit computed by utilizing the ABC system is higher than it computed with a traditional costing system. With the merchandising monetary value staying changeless, this provides an indispensable information suggesting director that the merchandise should be reviewed and the activities should be reassess in order to increase the merchandising monetary value ( to cover the extra costs that with the traditional system were non released ) or to take downing overhead costs, by extinguishing non valued added activities, activities that require clip and use resources but add no value to the client.


Although ABC system provides truly valuable information to directors, some company have experienced troubles and booby traps to construct and utilize it. First of all, companies sing utilizing ABC should maintain in head that while it can be a really powerful direction tool, it can be really expensive to get down and run: itA requires significant resources and costs to be maintained. As it has been pointed out, the determination of planing and running an ABC system should be based on the tradeoff between the extra cost of implementing it and the errors in direction determinations that can ensue in the traditional systems a cause of the deformed costs.

Second, activity based bing informations must be used with attention when implemented in doing determinations: before doing any important determination, directors have to place which costs are truly relevant for the determinations at manus. Indeed, endorsing to the Microsoft instance, the fact that the full cost computed with the ABC system is higher can take to a loss, does non legalize the director to instantly abandon the merchandise: it does non intend that this sort of action would stand for a cost economy. Cost assigned to be objects are merely potentially relevant: director should complement them with other sort of information such as informations about the general market and the forecasted moves of rivals.

Third, even if ABC system can be used for about each sort of concern, service industries may non profit as much from it as other industries because their costs can be hard to delegate as they may non hold an identifiable cause and consequence relationship. Finally ABC does non ever conform to GAAP, the by and large accepted accounting rules. That means that a company utilizing ABC system have to maintain a separate system to track costs in a mode that conform to them.