# How to Calculate Standard Costs in 2023

Taking the time to continuously update actual costs means a lot of number adjustments for a company’s accountant. As a result, the required financial reports for a company’s management can be generated easier and faster. Peter J Smith is a production manager in Company A, which manufactures 3D printers. To ascertain production costs at the beginning of an accounting period, he considered the company’s production process, past trends, and anticipated market conditions in the future. The actual cost will always be different from the projected standard cost.

Once you’ve completed the three steps above, the only thing left to do is add up your results from each one. Then, as you produce more product, you can update this estimate based on your actual costs to reduce variances. Calculating inventory using standard costs is easier than using actual costs.

• But it could be a sign the standard cost estimate for direct labor was too optimistic.
• When actual expenses are less than projected, it is a favorable variance.
• The most common variances that a cost accountant elects to report on are subdivided within the rate and volume variance categories for direct materials, direct labor, and overhead.
• When you’re producing more, you run your machines longer, raising your electricity costs.

At the end of the year (or accounting period) if the standard costs are higher than the actual expenses, than the company is considered to have a favorable variance. If the company’s actual costs were higher, then the company would have an unfavorable variance. Let us take the above example to understand the process of standard costing. Let us assume that the manufacturing of a single unit of the widget requires two input materials, A and B. One widget requires 4 pieces of input material A that costs \$15 per piece and 3 pounds of input material B that costs \$40 per pound.

## Examples of Standard Cost Formula (With Excel Template)

Favorable variances signify that the company can predict, identify and control the costs effectively, while unfavorable variances highlight gaps in reading the business environment, leading to loss of profitability. It helps to set a guideline for management, and proper costing knowledge is taught before the start. This is a simple example showing how a clothing manufacturer might calculate standard costs for one of its products. Direct materials refers to the materials used to create your product, such as the fabric a clothing company uses to create its garments. Manufacturing overhead includes indirect costs, such as the electricity required to power your facility. A variance is the difference between the actual cost incurred and the standard cost against which it is measured.

Break down all your manufacturing overhead costs and estimate how much each unit you’re producing is contributing to this. For example, if an electric machine can produce a product in 15 minutes, you could figure the cost of electricity per unit by dividing the hourly price of electricity by four. Finally, add up all your various manufacturing overhead costs to determine the total. In reality, it may cost slightly more to produce one batch of product than another, depending on the material cost and how efficiently the workers produce it. But standard costing can give you a rough estimate of how much your inventory is worth. Simply multiply the standard cost of each item by the number of items you have.

## Formula for Standard Cost

However, it should be kept in mind that standard cost is useful for the repetitive type of production and finds limited use in case of a non-repetitive type of production. Let us take the example of a company that is engaged in the manufacturing of widgets. Based on available historical costing information, the cost accountant has determined that for producing a single unit of widget the company requires 5 pounds of input material and 2 hours of labor. The input material costs \$50 per pound while the labor charges \$35 per hour.

Enter the standard rate (\$/unit) and the standard quantity (units) into the Calculator. It is not always considered practical or even necessary to calculate and report on variances, unless the resulting information can be used by management to improve the operations or lower the costs of a business. The preceding list shows that there are many situations where standard costing is not useful, and may even result in incorrect management actions. Nonetheless, as long as you are aware of these issues, it is usually possible to profitably adapt standard costing into some aspects of a company’s operations. Running a small business, a startup, or planning projects requires controlling costs, optimizing operations, and identifying gaps to address where actual cost differences lie concerning predetermined costs.

## Advantages and Problems with Standard Costing

When actual expenses are less than projected, it is a favorable variance. To calculate the Standard Cost, multiply the standard rate by the standard quantity. Variance reports quickly highlight unfavorable variances, but favorable variances rarely get the same attention. This results in business leaders focusing on what’s going wrong and overlooking what’s going right, potentially causing low morale among workers. Standard costs provide a high-level view of a company’s production department, but they don’t drill down into specifics.

Periodically, the business owner or accountant reviews the variances and may update the standard unit cost estimates to better reflect actual expenses. For example, if you use more cloth to make your clothing than you’d planned when creating your standard cost, that’s a materials quantity variance. If it takes your workers less time to create the clothing than you’d thought, that’s a labor rate variance. Budgeting is an enormous challenge for all business owners, but that’s especially true for manufacturers who often deal with varying material costs, making it difficult to estimate expenses and profits. Many attempt to resolve this issue using a practice known as standard costing.

## Is a Standard Cost Different from a Budget?

Yes, eventually those extra charges will be accounted for by being added to the variance cost, but typically an inventory valuation will go by the standard costing method in order to keep things simplified. A budget is always an estimate, later compared to the actual amounts spent, so that the creation of the following year’s budget is more accurate. In this way, assuming there are not significant product or manufacturing changes year after year, the sizes of the variances can decrease. Therefore, the overall estimated cost for manufacturing 5,000 widgets is \$1.6 million. While standard costs are a useful tool for manufacturers, they have a few drawbacks you should keep in mind.

## Standard Cost Calculator

This ensures you earn enough on each sale to cover your production costs, remain solvent, and still make money. Remember, actual profits might differ from projected profits if standard costs deviate significantly from actual costs. Standard costs approximate actual costs, but they probably won’t be exactly the same. The difference between the standard cost and the actual cost is known as a variance. If it costs less to produce a product than the standard cost predicted, that’s a favorable variance. But if it costs more than the standard cost, that’s an unfavorable variance.