# Variance Analysis Learn How to Calculate and Analyze Variances

When you perform analysis of variances, you may find both favorable and unfavorable variances. Volume variance occurs when a company produces more or less than planned. If the budgeted number of units differs from actual production, both material cost and labor cost are impacted. For this example, assume that the number of gloves actually produced matches the budget.

To perform variance analysis accurately, you need to identify and record all business costs. Use Stampli to compute total costs and to perform variance analysis. This reflects the standard cost allocation of fixed overhead (i.e., 10,200 hours should be used to produce 3,400 units). Notice that this differs from the budgeted fixed overhead by \$10,800, representing an unfavorable Fixed Overhead Volume Variance. The total direct labor variance was favorable \$8,600 (\$183,600 vs. \$175,000).

## Break it down by analyzing specific variances

Keep in mind that there are some challenges that come with looking at specific variances. It can be a time commitment to gather records and sort through information (especially if you’re not using tools like accounting software). Follow these general steps to start your variance analysis in cost accounting. Forecasting how much you’re going to spend and receive is a key part of running a business. More than likely, you’ll experience a variance in accounting at some point.

The actual numbers for labor hours matched the two hours budgeted per glove. If the budgeted hours differed from actual hours worked, Outdoor would have a labor efficiency variance. As mentioned above, materials, labor, and variable overhead consist of price and quantity/efficiency variances. Fixed overhead, however, includes a volume variance and a budget variance.

## Don’t Just Manage Spend, Control It

For Blue Rail, remember that the total number of hours was “high” because of inexperienced labor. These welders may have used more welding rods and had sloppier welds requiring more grinding. While the overall variance calculations provide signals about these issues, a manager would actually need to drill down into individual cost components to truly find areas for improvement.

For example, buying raw materials of superior quality (at higher than anticipated prices) may be offset by reduction in waste and spoilage. Blue Rail’s very favorable labor rate variance resulted from using inexperienced, less expensive labor. Was this the reason for the unfavorable outcomes in efficiency and volume? The challenge for a good manager is to take the variance information, examine the root causes, and take necessary corrective measures to fine tune business operations.

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In cost accounting, a standard is a benchmark or a “norm” used in measuring performance. In many organizations, standards are set for both the cost and quantity of materials, labor, and overhead needed to produce goods or provide services. Adding these two variables together, we get an overall variance of \$3,000 (unfavorable). It is a variance that management should look at and seek to improve. Although price variance is favorable, management may want to consider why the company needs more materials than the standard of 18,000 pieces.

• Outfield incurs labor costs to run machinery, and to package completed gloves for shipment to customers.
• She is performing variance analysis to determine if costs can be reduced.
• The concept of variance is intrinsically connected with planned and actual results and effects of the difference between those two on the performance of the entity or company.
• For instance, rent is usually subject to a lease agreement that is relatively certain.
• Before looking closer at these variances, it is first necessary to recall that overhead is usually applied based on a predetermined rate, such as \$X per direct labor hour.

Such variance amounts are generally reported as decreases (unfavorable) or increases (favorable) in income, with the standard cost going to the Work in Process Inventory account. Outdoor creates a budget, based on projected sales, production, and other assumptions. Management will create standard, or budgeted amounts for material, labor, and overhead costs.

## Calculate your overall variance

Standard costs are compared to actual costs, and mathematical deviations between the two are termed variances. Favorable variances result when actual costs are less than standard costs, and vice versa. The following illustration is intended to demonstrate the very basic relationship between actual cost and standard cost.

The variance analysis of manufacturing overhead costs is more complicated than the variance analysis for materials. However, the variance analysis of manufacturing overhead costs is important since these costs have become a large percentage of manufacturing costs. Before looking closer at these variances, it is first necessary to recall that overhead is usually applied based on a predetermined rate, such as \$X per direct labor hour. This means that the amount debited to work in process is driven by the overhead application approach.

Comparing this figure (\$125,000) to the standard cost (\$102,000) reveals an unfavorable variable overhead efficiency variance of \$23,000. However, this inefficiency was significantly offset by the \$20,000 favorable variable overhead spending variance (\$105,000 vs. \$125,000). A good manager will want to explore the nature of variances relating to variable overhead. It is not sufficient to simply conclude that more or less was spent than intended. As with direct material and direct labor, it is possible that the prices paid for underlying components deviated from expectations (a variable overhead spending variance).