Marlene Baer, the controller of Breeden Security USA, recognizes that grouping all manufacturing overhead costs together and allocating them to Breeden’s two products is not very accurate. She groups overhead costs by activity and then allocates them to the two products. The system resembles a simple activity-based costing system. It introduces the definition of activities, costing those activities, and computing product cost based on their use of the activities. The revised product costs are considerably different, and analyzing what causes the differences is important for discovering where ABC can provide valuable information. In addition, at the end of the year, profits have been reduced by the need to take care of a growing and increasingly complex packing and shipping activity. Baer defines a new activity (order handling), computes the cost per order, and begins to revise the data on product profitability and to develop data on customer profitability. Having discovered the high cost of handling each order, she now has good reason to work on activity-based management and the notion of customer profitability making that process more efficient, and perhaps more customer friendly. This is the second in a series of two cases that can be used to explore the evolution of cost systems. The main issues of the two cases are as follows: In the A case (UVA-C-2307), the company uses a traditional costing system. The main questions relate to breakeven analysis and the effect of inventory buildup on profit. The B case introduces the use of an activity-based costing system to allocate costs so that the company can assess both product and customer profitability. The two cases can be used in two classes or together in one class.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia