Sign Up for Discounts
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Follow us on Facebook
    Controller Library Value Pack
    CFO Library Value Pack
    Accounting Standards Library
    Sunday
    May192013

    What is a cost object?

    A cost object is any item for which you are separately measuring costs. It is a key concept used in managing the costs of a business.

    Here are some types of cost objects:

    • Output. The most common cost objects are a company's products and services, since it wants to know the cost of its output for profitability analysis and price setting.
    • Operational. A cost object can be within a company, such as a department, machining operation, production line, or process. For example, you could track the cost of designing a new product, or a customer service call, or of reworking a returned product.
    • Business relationship. A cost object can be outside of a company - there may be a need to accumulate costs for a supplier or a customer, to determine the cost of dealing with that entity. Another variation on the concept is the cost of renewing a license with a government agency.

    It may be necessary to have a cost object in order to derive pricing from a baseline cost, or to see if costs are reasonable, or to derive the full cost of a relationship with another entity. 

    A cost object may be the subject of considerable ongoing scrutiny, but more commonly a company will only accumulate costs for it occasionally, to see if there has been any significant change since the last analysis. This is because most accounting systems are not designed to accumulate costs for specific cost objects, and so must be reconfigured to do so on a project basis. An annual review is common for many cost objects.

    Related Questions

    What is an allocation base?
    What is overhead allocation?
    What is the overhead rate?

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
    Editor Permission Required
    You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.