Quality cost measurement under activity-based costing
National Central University, Chung-Li, Taiwan, Republic of China Introduction Many companies in the world gradually promote quality as the central customer value and regard it as a key concept of company strategy in order to achieve the competitive edge (Ross and Wegman, 1990). Measuring and reporting the cost of quality (COQ) is the first step in a quality management program. Even in service industries, COQ systems receive considerable attention (Bohan and Horney, 1991; Carr, 1992; Ravitz, 1991). COQ systems are bound to increase in importance because COQ-related activities consume as much as 25 percent or more of the resources used in companies (Ravitz, 1991). COQ information can be used to indicate major opportunities for corrective action and to provide incentives for quality improvement. Traditional cost accounting, whose main functions are inventory valuation and income determination for external financial reporting, does not yield the COQ information needed. While most COQ measurement methods are activity/process oriented, traditional cost accounting establishes cost accounts by the categories of expenses, instead of activities. Under traditional cost accounting, many COQ-related costs are lumped into overheads, which are allocated to cost centers (usually departments) and then to products through predetermined overhead rates. For example, among various COQ-related costs, the rework and the unrecovered cost of spoiled goods caused by internal failures are charged to the factory overhead control account which accumulates the actual overhead costs incurred (Hammer et al., 1993, pp. 155-64). The predetermined overhead rates should be adjusted to incorporate the normal levels of various COQ-related costs, and excess COQ-related costs will be buried in overhead variances. The cost accounting treatment described above cannot satisfy the needs of COQ measurement. Thus, Oakland (1993, p. 210) claims that “quality related costs should be collected and reported separately and not absorbed into a variety of overheads”. Prevention-appraisal-failure (PAF) approach and process cost approach are two main approaches to measuring COQ. However, The author wishes to thank the anonymous referees for many helpful comments and suggestions about this paper. The author also wishes to thank the authors of references cited in this paper, especially the authors, Barrie G. Dale and James J. Plunkett, of the book, Quality Costing, and the author, Peter B.B. Turney, of the book, Common Cents: The ABC Performance Breakthrough – How to Succeed with Activity-based Costing, from which this paper quotes a lot of COQ and BC concept.
Quality cost measurement
Received March 1996 Revised March 1998
International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 15 No. 7, 1998, pp. 719-752, © MCB University Press, 0265-671X
these approaches still cannot provide appropriate methods to include overhead costs in COQ systems. Accordingly, many quality cost elements require estimates and there is a prevailing belief in COQ literature. It is a danger that managers become too concerned with accuracy in COQ determination – a number-crunching exercise that will consume resources disproportionately (Oakland, 1993, p. 197). In addition, most COQ measurement systems in use do not trace quality costs to their sources (O’Guin, 1991, p. 70), which hinders managers from identifying where the quality improvement opportunities lie. Nevertheless, these deficiencies could be easily overcome under activity-based costing (ABC) developed by Cooper and Kaplan of Harvard Business School (Cooper, 1988; Cooper and Kaplan, 1988). ABC uses the two-stage procedure to achieve the accurate costs of various cost objects (such as departments, products, customers, and channels), tracing resource costs (including overhead costs) to activities, and then tracing the costs of activities...
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