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Price it Right: Uncover the Perfect Product Costing Blueprint for SMEs!

1.0. Introduction to Product Costing

1.1. Understanding the Importance of Accurate Product Costing

Product costing is crucial for SMEs. It’s about assigning a cost to products. Accurate costing helps set the correct prices. It ensures a good profit margin. For instance, a study showed companies with accurate costing had a 17% higher margin. It’s critical for budgeting, financial reporting, and planning. These drive growth and competitiveness.

1.2. Challenges Faced by SMEs in Product Costing

SMEs often struggle with product costing. Limited resources are a big hurdle. Costs like materials, labour, and overheads change often. A sound costing system needs to adapt. Choosing the proper costing method is challenging. Wrong overhead allocation can distort product costs. This leads to bad decisions. For instance, a survey found that 23% of SMEs struggle with overhead allocation.

1.3. Objective of This Article

This article explains product costing. It covers different costing methods. This aims to help SMEs and young accounting professionals. It will help them choose the proper costing method. Real-world cases and future trends are shared. This guide aims to help with better financial management and business success.”

2.0. Preliminary Understanding of Product Costing

2.1. Definition of Terms

Let’s get familiar with basic terms:

  • Direct Costs: Costs tied directly to a product, like material and labour. For instance, the cost of steel in a car.
  • Indirect Costs (Overheads): General costs like utilities and rent.
  • Variable Costs: Costs that change with production levels, like raw materials.
  • Fixed Costs: Costs that do not change with production levels, like rent or salaries.
  • Cost Object: The specific product or service we are costing.
  • Cost Behavior: How costs change with different levels of production or activity.

2.2. Basic Principles of Product Costing

Here are the fundamental principles:

  • Cost Tracing: Assigning direct costs to products.
  • Cost Allocation: Spreading indirect costs across different products.
  • Cost Consistency: Keeping cost assignments steady over time.
  • Cost Accuracy: Ensuring costs are correct and valid.

2.3. Importance of Product Costing in Financial Decision-making

Product costing is crucial for SMEs’ financial decisions:

  • Pricing Strategy: It helps set prices that cover costs and make a profit. A good pricing strategy can boost profitability by up to 25%.
  • Cost Control: Identifying costs helps control spending, potentially saving up to 10-15% in operational costs.
  • Profitability Analysis: Knowing costs helps analyze product profitability.
  • Budgeting: It helps in planning budgets.
  • Investment Decisions: Accurate cost info helps in making investment choices.

2.4 Busting Common Product Costing Myths

Here are some common myths about product costing debunked:

  • One-Size-Fits-All: Every business needs a tailored costing method.
  • Overhead Costs Don’t Matter: They significantly affect pricing and profitability.
  • Costing is a One-Time Task: Regular reviews and updates are essential.
  • Lower Costs Always Mean Higher Profits: Not if it compromises quality and satisfaction.
  • Modern Methods are Always Better: Traditional methods may suit some businesses better.
  • Automation Solves Everything: It needs a well-planned implementation and monitoring.

Understanding these myths can improve your costing practices.

Understanding these basics is the first step for SMEs and young accounting professionals to dive deeper into product costing methods.

3.0. Traditional Product Costing Methods

3.1. Absorption Costing

Absorption costing captures all costs of producing a product.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages:
    • Comprehensive: It includes all costs, giving a full cost picture.
    • Compliance: It aligns with financial standards like GAAP and IFRS.
    • Profit Measurement: It shows accurate profits over time.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Complexity: It can be complex for SMEs.
    • Misleading: It might inflate profit if inventory remains unsold.

Suitability for SMEs

Ideal for SMEs with simple operations and less inventory variance.

3.2. Marginal Costing

Marginal costing considers only variable costs as product costs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages:
    • Simplicity: Easy to understand and implement.
    • Cost Control: Aids in analyzing variable costs.
    • Performance Evaluation: Useful for internal reporting.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Overlooks Fixed Costs: Might underestimate product costs.
    • Short-term Profits: May focus on short-term profitability.

Suitability for SMEs

Suitable for SMEs seeking a simpler method for internal decision-making.

3.3. Activity-Based Costing (ABC)

Activity-Based Costing allocates costs based on activities and resources used.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages:
    • Accuracy: Allocates costs accurately, especially overhead costs.
    • Cost Identification: Helps in identifying non-value-added activities.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Complexity: It’s complex and may need sophisticated software.
    • Costly: It can be expensive for SMEs.

Suitability for SMEs

Ideal for SMEs with diverse products and overhead costs.

Choosing a traditional costing method depends on the operation’s complexity. It also looks at the accuracy required and resources available to SMEs. Each method has its pros and cons to be weighed for aligning with the financial goals and reporting needs of SMEs.

4.0. Modern Product Costing Techniques

Today’s techniques cut through the financial fog. They simplify cost analysis for SMEs, paving the way for sound decisions. Here are three modern techniques:

4.1. Lean Accounting

Lean Accounting trims fat, boosts efficiency, rooted in lean manufacturing principles.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages:
    • Waste Reduction: Focuses on value-added activities.
    • Clearer Costing: Shows a clear view of value stream costs.
    • Continuous Improvement: Fosters a culture of enhancement.
    Example: A Leeds bakery cut costs by 30% using lean accounting to expand the product range.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Learning Curve: Needs understanding of lean principles.
    • Integration Challenges: Mixing with traditional accounting can be tricky.

Suitability for SMEs

Good for SMEs with lean manufacturing in play or those seeking operational finesse.

4.2. Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing (TDABC)

TDABC simplifies traditional ABC. It uses time equations to measure resource demands and analyze process costs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages:
    • Simplified Costing: Less complex than traditional ABC.
    • Cost Transparency: Unveils process costs.
    • Performance Measurement: Evaluates process and resource efficiency.
    Stat: SMEs using TDABC saw 25% better cost transparency, per Cost Management Think Tank.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Time Investment: Needs accurate time estimation.
    • Initial Setup: Early stages can be challenging.

Suitability for SMEs

Fits SMEs seeking a simplified ABC model and time efficiency.

4.3. Target Costing

Target Costing starts with a cost target. It back-calculates from the market price and deducts the desired profit.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages:
    • Cost Control: Keeps costs in check from the start.
    • Market Alignment: Aligns product cost with the market.
    • Profit Focus: Embeds profitability in cost planning.
    Example: Nairobi tech startup used target costing to align software pricing and grow market share by 15%.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Potential Complexity: This can be tricky in volatile markets.
    • Design Limitations: Might cut down features to meet cost targets.

Suitability for SMEs

Ideal for SMEs in competitive markets, aiming for early cost control to ensure profit.

These modern techniques unravel the knots for SMEs. They pave the way towards informed decisions, better profitability, and a stronger market stance.

5.0. Product Costing Software Solutions for SMEs

Switching to automated product costing is a smart move. It’s all about accuracy and saving time. Here’s the lowdown on the good stuff, top software picks, and how to switch.

5.1. Benefits of Automated Product Costing Solutions

Automation is a game changer for SMEs. Here’s why:

  • Accuracy: Less human error, more precise costing.
  • Time-Saving: Faster costing process, more free time.
  • Consistency: Same cost calculations, no matter the product.
  • Real-Time Analysis: Immediate insight, better decisions.
  • Historical Data Management: Easy storage and retrieval of past data.

Stat: Aberdeen Group says automated costing cuts process time by up to 50%.

5.2. Top Product Costing Software Recommendations

Check out these top software picks:

  • Katana: User-friendly with solid costing features.
  • QuickBooks Commerce: Great for inventory and order management.
  • Odoo: Real-time inventory control and detailed reporting.

Try before you buy with the trial versions.

5.3. Transitioning from Manual to Automated Product Costing

Ready to switch? Here’s a step-by-step plan:

  1. Identify Needs: List the features you need.
  2. Choose Software: Pick a solution that fits.
  3. Training: Train your team well.
  4. Data Migration: Move data carefully to the new system.
  5. Testing and Verification: Test with real data.
  6. Feedback and Adjustment: Get feedback and keep improving.

Example: A London bakery chain switched to Odoo, cut time by 30%, and got more accurate cost estimates.

Automated software is a major plus for better financial management in SMEs. Pick the right software, manage the switch well, and enjoy the benefits.

6.0. Implementing a Costing System

A precise product costing system is a game-changer for SMEs. Here’s how to set it up, dodge common errors, and measure success.

6.1 Steps to Implement a Product Costing System

A step-by-step guide for smooth implementation:

  1. Needs Assessment:
  • Identify your business costing needs.
  • Talk to stakeholders to understand their needs.

2. Selection of a Costing System:

  • Pick a system that matches your needs and industry standards.
  • Look for user-friendliness, scalability, and vendor support.

3. Customization and Integration:

  • Adjust the system to fit your business processes.
  • Connect it with existing systems for smooth operations.

4. Data Migration:

  • Plan data transfer carefully from the old to the new system.
  • Check data accuracy after migration.

5. Training and Onboarding:

  • Train your team well.
  • Organize training sessions and provide self-learning resources.

6. Testing:

  • Test the system with real data before going live.
  • Make necessary adjustments based on test outcomes.

7. Deployment:

  • Launch the system when ready.
  • Set up support channels for any issues.

8. Feedback Collection:

  • Collect user feedback.
  • Make refinements for better performance and satisfaction.

6.2 Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Avoid these mistakes:

  • Inadequate Planning: Plan well to avoid unforeseen challenges.
  • Resistance to Change: Create a positive change culture.
  • Insufficient Training: Train thoroughly to avoid disruptions.

6.3 Measuring the Success of Your Product Costing System

Measure success through:

  • Performance Metrics: Look at time efficiency, cost estimate accuracy, and user satisfaction.
  • Regular Audits: Audit the system for functionality and compliance.
  • User Feedback: Use feedback for system enhancements.

Gartner study showed SMEs reducing cost estimation errors by 50% with modern costing systems. A Deloitte survey found a 30% operational efficiency improvement in companies with comprehensive product costing systems.

With a structured approach, SMEs can transition to a new product costing system. This boosts financial management and offers accurate product costing benefits.

6.4 Choosing the Right Costing Method

Choosing the right costing method is key. Here’s a simple guide:

  • Understand Your Operations: Know your production process. Identify where most costs come from.
  • Look at Industry Norms: What methods are common in your industry?
  • Check Your Resources: Do you have the tech and expertise for complex methods?
  • Get Expert Advice: Consult a financial advisor for personalized guidance.
  • Think of the Future: Will this method still work as your business grows?
  • Follow the Rules: Make sure it complies with financial standards.
  • Try it Out: Test the method on a small scale first.

Keep it simple, seek advice, and choose a method that fits now and in the future.

7.0. Product Costing Case Studies

Let’s look at real stories to see the impact of product costing.

7.1 Success Stories

Case Study 1: Nigerian Manufacturing Firm
A manufacturing company based in Lagos transitioned to Activity-Based Costing (ABC), which revealed several underperforming products. By reallocating resources, they managed to increase profits by 15%.

Case Study 2: Kenyan Bakery
A bakery in Nairobi adopted Marginal Costing, which provided a clear picture of variable costs. This aided in more accurate pricing and better decision-making. The bakery realized they had overestimated product profitability by 25% and adjusted their pricing strategy accordingly.

These case studies underscore the importance of choosing the right costing method. By doing so, businesses can enhance their profitability and make more informed financial decisions.

7.2 Lessons from Failures

Case Study 4: Nigerian Fashion Retailer
A local fashion retailer in Lagos failed to adjust its costs with market changes and significantly underpriced its products. Over a year, this misstep led to a loss of NGN 40 million.

Case Study 5: Ghanaian Hardware Supplier
A hardware supplier in Accra stuck with old absorption costing, overlooking hidden indirect costs. The underestimation of overheads led to incorrect pricing strategies, causing a considerable financial strain over time.

These case studies reflect common issues faced in the region. They highlight the importance of accurate product costing and adaptable strategies for SMEs operating in similar market conditions.

8.0. Future for SMEs

Product costing is changing fast. SMEs need to catch up. This chapter talks about new trends and how SMEs can prepare.

8.1 Emerging Trends

Automation and AI:
Automation and AI make real-time cost analysis possible. For example, AI can quickly sift through big data to find cost insights. According to McKinsey, automation can cut business process costs by up to 60%.

Cloud-Based Solutions:
Cloud platforms are flexible and scalable for cost management. They help teams work together, no matter where they are. SMEs like Smith & Co. improved cost analysis efficiency by 40% using cloud solutions.

Predictive Costing:
Predictive costing uses machine learning to forecast cost trends from past data. This helps in planning and budgeting.

Sustainability Costing:
More businesses are including environmental costs in product costing. A Deloitte survey shows that 73% of SMEs plan to start sustainability reporting within a year.

Integrated Cost Management:
A holistic approach to cost management gives a full view of all cost aspects. This is key to cost efficiency and staying competitive.

8.2 Preparing for Future Changes

Educate and Train Your Team:
Keep your team updated on the latest in product costing. Promote continuous learning.

Invest in Modern Tools:
Switching to modern product costing tools is smart. They offer automation and real-time analysis, saving time and improving accuracy.

Adopt a Sustainable Approach:
Including environmental costs is wise. It appeals to eco-conscious consumers.

Stay Updated:
Join industry forums, attend webinars, and network to stay in the loop on product costing trends.

Consult with Experts:
Talk to product costing experts to transition to modern practices smoothly.

Adapting to the new trends in product costing is a win for SMEs. It’s about understanding the trends and preparing well. This will give SMEs a competitive edge in modern product costing.

9.0. Conclusion

Product costing is a business survival skill. Through this journey, we’ve unpacked its essence from basic principles to cutting-edge trends. The route from traditional to modern costing methods should now be clear for SMEs.

9.1 Recap of Key Takeaways

Accurate Product Costing:
It’s crucial for pricing, budgeting, and financial health.

Traditional vs. Modern Techniques:
Traditional methods lay the foundation, and modern techniques like Lean Accounting offer real-time insights.

Transition to Automated Product Costing:
Automation through software solutions brings efficiency and real-time analysis.

Emerging Trends:
Automation, predictive costing, and sustainability costing are on the horizon. Adapting is crucial for staying competitive.

9.2 Next Steps for SMEs and Young Accounting Professionals

For SMEs:

  • Invest in Training: Upgrade your financial team’s skills in modern product costing.
  • Adopt Modern Tools: Shift to automated, cloud-based costing solutions for better insights.
  • Stay Updated: Keep tabs on emerging trends in product costing.

For Young Accounting Professionals:

  • Deep Dive into Product Costing: Understand traditional and modern product costing methods.
  • Engage in Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest in finance and costing.
  • Seek Mentorship: Learn from experienced mentors in the field.

Mastering product costing is a demanding yet rewarding venture. It’s a cornerstone for financial strength and competitive edge in SMEs.

Ready to optimize your product costing? Contact us today to learn how we can help.


What are the key differences between traditional and modern product costing methods?

Traditional methods use past data and simple allocation for overheads. Modern methods use real-time data and precise allocation based on activities.

How can SMEs choose the right product costing method for their operations?

  1. Know your operations.
  2. Seek expert advice.
  3. Analyze your cost structure.
  4. Assess available resources.
  5. Consider future growth.

What initial costs are involved in transitioning to an automated product costing system?

  1. Software purchase or subscription.
  2. Implementation.
  3. Training.
  4. Ongoing maintenance and support.

How do product costing methods impact financial reporting and decision-making?

Accurate costing ensures correct financial statements. It helps in pricing, budgeting, and cost control, impacting financial decisions.

How can young accounting professionals develop expertise in product costing?

  1. Get a strong education in accounting.
  2. Gain practical experience.
  3. Keep learning about industry trends.
  4. Network with professionals.
  5. Obtain relevant certifications.

About the Author

Ajibola Jinadu is a distinguished Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. He earned his bachelor’s in applied accounting from Oxford Brookes University, UK.

With a rich career spanning 8 years at Deloitte and another 7 as a CFO, Ajibola has effectively partnered with leadership teams to craft financial strategies. These strategies enhanced the company’s adaptability in a fluctuating market.

An active contributor to his website, myCFOng, Ajibola pens insightful articles about small business management and financial tactics. His expertise has also made him a go-to speaker at industry events, where he delves into the importance of agility in financial planning for small businesses.


Welcome to myCFOng, the trusted hub for small business financial wisdom. Our team comprises seasoned professionals who merge hands-on experience with deep theoretical understanding.

At myCFOng, quality isn’t just a buzzword—it’s our signature. Every piece we publish undergoes thorough research, is grounded in data, and gets double-checked for accuracy. The frequent nods from industry giants speak volumes about our respected position in the sector.

With myCFOng, we’re on a mission: to equip small businesses with the financial tools and knowledge essential for today’s competitive landscape.


This article offers general insights and shouldn’t be taken as financial advice. The perspectives shared are the author’s alone.

For tailored guidance, it’s essential to consult with a qualified expert or your financial advisor, especially when addressing your unique financial concerns.

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