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Activity Cost Driver: Definition and Examples

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What Is a Cost Driver for an Activity?

An action that causes a business’s variable expenses to increase or decrease is an activity cost driver. It is related to the management accounting idea of activity-based costing, often known as a causal factor (ABC).
Journal of Business Research. It stands for “Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing.” Monitoring activity cost drivers is crucial since doing so may increase productivity and business profitability.

Functioning of Activity Cost Drivers

A cost driver impacts specific business operations costs. An activity cost driver in ABC affects labor, maintenance, or other variable costs. Cost drivers are crucial in ABC, a subset of management accounting that distributes an activity’s indirect costs or overheads.

An activity may be affected by many cost factors. For instance, the majority of activities in the production of goods are driven by direct work hours. Manufacturing all of the company’s goods or services will rise if labor costs are high. High storage costs will also raise the costs associated with producing goods or rendering services.

Machine hours, the amount of engineering change orders, customer interactions, product returns, manufacturing machine setup requirements, and inspection requirements are other technical cost factors. A business owner may more precisely estimate the real cost of manufacturing for the company if they can pinpoint the cost drivers.

Cost Distribution

When production equipment needs routine maintenance, the cost is deducted from the items the machine produces. For instance, machine hours were chosen as the cost driver. There is a $500 maintenance cost after 1,000 machine hours. Consequently, based on the cost driver of machine hours, each machine hour results in a 50-cent (500 / 1,000) maintenance cost assigned to the product being created.

Distribution of Administrative Fees

Allocating manufacturing expenses is made easier by using cost drivers. Production overhead must be allocated correctly to calculate a product’s real cost. Internal management bases the pricing of the goods they create on the cost of a product. Because of this, an entity’s profitability and operations are directly impacted by the choice of precise cost drivers.

A more precise method of assigning both direct and indirect costs is activity-based costing (ABC). ABC determines the real cost of each product by calculating the number of resources used in a commercial operation, such as person-hours or power.

Particular Things to Think About: The Subjectivity of Cost Drivers
As a foundation for allocating production expenses, management chooses cost drivers. Any industry norms do not govern the choice of cost drivers. The company’s management chooses cost drivers according to the costs incurred during manufacturing.

What Kinds of Cost-Drivers for Activities Are There?

Direct labor hours, warehouse costs, order frequency, and product returns are some of the factors that influence an activity’s cost.

Why Do You Use the Term Cost Driver?
The actions that cause corporate expenditures are known as cost drivers.

The Activity-Based Costing Method: What Is It?

ABC is a technique for allocating overhead and indirect expenses, such as wages and utilities, to goods and services. This allows businesses to understand expenses better, develop more effective pricing strategies, and generate larger profits.

Companies may save costs and understand how much an order costs by looking at activity cost factors. It’s important to recognize the value of having access to this information. The ultimate objective is to maximize earnings, and one important method to do this is to be aware of all expenditures and keep them under control.


  • An action that causes a business’s variable expenses to increase or decrease is an activity cost driver.
  • By considering the indirect costs, activity cost drivers provide a more precise estimation of the real cost of business activity.
  • Monitoring these varying expenses may assist in increasing productivity and business profitability.
  • Activity-based accounting (ABC) employs activity cost drivers.

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