July 1, 2023

How Businesses Can Identify and Increase Efficiency with Managerial Accounting

Managerial accounting is a form of internal reporting that helps business owners and others involved in the organization’s decision making. It looks at individual processes and products to see how they are functioning via practical data points. This is done in hopes of applying data analysis to improve the business’ operational efficiency.

It is important to keep in mind the intended audience and data structure with regard to managerial accounting versus financial accounting. While managerial accountants analyze information, it is not subject to GAAP requirements; however, financial accountants must present company information according to GAAP standards – and such information is often intended for external consumers like investors or lenders.

Measuring Inventory Levels

One way that businesses turn to managerial accounting is through scrutinizing their inventory turnover. Companies that analyze how often they have sold and replenished their inventory over a measured time period can make better decisions about their inventory cycle (production, buying new input materials, marketing, and pricing). Managerial accounting professionals help businesses identify carrying costs of inventory. It’s expressed as follows:

Inventory Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) / Average Value of Inventory

Higher ratios usually indicate greater company sales. Lower sales generally indicate there are problems with product or service demand.

Monitoring Outstanding Accounts Receivables

Analyzing accounts receivable can provide beneficial insights on a business’ bottom line. An accounts receivables (AR) aging report categorizes AR invoices based on how long they have been outstanding. The report can categorize how late payables are (30 days or less, 31-60 days, 61-90 days and so on). Based on the results, companies can look at historical data, along with projected sales, to figure out how much they need to allocate for uncollectable accounts. Companies also can proactively reduce credit limits, determine when it’s time to stop doing business with a customer/client, and send unpaid bills to collection.

Price Variance Considerations

When a business looks at price variance, the first step is to take the final price paid for each unit, then subtract the unit’s standard cost from the former figure. The resulting figure is multiplied by however many units were actually bought. It’s a way for managerial accountants to determine the difference, either a positive variance (increased costs above the standard price) or a negative variance (decreased costs relative to the standard price), between the cost planned and the cost at time of purchase.  

The formula is expressed as follows:

Price Variance = (Actual Price – Standard Price) x Actual Quantity

If a business is planning to make a purchase for their next fiscal year, it may want only 5,000 widgets that cost $10 per widget. The business gets a bulk discount of $1 per widget, bringing it down to $9 per widget. However, when the time to purchase the 5,000 widgets comes along, it realizes it only needs to purchase 3,500 widgets. At the quantity of 3,500 widgets, the business won’t receive the bulk discount, reverting the cost back to $10 per widget, creating a variance of $1 per unit or widget.

Using the formula, it could be expressed as follows:

Price Variance = ($10 – $9) x 3,500 = $1 x 3,500 = $3,500. Since circumstances changed at the business between their initial planning and ultimate purchase time-frame, the price variance resulted in $3,500.

While managerial accounting has many different tools for analysis, the one common thread is that regardless of the tool used, managerial accountants help businesses find higher levels of operational efficiency.