Time-Based Activity Based Costing

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Time-Based Activity-Based Costing (TBABC) is a refined version of Activity-Based Costing (ABC). This costing methodology identifies and allocates costs to specific activities or processes within an organization. TBABC incorporates the time factor, which helps gain deeper insights into the cost drivers and their impact on the overall cost structure. This method provides a more accurate representation of the true cost of products, services, and processes.

Purpose: The primary purpose of TBABC is to identify the true cost of activities, products, and services by considering the time spent on each activity. This enables organizations to make informed decisions about resource allocation, pricing, process improvements, and cost reductions.

Role: TBABC plays a crucial role in providing detailed cost information, enabling managers to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of operations, identify non-value-added activities, and facilitate strategic decision-making.


Activities: The tasks or processes performed in an organization that consumes resources and time. Time: The duration required to complete a specific activity. Resources: The personnel, machinery, and materials involved in the execution of activities. Cost Drivers: Factors that determine the consumption of resources and time and, consequently, the cost of activities. Importance: TBABC is important because it offers a more accurate reflection of the costs associated with activities by considering the time factor. This enables organizations to pinpoint inefficiencies, improve resource allocation, and make better-informed decisions.

History: TBABC emerged as an extension of ABC, developed in the 1980s by Robert S. Kaplan and W. Bruns. The introduction of the time dimension in TBABC provided organizations with a more comprehensive understanding of the cost structure.


Improved cost accuracy: By considering the time factor, TBABC provides a more precise representation of costs. Better decision-making: TBABC helps identify cost drivers and inefficiencies, enabling organizations to make strategic decisions. Enhanced performance measurement: TBABC allows managers to evaluate the efficiency of processes and activities based on their true costs. Cost reduction: By identifying and eliminating non-value-added activities, organizations can reduce costs and improve profitability. Pros:

Better cost allocation: TBABC enables more accurate cost allocation, improving pricing and resource management. Improved resource allocation: TBABC helps identify underutilized resources and areas where resources can be reallocated for better efficiency. Facilitates continuous improvement: By pinpointing inefficiencies, TBABC encourages process improvements and innovation. Cons:

Complexity: TBABC can be complex and time-consuming, requiring a detailed analysis of activities, resources, and time factors. Cost of implementation: The implementation of TBABC may require significant investment in training, software, and process redesign. Examples to illustrate key concepts:

  • A manufacturing company uses TBABC to analyze its production process. They discover that machine setup, a non-value-added activity, is consuming a significant amount of time and resources. By reducing setup time, the company can improve efficiency, lower costs, and increase profitability.
  • A service-based company, such as a consulting firm, might use TBABC to understand the time its consultants spend on different activities. By identifying activities that consume excessive time, the company can streamline processes and allocate resources more effectively, improving profitability and customer satisfaction.

Advantages of TBABC:

Enhanced cost control: TBABC offers a better understanding of the cost structure, which helps organizations identify areas with potential for cost savings or cost avoidance. This granular view of cost allocation supports better cost control and optimization.

Improved competitive advantage: By identifying inefficiencies and cost drivers, organizations can focus on optimizing their processes, leading to a competitive advantage in terms of cost and efficiency.

Facilitates product and service differentiation: TBABC enables organizations to price their products and services more accurately, based on their true costs. This can lead to better product differentiation and market positioning.

Supports performance management: TBABC helps managers evaluate employee performance based on the time spent on value-added activities, which can be used for setting targets, evaluating performance, and determining incentives.

Challenges of TBABC:

Resistance to change: Implementing TBABC can be a significant change for an organization, and it may face resistance from employees who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the new system.

Integration with existing systems: Organizations may encounter difficulties integrating TBABC with their existing accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which could require additional investment in technology and customization.

Maintenance and updating: TBABC requires regular maintenance and updating of activity cost data to ensure accuracy and relevance. This can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

Examples to illustrate key concepts:

A hospital uses TBABC to analyze its patient care process. They find that a significant amount of time is spent on administrative tasks, such as paperwork and data entry, which increases the overall cost of patient care. By automating these tasks or streamlining the process, the hospital can reduce costs and allocate more time to patient care, improving patient satisfaction and outcomes.

A software development company implements TBABC to understand the time spent on various activities, such as design, coding, testing, and debugging. By identifying activities that consume excessive time, the company can invest in training, tools, or process improvements to optimize efficiency and reduce costs.

In conclusion, Time-Based Activity-Based Costing is a valuable tool for organizations seeking to better understand and manage their cost structures. By considering the time factor, TBABC provides a more accurate representation of the true cost of activities, products, and services. While implementation can be complex and resource-intensive, the insights gained from TBABC can drive informed decision-making, process improvements, and cost reduction, ultimately contributing to improved profitability and competitiveness.

See Also