Cost Pool: A One Stop Shop to All Questions

What is Cost Pool?

A cost pool is pooling or clubbing together of expenses from various service lines basis certain cost drivers. These pools are further allocated to products or services depending upon the underlying usage of the relevant cost drivers.

The guiding principle behind the cost pool is to attribute indirect costs to certain cost drivers. This, in turn, helps allocate all overhead costs to the final product or service using a segregation mechanism.

The jargon may sound intimidating. However, ABC costing is the crispest and accurate method for cost allocation. Consider the below over-simplified example to explain the concept for further clarity.

Consider a business manufacturing two products- Tables & Chairs

There are broadly three types of expenses incurred:

Amount in $Cost Driver
Power & Fuel1500Kilo Watts Consumed
Labor600No of Hours
Rent600Area Occupied

These costs are then clubbed to form a cost pool of the final product. The cost pool is determined basis cost drivers. Cost drivers are nothing but units of activity. These units have a direct impact on the cost under question. For example, labor cost is directly affected by the labor hours worked (unit of activity).

These costs will be absorbed into final cost of production depending upon the volume of cost drivers utilized respectively.

Cost Pool

Advantages of Using Cost Pool

Single Overhead Recovery Rate

Every cost pool enlists the overhead amount to be absorbed basis the level of activity. Also, it is a level above the traditional costing system where overheads are absorbed at an overall factory level. A pool enables viewing the overhead rate for every department and service line individually. This, in turn, enables computation of the overhead rate for every product manufactured. Thus, a cost pool makes possible to view overhead recovery rates from multiple angles of the department as well as production.

Identifying Profit Centers 

Cost pool enables a view of overhead absorption at the department as well as the product level. It, therefore, becomes a matter of simple comparison against corresponding revenue to ascertain the extent of profitability generated by every individual product manufactured. Since a cost pool causes the overheads to be dissected to the hair, it provides the most accurate picture of product profitability.

Cost Efficiency & Budgetary Control

 The management can have a view of the expenditure incurred at every cut. A department that may seem to be working efficiently may be weighing heaviest as a cost component in the final product. Alternatively, a product being produced at the budgeted costs may still have scope for cost reduction owing to departmental inefficiencies waiting to be smoothed out.

Pricing Decisions

Having a pre-determined cost pool and computed recovery rates at hand enables management to maintain flexibility when it comes to pricing decisions. A breakup of the overall cost of production to the T makes known to the management exactly how much room it has, to maneuver when it comes to setting prices. Having such a detailed cost breakup makes businesses more confident in responding to market forces and tackling competition. 

Establishes Cause & Effect Relationship 

As discussed, a cost pool is an accumulation of all departmental and indirect costs as going into the making of the final product. This one on one mapping of the intermediary to the finished stage of production draws a clear thread as to what goes into the manufacture of the output. This information is useful in determining the service lines on which the output is most heavily dependent on and vice versa. It also brings out the extent of consumption thus drawing the attention of management to most emergent areas when required.1,2

Cost Pool Explained with Illustration

Consider a plant manufacturing 3 products- X, Y & Z.
Given, total overhead costs for the period amount to $750,000 and total machine run time is 2500 hours divided equally among all three products.
On analysis, the overheads could be broken down as below mentioned:

Costs relating to set-ups40%
Costs relating to materials handling10%
Costs relating to machinery30%
Costs relating to inspection20%
Total production overhead 100%

Activities for the Period:

Number of Set-UpsNo of Material MovementNo of Inspections
Product X7512150
Product Y11521180
Product Z48087670

Now, to allocate all costs to a product a pool, the cost driver rates must be computed. The working is as below:

Set Up CostMachine CostMaterial Handling CostInspection ExpenseTotal
Overhead Allocated ($)300,000225,000 150,000 75,000 750,000
Cost DriverNumber of Set UpsMachine HoursNo of Material MovementsCount of Inspections
Rate per Driver 447.7690125075

Therefore, the computed cost pool for each product is as follows:

Product XTotal Cost Pool(Activity X Rate per Driver)
Set Up Cost. 33,582(75 X 447.76)
Machine Cost. 75,000(833 X 90)
Material Handling Cost. 15,000(12 X 1250)
Inspection Expense. 11,250(150 X 75)
Total Cost Pool 134,832
Similarly, for Y & Z
Set Up Cost 51,405 214,925
Machine Cost 75,000 75,000
Material Handling Cost 26,250 108,750
Inspection Expense 13,500 50,250
Total Cost Pool 166,155 448,925


Activity Cost Pool. 2020. [Source]
3.3 Using Activity-Based Costing to Allocate Overhead Costs. 2020. [Source]
Last updated on : March 12th, 2020
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