Functions of Cost & Management Accounting
Functions and objectives of cost and management accounting include the following:
Planning is an important function of management accounting which is most effectively performed by the preparation of budgets and forecasts.
Forecasting is the process of estimation of the expected financial performance and position of a business in the future. Common types of forecasts include cash flow forecast, projected profit and loss and balance sheet forecast. Forecasts assist in determining the likely change in the financial performance and position of a business when considered in the context of the various assumptions used in forming the projections. Forecasting is the starting point in determining the resource requirements of a business which are quantified into budgets.
Budgets quantify the financial targets to be achieved by the management of an organization. Budgeting process often begins with the preparation of a master budget which is then used as a basis for the preparation of departmental and operational budgets. Budgeting helps in the effective allocation of resources of an organization between competing needs (e.g. departments, products, etc) in order to achieve the financial goals of a business. Budgets and forecasts help businesses to deal with potential problems proactively and avoid foreseeable bottlenecks in business resources.
Management accounting facilitates the provision of financial information to management for decision making. Management accounting also involves the evaluation of alternative strategies and actions by the application of techniques and concepts such as relevant costing, cost-volume-profit analysis, limiting factor analysis, investment appraisal techniques and client / product profitability analysis.
Control process in management accounting system starts by defining standards against which performance may be measured such as standard costs and budgets. Actual results are measured and any variance between targets and results are analyzed and where necessary, corrective actions are taken. Management accounting plays a vital role in the monitoring and control of cost and efficiency of the routine processes and as well as one-off jobs and projects undertaken by an organization.
Management accounting lays great emphasis on accountability through effective performance measurement. By setting targets for strategic business units and as well as for departments, management accounting assists in the assignment of responsibility for the achievement of business targets by individual managers. Responsibility accounting is achieved by appraising the performance of managers responsible for their business units while giving due consideration for factors not within their control or influence.