Cost accounting has always been associated with industrial firms. However, in today’s competitive market, cost accounting is increasingly being used in service industries such as banks, insurance companies, transportation organisations, power generation companies, hospitals, passenger transport and railways, hotels, road maintenance, educational institutions, road lighting, canteens, and port trusts, among others.
The costing method utilised in these businesses is known as ‘Operating Costing’. According to the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants [UK] operating costing is, ‘that form of operating costing which applies where standardised services are supplied either by an undertaking or by a service cost centre within an undertaking’.
Nature of Operating Costing
The fundamental purpose of operating costing is to quantify the cost of the services delivered by the firm.
For achieving this, it is required to decide the unit of cost in such circumstances. The cost units differ from industry to industry. For example, in the products transport industry, the cost per tonne-kilometre is to be discovered while in the case of passenger transport, the cost per passenger kilometre is to be computed.
The following stage is to collect and categorise various charges.
The following subheadings are used:
• Fixed or standing charges
• Charges for semi-fixed or routine maintenance
• Charges that are variable or continuous.
One of the most significant characteristics of operating costs is that the majority of these expenditures are fixed in nature. For example, in the case of a passenger transport organisation, the majority of expenditures are fixed, while a few, such as diesel and oil, are variable and proportional to the number of kilometres travelled.