definition of cost center

Running a cost center is a logistical burden that requires a company to perform potentially extra work to track, collect, and analyze information. However, there’s plenty of reasons why a company would still choose to do so, and each of the benefits highlighted below are reasons why cost centers can be invaluable to the long-term success of a company. A production cost center refers to a cost center that is engaged in regular production (e.g. converting raw materials into finished products). In other words, a cost unit is a standard or unit of measurement of the goods manufactured or services rendered. Factories might choose productive cost centers whereas an administrative wing might choose an unproductive cost center.

  • At the heart of cost centers is the notion of fiscal responsibility, the idea that different groups of individuals should be responsible for the financial outcome of their area.
  • A cost centre is nothing but a separate department within a business to which costs can be allocated.
  • According to the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants, the “operation cost center is a center which consists of those machines and/or persons which carry out the same operations.”
  • You can have one or more cost centres or profit centres in your company, as needed, and allocate the breakup of incomes and expenses to different cost centres or profit centres.
  • With greater insights into the financial aspects of different areas of their company, upper management can use cost center data to make better decisions.

For instance, the cost unit of steel is naturally ascertained in terms of per ton. Similarly, the cost unit of carrying a passenger by a transporter is naturally ascertained in terms of the distance traveled how to create an elevator pitch with examples in kilometers. A cost unit may be expressed in terms of number, length, area, weight, volume, time, or value. The Control data is used to lock the cost center against planning and posting activities.


Finance Strategists is a leading financial literacy non-profit organization priding itself on providing accurate and reliable financial information to millions of readers each year. This team of experts helps Finance Strategists maintain the highest level of accuracy and professionalism possible. All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. The simple and straightforward division in an organization can be classified as cost center because cost is easy to measure. Our mission is to empower readers with the most factual and reliable financial information possible to help them make informed decisions for their individual needs.

A company may choose to have as many cost centers it feels necessary to best understand how the supporting, non-revenue areas of the company support the revenue-generating areas. Companies must also be mindful that having too many cost centers creates an administrative burden on tracking expenses and may dilute the usefulness of information. A service cost center groups individuals based on their function and may more closely refine the costs within a department.

Cost Center

This center of activity is different from a profit center in which a profit center does generate both revenues and expenses. With greater insights into the financial aspects of different areas of their company, upper management can use cost center data to make better decisions. This includes a better understanding of what costs it may take to scale operations to target revenue levels, how a merger may impact company profits, or what targets are most reasonable for a long-term strategic plan. Some examples of a cost center include the accounting department and the legal department. Neither one of these departments helps produce products or increase sales in any way. This isn’t to say that these departments aren’t necessary and can’t save the company money in the long-term.

  • Companies may opt to include or exclude the costs necessary for the service cost center to be successful.
  • Its profits and losses are calculated separately from other areas of the business.
  • A cost center is a business unit that is only responsible for the costs that it incurs.
  • Companies can opt to segment out cost centers however they choose, as the end goal of a cost center is to isolate information for better internal data collecting and reporting.

A cost center is a collection of activities that management wishes to track as a group to better understand the expenses necessary to support an organization. Cost centers do not earn money, but they are critical parts in helping the company run and often can not simply be eliminated. By breaking out cost center activities, a company can gauge the cost of administrative operating the business.

Does a Company Need to Have a Cost Center?

TallyPrime enables you to track incomes and expenses incurred in the cost centres or profit centres of your business. Furthermore, you can create multiple cost categories for parallel allocation of cost centres or profit centres. You can use cost centre report capability in the product in order to view all the incomes and expenses incurred in a particular cost centre or profit centre. Take a free-trial of TallyPrime today and make the most of its cost centre capability to boost your business efficiency even more. Cost centres in an organisation are nothing but different departments or verticals that handle processes, imperative to run an organisation, irrespective of revenue generation. These departments come with cost to company but only indirectly contribute to revenue generation.

definition of cost center

As opposed to the IT department above, a personal cost center would exclude physical materials. This type of cost center allows a company to isolate only the cost of headcount without being distorted by equipment, materials, or other goods. The segmentation of expenses into cost centres will allow for a great level of control and analysis of the overall costs involved. Accounting resources at all levels will allow for more efficient calculation and accounting. A service cost center involves providing services to the production department. For example, payroll processing department, powerhouse, service centers, plant maintenance centers, etc.

What are the two parts of cost centers?

For instance, a company may feel an IT department is too large of a cost center and may want to break out employees by more dedicated services. Companies may opt to include or exclude the costs necessary for the service cost center to be successful. On a very similar note, a company often decides to segregate out costs for a project or service-driven endeavor. This project may simply be a capital investment that requires tracking of a single purpose over a long period of time. This type of cost center would most likely be overseen by a project management team with a dedicated budget and timeline. Expense segmentation into cost centers allows for greater control and analysis of total costs.

definition of cost center

As budgets are prepared, cost centers are intentionally forecast to operate as a loss; in fact, budgeted revenue will be $0. Instead, management’s goal is to minimize the deficit of a cost center while still providing general support to profit centers. A cost centre is nothing but a separate department within a business to which costs can be allocated. This also includes departments that do not produce directly but incur costs to the business. For example, the departments that are not accountable for the profitability and investment decisions of the business, but are responsible for incurring some of its costs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *