What are direct costs?

Direct Cost

The employees who work on the production line are considered direct labor. Their wages can also be attributed as a direct cost of the projects. To calculate direct costs of a product, every expense that is incurred as a result of creating that product must be included.

  • Businesses may have different views about whether or not to count workshop or factory expenses as direct costs.
  • But to do so, you need to have accurate and detailed records to back up your claims.
  • Most federal agencies and other sponsoring organizations pay the university for indirect costs in addition to the direct costs of a grant or contract award.
  • By determining the costs that go directly into a product, you know the minimum amount you must sell the product for to recoup the costs.
  • Understanding the true total cost of producing goods and services enables a business to make sound decisions, particularly in the areas of pricing, budgeting, operational efficiency, and taxation.
  • This list is only a summary; a comprehensive list can be found at the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards issued by the Office of Management and Budget.

For example, factory overhead costs can be apportioned to each unit produced by the total number of products manufactured, or based on the number of hours it took to manufacture each product. This helps a company to calculate the overhead cost per unit so that prices can be set accordingly to ensure a profit is made on each product even after incorporating all indirect expenses. The most commonly used examples of direct costs are direct labor, direct materials, manufacturing supplies and sales commissions.

What is a direct cost?

By posting the cost of shipping to each department, the operating expenses for each division is correctly reported. Let’s look at a couple of examples to help us understand direct costs better. Accordingly, the unit cost of production would be measured using the newest or oldest inventory items. Salary of a production supervisor who oversees the full manufacturing process of a company’s entire product line encompassing many different products.

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Indirect costs include fuel, power consumption, office supplies, and support staff labor. This is especially true for entities with high ratio of indirect to direct costs. If a company receives government funding, it may be the case that the government provides guidelines with the funding. The guidelines may include instructions on cost reporting and which expenses constitute a direct or indirect cost as a requirement for obtaining the loan. In such a scenario, understanding which costs constitute direct and indirect costs can make it critical to maintain or gain additional funding.


Direct labor cost refers to the work directly related to a product or service being produced, delivered and sold, such as workers on a manufacturing assembly line. Although most direct costs tend to be variable, there are exceptions to the rule and some direct costs may be considered fixed. In order to avoid possible double-charging of Federal awards, the University is required to be consistent in its treatment of each item of cost incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances. However, an expense that would normally be charged as indirect or Facilities and Administrative (F&A) cost can sometimes be charged as a direct cost, depending on circumstances. If we look at the cost sheet, we will see that two types of costs stand out.

Unallocated indirect expenses are reported as operating expenses to calculate operating profit. Assign the value of direct cost to each expense in the following step.

What are direct costs?

Direct business expenses may qualify for deductions, helping you reduce the amount of taxes you have to pay for operating and profiting from your business. Direct costs are relatively easier to control through efficient management than indirect or overhead costs. The Fixed CostFixed Cost refers to the cost or expense that is not affected by any decrease or increase in the number of units produced or sold over a short-term horizon. It is the type of cost which is not dependent on the business activity. Let’s see the top differences between a direct cost vs. indirect cost.

  • More information about the most commonly used types of direct costs can be accessed by following the links to their separate pages in the website navigation.
  • Direct costs are calculated by adding up all the materials, labor and other expenses that directly contribute to the production of a single cost object, such as a unit of product or service.
  • ; however, other documents or non-NIH entities may refer to them as indirect costs.
  • Being able to analyze the costs of each internal group is important, especially when budget cuts are necessary or when searching for ways to trim costs.

While direct costs can be easily attributed to a single cost object, indirect costs need to go through an allocation process to be assigned to a product, service, project, department, or other cost object. The most common examples of direct costs include the following expenditures, assuming they are specific to a cost object, such as a product, service, department or project. Electricity used to run the machinery and produce raw materials for manufacturing products would be labeled direct costs. However, the electricity required to run the lights and fans in employee cubicles may be an indirect expense.

For example, the cost of an office manager’s salary would likely not be considered a direct labor cost because they are not directly involved in the production process. Depending on how costs are categorized, other direct costs may or may not include things such as manufacturing supplies, shipping, fuel, or power consumption. The most common examples of indirect costs include the following expenditures, assuming they are not specific to a cost object, such as a product, service, department or project.

What is direct cost and examples?

A direct cost is a price that can be directly tied to the production of specific goods or services. A direct cost can be traced to the cost object, which can be a service, product, or department. Direct costs examples include direct labor and direct materials.

https://business-accounting.net/s do not need to be fixed in nature, as their unit cost may change over time or depending on the quantity being utilized. An example is the salary of a supervisor that worked on a single project. This cost may be directly attributed to the project and relates to a fixed dollar amount. Materials that were used to build the product, such as wood or gasoline, might be directly traced but do not contain a fixed dollar amount. This is because the quantity of the supervisor’s salary is known, while the unit production levels are variable based upon sales. The other costs of producing the furniture are indirect product costs, since they must be allocated to the furniture based on labor hours, machine hours, or some other activities. However, the indirect product costs could be direct production department costs.

Importance: Top 5 Benefits of Cost Management

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  • However, it excludes all the indirect expenses incurred by the company.
  • Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work.
  • If a decision affecting a certain cost object determines whether the cost is incurred, then it is a direct cost.
  • So, for example, if we try to understand how much rent is given for sitting the machinery in a place, we won’t be able to do it because the rent is paid for the entire space, not for a particular place.
  • For example, a cost object could be a company division, a product line, a unit of inventory, or even a decision.
  • Basically, Direct costs vs indirect costs is an important concept that every project manager should know.

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