10 4: Compute and Evaluate Materials Variances Business LibreTexts

These thin margins are the reason autosuppliers examine direct materials variances so carefully. Anyunexpected increase in steel prices will likely cause significantunfavorable materials price variances, which will lead to lowerprofits. Auto part suppliers that rely on steel will continue toscrutinize materials price variances and materials quantityvariances to control costs, particularly in a period of risingsteel prices.

Determine the actual material quantity

The actual price paid is the actual amount paid for materials per unit. If there is no difference between the standard price and the actual price paid, the outcome will be zero, and no price variance exists. Direct material quantity variance is calculated to determine the efficiency of the production department in converting raw material to finished goods. In order to improve efficiency, wastage of raw material must be reduced.

For all Materials together

In such cases, the responsibility of any unfavorable quantity variance would lie on the purchasing department. Irrespective of who appears to be responsible at first glance, the variance should be brought to the attention of concerned managers for quick and timely remedial actions. Like direct materials price variance, this variance may be favorable or unfavorable.

  1. The producer must be aware that the difference between what it expects to happen and what actually happens will affect all of the goods produced using these particular materials.
  2. If a company’s actual quantity used exceeds the standard allowed, then the direct materials quantity variance will be unfavorable.
  3. For example, the scrapping of a number of units in the production process may mean that the quality of incoming components was inadequate, which could be the problem of the purchasing department.
  4. By taking both prices at standard we are eliminating the effect of difference between the standard price and actual price, thereby leaving only the difference between usage quantities.
  5. Blue Rail produces handrails, banisters, and similar welded products.
  6. To begin, recall that overhead has both variable and fixed components (unlike direct labor and direct material that are exclusively variable in nature).

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Notice how the cause of one variance might influence anothervariance. For example, the unfavorable price variance at Jerry’sIce Cream might have been a result of purchasing high-qualitymaterials, which in turn led to less waste in production and afavorable quantity variance. This also might have a positive reorder point supply chain impacton direct labor, as less time will be spent dealing with materialswaste. The quantity variance can be a relatively arbitrary number, since it is based on a derived baseline. If this baseline is incorrect, then there will be a variance, even if the level of usage was, in fact, reasonable.

Illustration – Solution (without recalculating standards)

The actual quantity used can differ from the standard quantity because of improved efficiencies in production, carelessness or inefficiencies in production, or poor estimation when creating the standard usage. Similarly, poorer quality materials may be more difficult to work with; this may lead to an adverse labour efficiency variance as the workforce takes longer than expected to complete the work. In general, it can be assumed in exam questions that the production manager is responsible for the mix of input materials used. It can be tempting for production managers to change the product mix in order to make savings; these savings may lead to greater bonuses for them at the end of the day.

When a company makes a product and compares the actual materials cost to the standard materials cost, the result is the total direct materials cost variance. Review the following graphic and notice that more is spent on actual variable factory overhead than is applied based on standard rates. This scenario produces unfavorable variances (also known as “underapplied overhead” since not all that is spent is applied to production). As monies are spent on overhead (wages, utilization of supplies, etc.), the cost (xx) is transferred to the Factory Overhead account. As production occurs, overhead is applied/transferred to Work in Process (yyy). When more is spent than applied, the balance (zz) is transferred to variance accounts representing the unfavorable outcome.

If the actual quantity used is greater than the standard quantity, the variance is unfavorable. This means that the company has used excessive materials in producing its output. In this case, the actual quantity of materials used is \(0.20\) pounds, the standard price per unit of materials is \(\$7.00\), and the standard quantity used is \(0.25\) pounds. The direct materials variances measure how efficient the company is at using materials as well as how effective it is at using materials. There are two components to a direct materials variance, the direct materials price variance and the direct materials quantity variance, which both compare the actual price or amount used to the standard amount.

A company can compute these materials variances and, from these calculations, can interpret the results and decide how to address these differences. In other words, when actual quantity of materials used deviates from the standard quantity of materials allowed to manufacture a certain number of units, materials quantity variance occurs. As is the case when analyzing other variances, the direct material price variance needs to be assessed in the context of other relevant variances and factors, such as direct material price variance and direct labor variances.

You’re most likely to run into an unfavorable materials quantity variance because of one of the following issues. This reflects the standard cost allocation of fixed overhead (i.e., 10,200 hours should be used to produce 3,400 units). Notice that this differs from the budgeted fixed overhead by $10,800, representing an unfavorable Fixed Overhead Volume Variance.

In a multi-product company, the total quantity variance is divided over each of the products manufactured. The terms favorable and unfavorable relate tothe impact the variance has on budgeted operating profit. Companies using a standard cost system ultimately creditfavorable variances and debit unfavorable variances to incomestatement accounts.

The material quantity is usually set by the engineering department, and is based on an expected amount of material that should theoretically be used in the production process, along with an allowance for a reasonable amount of scrap. If the standard is excessively generous, there will be a long series of favorable material quantity variances, even though the production staff may not be doing an especially good job. Conversely, a parsimonious standard allows little room for error, so there is more likely to be a considerable number of unfavorable variances over time. Thus, the standard used to derive the variance is more likely to cause a favorable or unfavorable variance than any actions taken by the production staff.

For that reason, the material price variance is computed at the time of purchase and not when the material is used in production. The direct materials quantity variance should be investigated and used in a way that does not spoil the motivation of workers and supervisors at work place. Variances occur in most of the manufacturing processes and for almost all cost elements.

The ultimate motive behind their calculation is to control costs and enhance improvement. They should not be used as tools to find someone to blame or degrade. A good manager will want to explore the nature of variances relating to variable overhead. It is not sufficient to simply conclude that more or less was spent than intended. As with direct material and direct labor, it is possible that the prices paid for underlying components deviated from expectations (a variable overhead spending variance).

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