Cost Strategy In A Lean Manufacturing Enterprise Accounting Essay


Textbooks, research and teaching continue to emphasise cost strategy in extremely simplified settings. A cost management consists of a set of formal methods developed for planning and controlling an organisation's cost-generating activities relative to its short-term objectives and long-term strategies (Kinney, Prather-Kinsey & Raiborn 2006). The cost management, according to Hansen & Mowen 2005), is primarily concerned with producing outputs for internal users using inputs and processes needed to satisfy management objectives. The cost strategy is not bound by externally imposed criteria that define inputs and processes. Instead, the criteria that govern the inputs and processes are set by the people in the company. Rayburn (1993) stated that cost strategy has three broad categories that provide information for: (1) costing out services, products and other objects of interest to management; (2) planning and control; and (3) decision-making. Since cost strategy is the focus of this paper, it should be stressed that cost strategy should help managers particularly in lean manufacturing decide what should be done, why should it be done, how should it be done, and how well it is being done. For example, information about the expected revenues and costs for a new product could be used as an input for target costing. At this stage, the expected revenues and costs may cover the entire life of the new product. Thus, projected costs of design, strategies, development, testing, production/manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and servicing would be essential information. For this, the lean manufacturing enterprise was considered in relation to cost strategy.


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Business entities face two major challenges: achieving profitability in the short run and maintaining a competitive position in the long run. An effective cost strategy must provide the information needed to meet both of these challenges. The modern use of cost accounting in all phases of business activity reflects its usefulness as a management tool for planning, control and decision-making. Relative to the cost strategies, the cost control system provides information for planning and for determining the efficiency of activities while they are being planned and after they are performed. An effective cost control system controls costs: (1) prior to an event through establishment of a budget and standards and other stated expectations of performance outcomes; (2) during an event by correcting deviations from plans or budgets and monitoring other aspects of operations relative to expectations; and (3) following an event by providing feedback on performance. Managers alone cannot control costs. An organisation is composed of many individuals whose attitudes and efforts should help determine how an organisation's costs can be controlled (Kinney, Prather-Kinsey & Raiborn 2006). This is where the part of the employees comes in. Being part of the organisation, they are very much involved in the cost control processes which the company imposes on them. Cost control is a continual process that requires the support and involvement of all employees at all times. Actual performance is a function of employee effort, employee skill and random effects (Kinney, Prather-Kinsey & Raiborn 2006). The random effects include performance measurement error, problems or inefficiencies created by co-workers or adjacent workstations. Efforts should be made to identify performance measures that minimize the risk borne by employees. At the worker level, performance measures should be specific and typically have a short-run focus - usually on cost.

In addition, the issues pertaining to manufacturing procedures also react to the costs management imposed by any business organisation. Actually, Clark & Lorenzoni (1997) asserted that cost strategies has the following four objectives: (1) to focus management attention on potential cost trouble spots in time for corrective or cost-minimizing action (i.e., detect potential budget overruns before, rather than after, they occur); (2) to keep each supervisor informed of the budget for his area of responsibility and how his expenditure performance compared to the budget; (3) to create a cost-conscious atmosphere so that all persons in the organisation will be cost-conscious and aware of how their activities impact on the overall firm cost; and (4) to minimise firm costs by looking at all activities from the viewpoint of cost reduction.

Particularly, firms engaged in lean manufacturing strategy are showing expressive development with regards to cost strategies. Lean production or the known lean manufacturing is based on the Toyota Production System which, when properly implemented, can dramatically improve productivity and lessen business costs by as much as 95 percent when compared with traditional production systems according to Pzydeck, (1999). It was developed by Taiichi Ohno, Toyota's production executive, in order to provide solution to Japan's s system of high-variety production and meet the demands of the customers. Lean was designed specifically as an application to the mass-production system of Toyota because the company can not manufacture identical products in bulk. Lean manufacturing aims to minimize waste called muda so as to increase the value of the products and the production process. The wastes or muda include all the produced good that fall short behind the company's quality standards as influenced and dictated by the elements of time, process, and raw materials (Pzydeck, 1999).

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Among the solutions provided by the lean manufacturing system include (1) cost reduction in the production and manufacturing system of companies, (2) creative and innovative initiatives on the part of the employees in order to contribute to the success of the company, (3) control systems in the execution of the production plans and projects, (4) performance quality in terms of clear instructions, specifically defined objectives, as well as communicated and centered goals, (5) decrease in training expenditures, (6) implementation of alternative operations management framework, and (7) continuous and sustained development of the business organization (Lean Software Quality Management, 2009). The lean machine is likewise known in the ease of its use and installation as well as its cost effectiveness in dealing with wastes in most quality systems thereby saving time and money for the software. It can integrate information, reports, graphs, and other tools that work together to simplify and deliver information for improved business operations which minimize the time spent on other software programs (The Lean Machine 2009).

Since production systems are dependent primarily on existing economies of scale, expensive costs incurred by the company in the production process are distributed evenly throughout the production stages because costly production are highly sensitive to depreciations in the market (Sullivan, 2002). With the trends and pressures towards globalization among the members of the manufacturing industry, companies are seeking means and ways to eradicate useless outputs in production that decrease the value and quality of the products and services offered to the customers. Manufacturing companies are constantly finding ways of reducing expenditures, in order to effectively compete with other companies and to eventually make profit. The use of lean manufacturing in the production systems of manufacturing companies have been gaining popularity and reputation for the advantages and benefits it offers in the industry (Phelps, 2004 and Black, 1995). These include:

The various manufacturing techniques and concepts that have been incorporated to lean manufacturing system,

Applicability of the lean manufacturing system to different types and sizes of production companies,

Superior-quality product outputs that are produced within schedule and offered at the lowest possible cost, and

Flexible and efficient production standards resulting to increased product variation.

According to Black (1995) manufacturing companies are frequently faced with constraints in the production line in terms of existing manufacturing machines. Normally, companies are equipped with machines that are huge in order to meet the demands of the customers. Problems incorporated to production machines such as costly set-up expenditures and lack of versatility was provided solution through the lean manufacturing approach. In lean manufacturing, the use of flexible or versatile production machines is encouraged in order to increase their functionality to different manufacturing designs and objectives. Lean machines are most of the time characterized with not very huge mechanical infrastructures within the plant or operation house and are normally used for different types of product manufacturing thereby reducing the length of the cycle time. The reduction of cycle time aims to immediately deliver the customized products to the customers within a shorter period of time at high standards (Black, 1995).

Ndahi (2006) indicated that the utilization of lean manufacturing versatile machines and its integration with computerized manufacturing processes enabled flexible design, process planning, machining, quality control, inspection, and inventory among manufacturing companies. It has likewise introduced better financial controls and operations management techniques in its emphasis on waste eradication in the production processes. The lean manufacturing concept highlights the importance of avoiding overproduction as well as inclusion of unnecessary materials to the ordered products along with problem in idle time, logistics, inventory, warehousing, performance of the labor force, and production products that are below quality standards. The production concept of lean manufacturing involves assessment and evaluation of the entire production operation of companies in order to recommend means of improving the existing production systems. The system's drive toward effective reduction of waste is likewise highly acclaimed for its environmental contributions thereby supporting sustainable developments.

Meanwhile, according to Tinham (2004) lean manufacturing contribute to cost reduction efforts of companies in terms of supply chain and logistics concerns. The extreme competition in the global market environment necessitates the creation of production systems that will enhance the manufacturing as well as marketing capacities of companies. Through lean production approaches, manufacturing companies are provided with smooth supply chain and logistics process through the support and integration of information technologies, open communication with partner companies, and feasible production plans and targets. Mottershed (2001) likewise incorporated lean manufacturing approaches to the concept of "pull system" in which the rate of customer demand dictates the time completion of each production project.

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Lean likewise contribute to the competitive concerns of the companies that use it since it provides solution to issues on cost and product quality which serve as the primary avenues of aggressive competition in the global market environment. Continuous competition in the market requires lean manufacturers to pursue innovative efforts of contributing to quality management approaches and practices (Chin, 2003).


From the discussions, it shows that lean manufacturing systems highlights improvements in existing cost and quality control systems of manufacturing companies since it enables a shift in quality control perspectives from inspection-oriented approach to defect-prevention practices which makes possible inspection at every stage of the production system. Through the lean manufacturing approach, companies are capable of inspecting the step by step procedures of production which includes evaluation during material purchase, delivery, inventory, and supply processing as compared to the traditional and conventional inspection practices that are undertaken at the beginning, during, and at the end of the production process. However, despite the promised production improvement and competitiveness to manufacturing companies, the lean manufacturing approaches are still merely evaluated by companies due to independent apprehensions with regards to its production principles. As a result, manufacturing companies are utilizing the lean concept as measures of performance in their production processes instead of full integration in their operations. The application of lean manufacturing approaches to the company's production system involves its objective towards zero inventory at all levels and stages of the manufacturing process. But such objective towards zero inventories may be impossible for large production houses in which inventory and warehousing contribute to the smooth production procedures and the eventual reduction of lead times and in increasing profitability. While customer satisfaction defines existing indictors of competition in the global market, the overhead cost that could result from such initiative will be added to price of the finished products which could be detrimental to targeted sales.