Apportionment of Overheads

Apportionment refers to the distribution of overheads among departments or cost centers on an equitable basis. In other words, apportionment involves charging a share of the overheads to a cost centre or cost unit. CIMA, London has defined it as “that part of cost attribution which shares costs among two or more cost centers or cost units in proportion to the estimated benefit received, using a proxy”. Apportionment is done in case of those overhead items which cannot be wholly allocated to a particular department. For example, the salary paid to the works manager of the factory, factory rent, general manager’s salary etc. cannot be charged wholly to a particular department or cost centre, but will have to be charged to all departments or cost centers on an equitable basis.

Primary distribution of overheads

Primary distribution of overhead involves allocation or apportionment of different items of overhead to all departments of a factory. This is also known as departmentalization of overheads. While making primary distribution the distinction between production departments and service departments disregarded since it is of little use. The distribution of different items of overhead in different departments is attempted on some logical and reasonable basis.

Basis of apportioning overhead expenses: It is stated that the total overhead expenses of a department comprises direct overhead expenses incurred in the departments itself as well as the apportioned overhead expenses of other service departments. Expenses directly incurred in the departments which are jointly incurred for several departments have also to be apportioned e.g. expenses on rent, power, lighting, insurance etc. In other words, common expenses have to be apportioned or distributed over the departments on some equitable basis. The following basis are most commonly used for apportioning items of overhead expenses among production and service departments.

BasisItems of Overheads
Floor area    Rent, rates and taxes paid for the building, air   conditioning, etc.
No. of employees or wages of each        Group  insurance,        canteen            expenses,   E.S.I. department        contribution, general welfare expenses, compensation and other fringe benefits, supervisions etc.
Capital values    Insurance and depreciation of plants, machinery and   Equipments.
Direct labour hours    Works manager’s remuneration, general overtime   expenses, cost of inter-department transfers etc.
No. of light pointsElectric light
Horse power of machines or machine hours    Electric power      
Audit feeSales or total cost    
Value or weight of direct materialStores overheads    
Weight, volume, tonne, mileDelivery expenses    

Re-apportionment of service department overheads (Secondary Distribution)

Normally products do not pass through service departments, but service departments do benefit the manufacture of products. Therefore, it is logical that product cost should bear and equitable share of the cost of service departments. The process of redistribution of the cost of service departments among the production departments is known as secondary distribution.

Criteria for secondary distribution

  • Service or use method: Under this method overheads are distributed over various production departments on the basis of service received. The greater is the amount of service received by a production department, the greater should be the share to be apportioned to that department. This criterion has greatest applicability in cases where overhead costs can be easily and directly traced to departments receiving the benefits. Since this method is based upon the extent of the benefit received by a department, the expenses are equitably apportioned. This method is considered to be fair as it takes into account the time element and consistent results.
  • Analysis or survey: In certain cases it may not be possible to measure exactly the extent of benefit which the various departments receive as this may vary from period to period. Therefore, overheads are apportioned on the basis of analysis and survey of existing conditions. This basis of apportionment includes arbitrary elements.
  • Ability to pay: This method presumes that higher the revenue of a production department, higher should be the proportionate charge for services. This method is simple to apply but it is generally considered inequitable because it penalizes the efficient and profitable units of a business to the advantage of the inefficient ones.
  • Efficiency or incentive method: This basis facilitates scientific distribution of service department cost to production departments. Under this method the apportionment of expenses is made on the basis of production targets. If the target is exceeded the unit cost reduces indicating a more than average efficiency. Opposite is the effect if the assumed levels are not reached. Thus, the department whose sales are increasing is able to show a greater profit and thereby is able to earn greater goodwill and appreciation of the management.
  • General use of indices: If data relating to actual services rendered cannot be obtained in some situations this method is adopted. The index selected is closely related to assured flow of service department cost to production departments. For instance, the service of cost accounting department can be apportioned to production departments on the basis of number of employees in each department.

Following is a list of basis, which are frequently used for apportionment of cost of service departments among production departments:

Service department costs  Basis of apportionment  
Maintenance departmentHours worked for each department
Employment/personnel departmentRate of labour turnover or number of employees in each department
Payroll or time department    Direct labour hours, machine hours number of employees
Stores keeping department    No. of requisitions, quantity or value of materials.
Welfare departmentNo. of employees in each department.
Internal transport serviceTruck hours, truck mileage or tonnage.
Building service departmentRelative area of each department.    
Power houseFloor area, cubic contents

Methods of Re-apportionment or Re-distribution

At first expenses of all departments are compiled without making a distinction between production and service departments but, then, the expenses of the service departments are apportioned among the production departments on a suitable basis. It is also possible that expenses of one service department may also be apportioned in part to another service department to arrive at the total expenses incurred on the latter department, which will then be distributed among production department.

Following are the methods of re-distribution of service department costs to production departments:

  • Direct distribution method: Under this method, the cost of service department are directly apportioned to production departments, without taking into consideration any service from one service departments to another service department.
  • Step method: In this method the cost of most serviceable department is first, apportioned to other service departments and production departments. The next service department is taken up and its cost is apportioned and this process is going on till the cost of last service department is apportioned. The cost of last service department is apportioned among production departments only.
  • Reciprocal service method: This method gives cognizance to the fact that where there are two or more service departments, they may render service to each other and therefore these inter-departmental services are to be given due weight in distributing the expenses of service departments. There are three methods available for dealing with inter service department transfer:
  • Simultaneous equation method: Under this method, the true cost of service departments are ascertained first with the help of simultaneous equations. These are then distributed among the production departments on the basis of given percentages.
  • Repeated distribution method: According to this method service department costs are apportioned over other departments, production as well as service according to the agreed percentages and this process is repeated until the total costs of the service departments are exhausted or the figures become too small to be considered for further apportionment.
  • Trial and error method: In this method the cost of one service department is apportioned to another service department. The cost of another service department plus the share received from the first service department is again apportioned to first service department and this process is continued until the balancing figure becomes nil. For instance, suppose there are two service departments x and y. These service departments render service to each other. Cost of service department x will be distributed to service department y. Again cost of service department y plus the share from service department x will be apportioned to x. The amount so apportioned to x will continue to be repeated till amount involved becomes negligible.

A company’s production for the year ending 30.3.2013 is given below:

Illustration 1

Items  Production Departments   P1      P2      P3Office  Stores  Work-   shopTotal  
Direct Wages   Direct Materials          Indirect Materials        Indirect Wages            Area in Square Metres Book value of Machinery Total H.P. of Machinery Machine Hours Worked  20,000 25,000 30,000   30,000 35,000 45,000 2,000   3,000   3,000 3,000   3,000   4,000 200      250      300 30,000 35,000 25,000 15        20        25 10,000 20,000 15,000  –   – 1,000 10,000 150 – – –  –   – 2,000 10,000 100 – – –  –   – 2,000 5,000 250 15,000 5 5,000  75,000   1,10,000 13,000 35,000 1,250 1,05,000 65 50,000  

General Expenses:

Rent                             12,500

Insurance                    1,050

Depreciation                15% of value of machinery

Power                          3,800

Light                            1,250

You are required to prepare an overhead analysis sheet for the departments showing clearly the basis of apportionment when necessary.


Overhead Analysis Sheet

Items  Basis of Apportionment  Production Departments P1          P2      P3  Service Departments   Office Stores Workshop                                  Total        
Direct Materials   Direct Wages Rent Insurance Depreciation Power Light     Apportionment of workshop O.H.     Apportionment of Stores O.H.   Apportionment of Office O.H.  Actual Actual Area Value of Machinery -do-   H.P. machine Area     Machine hour   Direct material     Direct wages  2,000 3,000 2,000     300 4,500   877 200  3,000 3,000 2,500     350 5,250   1,169 250  3,000 4,000 3,000     250 3,750   1,462 300  1,000 10,000 1,500     —   -150  2,000 10,000 1,000     —   -100  2,000 5,000 2,500     150 2,250   292 250  13,000 35,000 12,500     1,050 15,750   3,800 1,250  
12,877       2,765     3,573       3,373  15,519       5,530     4,168       4,217  15,762       4,147     5,359       5,060  12,650       –     –       ( – )  13,100       –     (-)13,100       12,650  12,442       (-)12,442     –       –  82,350       –     –       –  
  22,588    29,434    30,328    –    –    –    82,350

Get industry recognized certification – Contact us