Control your cost by controlling your reports

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Cost control refers to management’s effort to monitor, evaluate, and trim expenditures.
Managers should influence the actions of individuals who are responsible for performing tasks, incurring costs, and generating revenues.  First managers plan the way they want people to perform, then they implement procedures to determine whether actual performance complies with these plans. Cost control is a continuous process that begins with the annual budget.


Control reports are informational reports that tell management about a company’s activities. Control reports are only for internal use, and therefore management directs the accounting department to develop tailor-made reporting formats. Accounting provides management with a format designed to detect variations that need investigating. In addition, management also refers to conventional reports such as the income statement and balance sheet, and to external reports on the general economy and the specific industry.

Control reports need to provide an adequate amount of information so that management may determine the reasons for any cost variances from the original budget. A good control report highlights significant information by focusing management’s attention on those items in which actual performance significantly differs from the standard.

Managers perform effectively when they attain the goals and objectives set by the budget. With respect to profits, managers succeed by the degree to which revenues continually exceed expenses. In applying the following simple formula,

Net Profit = Revenue – Expenses

Managers realize that they exercise more control over expenses than they do over revenues. While they cannot predict the timing and volume of actual sales, they can determine the utilization rate of most of their resources; that is, they can influence the cost side. Hence, the evaluation of management’s performance and the company’s operations is cost control.

The effective implementation of a cost control takes planning and time. It should be seen as a continuous process and one that will need ongoing attention.