Accounting Information


Accurate cost data are required for the successful implementation of the integrated physical distribution management concept using total cost analysis, for the management and control of physical distribution operations, and to aid in setting selling prices and in justifying price differentials.

As the cost of physical distribution increases, the need for accurate accounting for the costs becomes increasingly critical. Since the physical distribution function is relatively more energy intensive and labor intensive than other areas of the firm, its ratio of costs to total company costs has been steadily increasing. Efficient and effective distribution policies cannot be determined until the costs related to separate functional areas and their interaction are made available to distribution decision makers.

The quality of the accounting data will influence management’s ability to exploit new markets, take advantage of innovative transportation systems, make changes in packaging, choose between common carriers and private trucking, increase deliveries or increase inventories, and determine to what extent the order-processing system should be automated.

The accounting system must be capable of providing information to answer the following questions:

a)        What are the impacts of physical distribution costs on contribution by product, by territory, by customer, and by salesperson?

b)        What are the costs associated with providing additional levels of customer service? What trade-offs are necessary and what are the incremental benefits or losses?

c)        What is the optimal amount of inventory? How sensitive is the inventory level to changes in warehousing patterns or to changes in customer service levels? How much does it cost to hold inventory?

d)        What mix of transportation modes and carriers should be used?

e)        How many field warehouses should be used and where should they be located?

f)          How many production set-ups are required? Which plants will be used to produce each product?

g)        To what extent should the order-processing system be automated?

To answer these and other questions requires knowledge of the costs and revenues that will change if the physical distribution system changes. That is, determination of a product’s contribution should be based on how corporate revenues, expenses, and hence profitability would change if the product line were dropped. Any costs or revenues that are unaffected by the decision are irrelevant to the problem. For example, a relevant cost woul be public warehouse handling charges associated with a product’s sales; a non-relevant cost would be the overhead costs associated with the firm’s private trucking fleet.

Implementation of this approach to deceision making is severely hampered by the lack of availability of the right accounting data or the inability to use the data when they are available. The best and most sophisticated models are only as good as the accounting input, and a number of recent studies attest to the gross inadequacies of distribution cost data.

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Logistics: Currency Rate of Exchange


Variations in the rate of exchange of the dollar against foreign currencies represent a difference of major importance in international logistics just as they do in any other facet of international operations. The design and operation of an international logistic system is based on a set of units of measure. Thus, as rates of exchange vary, so do the local costs associated with different local currencies; these include transportation, warehousing, inventorying, information processing, and other costs elements.

When variations in rates of exchange become substantial in magnitude, and significantly different between countries, it is usually necessary to re-evaluate the structure of the logistic system, to ensure that it is adjusted to keep it close to its optimal performance. By the same token, management reports must provide explicit identification of variations in costs due to variations in currency rates of exchange, as opposed to variations in performance.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Assessing Competitors’ Areas of Strength


  1. Excellence in product design and/or performance (engineering ingenuity)
  2. Low-cost, high-efficiency operating skill in manufacturing and/or in distribution
  3. Leadership in product innovation
  4. Efficiency in customer service
  5. Personal relationships with customers
  6. Efficiency in transportation and logistics
  7. Efficiencies in sales promotion
  8. Merchandising efficiency—high turnover of inventories and/or of capital
  9. Skillful trading in volatile price movement commodities
  10. Ability to influence legislation
  11. Highly efficient, low-cost facilities
  12. Ownership or control of low-cost or service raw materials
  13. Control of intermediate distribution or processing units
  14. Massive availability of capital
  15. Widespread customer acceptance of company brand name (reputation)
  16. Product availability, convenience
  17. Customer loyalty
  18. Dominant market share position
  19. Effectiveness of advertising
  20. Quality salesforce

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Fixed and Variabl Costs


The study of cost behavior in physical distribution is quite similar to that in manufacturing because most of the activities are repetitive in nature. Under such conditions physical measurements such as man-hours, units handled, and orders processed can be used to measure the activity. Changes in the level of cost incurred usually are caused by changes in the level of activity experienced.

The first step in understanding the cost behavior of physical distribution activities is to establish the relationship between the amount of each cost and an appropriate measurement of the level of activity. Variable costs are those costs that change in proportion to changes in volume and fixed costs. Examples of variable costs include the handling charges in a public warehouse and the cost of packing material used in a shipping department. Fixed costs include depreciation, security costs and taxes on company-owned warehouses, and the salary of transportation manager.

Some costs are mixed, that is, they contain both a fixed and a variable component. An example might be a warehouse labor. A basic crew of three may be required to cover the normal range of activity. However, if the volume of activity exceeds a certain amount, overtime or part-time employees may be necessary.

In some cases costs may be fixed over a relevant range but may increase in steps. These costs may be referred to as step variable cost or step fixed costs. The major distinction is the size of the steps. For example, in an order-processing department of twenty people labor may be considered a variable cost without making a serious error. This is because a relatively small percentage change in the number of orders could result in a change in the number of employees. However, in a department of three people the cost should be considered a fixed cost since a large percentage change in the number of orders processed usually would be required in order to eliminate an employee. Other examples of step fixed costs include the costs of management salaries, depreciation, and taxes associated with each warehouse that the company owns and operate.

Effective planning and control require that the total costs be separated into the fixed and variable components.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Nature of Business Market


Like final consumers, an organization purchases products to fill needs. However, its primary need—meeting the demands of its own customers—is similar from organization to organization. A manufacturer buys raw materials to create the company’s product, while a wholesaler or retailer buys products to resell. Companies also buy services from other businesses. Institutional purchases such as government agencies and nonprofit organizations buy things to meet the needs of their constituents.

 Business buying decisions, while handled by individuals, occur in the context of formal organizations. Environmental, organizational, and interpersonal factors are among the many influences in B2B markets. Budget, cost, and profit considerations all play parts in business buying decisions. In addition, the organizational buying process typically involves complex interactions among many people. An organization’s goals must also be considered in the organizational buying process.

 The B2B market is diverse. Transactions can range from orders as small as a box of paper clips or copy machine toner for a home-based business to deals as large as thousands of parts for an automobile manufacturer or massive turbine generators for an electric power plant. Businesses are also big purchasers of services, such as telecommunications, computer consulting, and transportation services. Four major categories define the business market: 1) the commercial market, 2) trade industries, 3) government organizations, and 4) institutions.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Shift to Customer Service


You may wonder what, exactly, caused the economic shift to service away from manufacturing. Some of the more prominent reasons are described herebelow:

  • Increased efficiency in technology. Because of the development and improvement of machines and computers, production and quality have increased. Two resulting side effects have been an increased need for service industries to care for the technology, and a decrease in manufacturing.
  • Globalization of the economy: Beginning in the 1960s, when worldwide trade barriers were lowered, a variety of factors have contributed to expanded international cooperation and competition. Since that time, advances in technology, communications, diplomacy, and transportation have opened new markets and allowed decentralized worldwide access for production, sales, and service.
  • Deregulation of many industries: the 1970s saw deregulation of industries (e.g., airlines, telephone) alongwith oil embargoes and political unrest (Vietnam, Iran) reducing US competition while allowing other countries free access to those areas of the world. The rapid deregulation of major US public services, competition (with an emphasis on providing service excellence) has flourished.
  • More women entering the workforce: Because more women are in the workplace, many of the traditional roles in society have shifted out of necessity or convenience to service providers.
  • Desire to better use leisure time: More than ever, workers of developed nations enjoy increasing amounts of leisure time. This has heightened a desire to relax, enjoy children, and do other things they value—people want to use their free time in more personally satisfying ways. To accomplish this, they now rely more heavily on service industries to maintain their desired lifestyles.
  • Expectation of quality service: Most customers expect that they will receive a quality product or service. If their expectations are not met, customers simply pick up the phone to call or visit a competing company where they can receive what they think they paid for. This created a need for more and better trained customer service professionals.
  • Better educated customers: Not only are customers more highly educated, they are also well informed about price, quality, and value of products and services. This has occurred in part because of advertising and publicity by companies competing for market share by the activity of consumer information and advocacy groups.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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