Uniform costing and interfirm comparison

09/05/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

Inter-firm comparison is a natural outcome of uniform costing system. Uniform costing is the foundation stone over which the structure of IFC is developed and adopted in a large scale. Inter-firm comparison can be defined as the technique of evaluating the relative performance, efficiency, costs and profits of firms in a given industry’. The meaning of IFC can be easily explained by considering the main object of the system.

In other words IFC consists of following procedure:

(a) Data are collected from participating organization or firm by their trade organization or centre of inter-firm comparison.

(b) The management of an organisation is provided with information which will allow them to determine the efficiency being achieved, measured by comparing the performances of other business.

(c) An attempt is made to show why results vary from one business to another, i.e., any weakness is highlighted.

(d) Extensive use is made of financial and cost ratios.

Objects of Inter Firm Comparison:

The main purpose of IFC is improvement of efficiency by showing the management of participating firm its present achievements and possible weaknesses. These firms have to contribute their data to the central body which acts as a neutral body. This central body ensures confidence and it gives report regarding comparisons only to participants.

Following are important objectives of inter-firm comparison:

(a) IFC analyses costs of different firms with a view to spot out relative efficiency.

(b) IFC provides aid to management in enforcing and reviewing budgetary control and standard costing. These techniques enforced in one firm are compared with those in other firms making more efficient use of the same. Inadequacies of standard costing and budgetary control are located by making inter-firm comparisons and remedial measures are introduced.

(c) IFC helps to prepare a comprehensive and detailed plan for firms or units to obtain optimum use of human and material resources.

The main objection of IFC is the improvement of efficiency and identification of weak points. IFC is a scheme consisting of exchange of information with regard to cost, profit, productivity and efficiency between the participating firms through a central organisation. IFC focuses the remedial measure of a number of problems related to profit, sales and production.

In inter-firm comparison coordinated and monitored through an apex body or central organisation, attention is usually concentrated on the following major important are:

(i) Is profit adequate?

(ii) How efficient is selling?

(iii) How efficient is production?

Organisation of IFC:

The organisational set up for inter firm comparison may be in the form of either a trade association or a Government department or centre for inter-firm comparison. There may be a trade association of participating firms. Firms submit their required information to the association. Trade association analyses the information collected from firm and presents report to each member firm.

The job of coordinating and analyzing of data provided by firms of an industry may be entrusted to a Government Department. The main objective of such organisation structure of IFC is to exercise price control and regulation of firms.

In UK, the British Institute of Management had set up centre for Inter-firm comparison in association with British Productivity council. The centre was established just to meet the demands of trade and industry for an expert body for inter-firm comparison. Such a type of organisation has to prepare schemes for inter firm comparison. In India also there is need of such centre. Thus there should be a central body to coordinate and monitor inter-firm comparison.

Method or Approach for Inter-Firm Comparison:

Firms wishing to obtain the benefits of inter-firm comparison have to approach the central body or apex body constituted for IFC. A fee may be charged for carrying out comparisons. The method of approach adopted by the central body will be governed by the type of industry or trade and the problems and circumstances present.

The possible procedure may be as below:

  1. Firms which are to participate in an inter-firm comparison have to submit their data to the central body. These figures are compiled on the basis of uniform definitions of terms, procedures, methods and accounting periods.
  2. After all necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the participating firms can benefit from the comparison, a number of ratios are compiled. These ratios are shown in a summary form distinguishing.

(a) Ratios for the group of firm participating in the inter-firm comparison.

(b) Ratios for a single firm.

Each firm is given a report compiled along these lines.

  1. The ratios for the group and the ratios for the single firm are compared one by one.
  2. Once any significant deviation from the norm (average return on capital employed) is established, the possible reasons for this deviation may be located by examining other ratios.

Ratios of Inter-Firm Comparison:

Ratios used in the inter-firm comparison are of four types:

(i) Primary Ratios

(ii) Supporting Ratios

(iii) General Explanatory Ratios

(iv) Specific Explanatory Ratios

All the ratios can be taken together to form a pyramid as given below:

In addition to above ratios, some other ratios may be used for the purpose of systematic analysis of operational results. These cover all aspects of business activities and are meant for measurement of effectiveness of the resources.

These additional ratios are briefly explained below:

(A) Ratios of Performance Measurement:

  1. Value of Direct Material/Value of Production
  2. Cost of Materials/Quantity Produced
  3. Cost of Scrap / Cost of Raw Material
  4. Quantity of Scrap / Quantity of Raw Material
  5. Cost of Rejection / Cost of Production
  6. Total Output / No. of Workers
  7. Cost of Production/Machine Hours or Labour Hours
  8. P.V. Ratio i.e., Contribution x 100/Sales
  9. Contribution / Labour Hours
  10. Wages/No. of Workers
  11. Total Fringe Benefits/No. of Workers
  12. Idle Time / Total Time
  13. Overtime Hours / Total Labour Hours
  14. Standard Hours for Actual Production / Actual Hours
  15. Actual Hours / Budgeted Hours
  16. Power Cost / Machine Hours
  17. Repair and Maintenance Cost / Cost of Production
  18. Advertising Cost / Selling Cost

(B) Ratios to Judge Profitability:

These ratios show how profitable are company’s operations.

  1. Gross Profit Ratio i.e., (GP/Sales) ×100
  2. Net Profit Ratio i.e., (NP / Sales) × 100

GP ratio indicates manufacturing or trading efficiency while NP ratio shows overall profitability

  1. Return on capital employed i.e., Profit / Capital employed

ROLE indicates overall performance from the stand point of profitability. It is primary ratio in the pyramid of ratios

(C) Ratios related to Turnover:

Turnover Ratio show how efficiently company is managing current assets.

  1. Stock turnover ratio i.e., cost of sales/Average stock

This ratio shows the efficiency of inventory management. Average stock is average of opening and closing stock

  1. Debtors Turnover Ratio i.e., Debtors * Days or Months in a year / Annual Credit Sales

Debtor’s turnover measures the efficiency in collection of debts

  1. Creditors Turnover Ratio i.e., (Creditors x No. of days of months in a year)/Annual Credit Purchases.

This ratio measures the efficiency of purchase department in realizing credit facilities

(D) Liquidity Ratios:

These ratios show the liquidity position of the company to meet its day to day needs of working capital

  1. Current Ratio i.e., Current Assets/Current Liabilities

Current Ratio shows the ability of the company to meet its maturing current liabilities. An ideal ratio is 2:1 but it may differ due to nature of business.

  1. Quick Ratio or Acid Test Ratio i.e., Quick Assets i.e., Current Assets excluding inventory/ Current Liabilities

Quick Ratio indicates ability of the company to meet its immediate current liabilities out of readily realizable current assets.


The central body collects and analysis the data supplied by participating firm, calculates relevant ratios and prepares report to be sent to individual member firm. Normally code numbers are used in place of names of the firms so that information may remain confidential. The results and interpretations are presented in the report in such a way that individual firm data could not be identified.

On receipt of the comparative data and report of inter-firm comparison, it is the job of the management of the firm to compare operating and other results and the corresponding ratios with ratio furnished by the central body of IFC.

Advantages of Inter-Firm Comparison:

  1. Under IFC the weakness of participating firms are revealed and the management will be guided to remedial actions.
  2. The firm will come to know the trend of sales, profit and cost of an industry or trade as shown by different ratios. If all firms are suffering from falling sales, it will be indicated by sales to capital or asset employed ratio. When an individual firm compares its own ratio with the ratio of the group, it will see that there are general reduction sales.
  3. Management of participating firm are provided with most significant facts on the basis of ratios carefully selected by the central body. The firm will have to do only the study of the ratios and the necessary action.
  4. Whether firm is doing better or worse than other firms is made known through the ratios. The firm can take positive steps to improve efficiency.
  5. The experience of the central body is at the disposal of participating firms. This knowledge can be very valuable in the analysis of performance and profitability of the firm.
  6. Participating firm provide information willingly knowing that this remains confidential.
  7. IFC develops cost consciousness among participating firm.
  8. IFC leads to avoidance of unfair competition. It guides in the direction of proper and positive efforts towards improvement of performances.
  9. Inter-firm comparisons and related data help in representing the problem of the industry to regulating authorities and the Government in an effective and convincing matter. Information regarding entire industry can be presented before the Government and not the isolated problem of individual firm.
  10. Collective information provided under IFC can help the industry in its negotiations with trade unions.

Limitations of IFC:

It is obvious that inter-firm comparison is useful in improving productivity, efficiency and profitability. But benefits are obtained only when ratios are properly calculated and impartially used. The limitations of ratio analysis should be taken into consideration. It should be noted that a single ratio is of a limited value and their trend is most important. Moreover the limitation of uniform costing should also be taken into consideration because uniform costing provides the very basis of inter-firm comparison

It should also not be ignored that certain extraneous factors such as prolonged strike, power shortage may also adversely affect the performance of the industry in a particular period. Limitations and short comings of annual returns and data may also affect the reliability of conclusions.

It can also be pointed out that there are practical limitation in the formation and maintenance of an independent central agency for inter-firm comparisons. The cost of introducing uniform costing may make the management of firm reluctant to participate in a scheme of inter-firm comparison.