This chapter addresses how managers analyze costs to make short-term outsourcing decisions using incremental analysis. This type of decision is often called a 'make or buy' decision because it involves a decision of whether to continue 'making' (manufacturing) a product versus buying it from an outside company. From a business perspective, outsourcing enables a company to  reduce costs or benefit from supplier efficiencies.

 


Incremental Analysis Components


Similar to other types of short-term decisions, incremental analysis is the easiest and quickest approach to analyzing decisions and saves significant time and confusion compared to preparing and comparing side-by-side income statements. The incremental amounts are based on the difference in the cost of buying a product or service from an external supplier compared to the cost of producing the item or providing the service in house. The 'make' part of the decision is called insourcing and the 'buy' part of the decision is called outsourcing. When services are involved, if a company pays another company to provide a service such as internal auditing or payroll, it is called outsourcing. If the company uses its own employees to provide the service, it is considered insourcing.

 

Incremental Costs

Incremental costs are the additional costs incurred from outsourcing. The key cost is the purchase price of the products or the cost of the services that are being provided by other companies.

 

Incremental Cost Savings

Incremental cost savings are reductions of costs that will no longer be incurred as a result of outsourcing. They are often called avoidable costs because if a company outsources, it can 'avoid' certain costs. Variable product cost savings are always incremental. Because they reduce total costs, they cause profits to increase. In some situations, a portion of fixed costs can be saved such as equipment rental costs or supervisor salaries that can be avoided.

 

When companies evaluate the cost to produce products, they typically list each of the four manufacturing costs separately---direct labor, direct materials, variable overhead, and fixed overhead costs. The first three costs are variable, which are incremental cost savings. Fixed overhead costs that are avoidable are incremental, because these costs can be 'avoided' if outsourcing occurs.   

 

Opportunity Costs

Opportunity costs are the costs forgone as a result of selecting a different alternative. They are always incremental. For example, if a company decides to outsource, it is able to lease its factory space that the product being outsourced no longer will occupy.

 


Amounts That Are Not Relevant in Outsourcing Decisions


An outsourcing decision is whether to buy a product or service from outside the company or produce it internally---an impact only on the cost. There is no implication of changing the selling price. Just because a company chooses to outsource does not mean it automatically changes its selling prices. As such, incremental revenue is not relevant in outsourcing decisions.

 

Many fixed costs remain the same in total no matter what level of production. However, some fixed costs can be eliminated if a company decides to outsource. Those that can be eliminated are considered to be avoidable, which implies they are incremental. Some examples include a production supervisor's salary if he will be terminated, or rent on factory space that can be terminated.

 


Evaluating Outsourcing Decisions


Outsourcing products or services should generally be pursued if profits are expected to increase. It is especially important to consider the qualitative issues as well.

 

Accept or Reject?

If incremental cost savings plus opportunity costs are less than incremental costs, reject the special order, unless qualitative characteristics overwhelmingly impact the decision.

 

If incremental cost savings plus opportunity costs are greater than incremental costs, accept the special order unless qualitative characteristics overwhelmingly impact the decision.

 

If incremental cost savings plus opportunity costs are equal to incremental costs, focus primarily on qualitative characteristics to evaluate the decision.

 

Regardless if the choice is to outsource or insource, a company should always consider the qualitative aspects of decisions. Qualitative issues related to outsourcing include:


Walk Through Problem


Walker, Inc. currently manufactures 4,000 motors for its electric scooters annually. Direct material costs are $44,000 and direct labor total $16,000 annually for the motors. Overhead totals $18 per motor of which $5 is variable. Eighty percent of the fixed overhead is unavoidable. Swingly, Inc. has offered to sell the motors to Walker for $24 each. Create an incremental analysis for the outsourcing decision. 

Solution

Step 1: Determine the incremental cost to buy. The supplier has offered a price of $24 each for the 4,000 motors.

 

$24.00 x 4,000 = $96,000 

 

This is a cost to be paid out that will reduce profit, so it is shown in the analysis as a negative amount. 

 

Step 2: Determine incremental variable cost savings. Because the motors will no longer be manufactured, all variable product costs are considered to be cost savings. These amounts are added because by reducing costs, they cause profits to increase. You should list materials, labor, and variable overhead separately in the analysis. Total materials and total labor are given. The variable overhead cost savings must be calculated as:

Variable overhead cost savings = $5.00 x 4,000 = $20,000

Step 3: Determine incremental fixed cost savings. Because 80% of the fixed overhead is unavoidable, the other 20% is considered avoidable. Avoidable costs are always relevant because the cost will no longer be incurred if the motors are outsourced. As a result, 20% of the fixed overhead will be eliminated if outsourced, resulting in a cost savings. Of the $18 fixed overhead cost per unit, and given that $5 per unit is variable, the other $13 per motor is fixed. The total fixed overhead cost savings is:

 

4,000 units x (13 x 20%) = $10,400

 

Step 4: List the amounts in good form beginning with incremental revenue. The analysis should appear similar to the form of an income statement with descriptive line item labels:

 Incremental cost to buy

($96,000)

 Incremental cost savings:

 

     Direct materials

44,000

     Direct labor

16,000

     Variable overhead

20,000

     Fixed overhead

    10,400

Incremental decrease in profit if outsourced

($5,600)

If the motors are outsourced instead of manufactured, it is estimated that the company will incur additional costs of $5,600. Because profit is expected to decline by $5,600, the company should continue to produce internally and not outsource. However, qualitative issues should also be considered.

 

The label on the last line of the analysis contains three key components:


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