QUALITIES OF A GOOD COST ACCOUNTING INFORMATION

J.O. EMMANUEL
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Good cost accounting information should have eight essential qualities, namely; cost-effectiveness, timeliness, relevance, completeness, clarity, accuracy, unambiguity, and conciseness.

The following are the essential qualities of good accounting information.

1. Cost-effectiveness: The potential benefits obtainable from cost accounting information should exceed the cost of acquiring it.

That is, the expense of establishing and maintaining a cost accounting system should be justified by the value of the information derived from it.

In essence, the organization should be able to justify the cost of obtaining cost accounting information by the potential benefits it can provide.

2. Timeliness: This means that cost accounting information must be presented to the decision maker in a timely manner, preferably before a decision is taken.

This is due to the fact that information that is unavailable until after a decision has been made will only be relevant for comparison and long-term control, and may even be useless at that point.

Timeliness, then, refers to the timely availability and presentation of cost accounting information to the decision-maker so that it can be used to make informed decisions.

3. Relevance: This is another important quality of good cost accounting information.

Relevance refers to the degree or extent to which cost accounting information is useful and valuable to the decision-making needs of a manager. 

Cost accounting information should be relevant in the sense that it should be useful to the manager and should be directly related to the specific problem the manager is trying to address.

Stated simply, Cost accounting should be relevant to the purpose for which a manager wants to use it.

4. Completeness: Good cost accounting information should provide all necessary information to the users of the information so that they can make sound and informed economic decisions.

That is, cost accounting information should provide a comprehensive breakdown of all expenditures incurred by an organization so that users can make informed decisions about how to control and reduce costs.

Without complete information, decisions may be based on inaccurate or incomplete data, leading to poor decisions.

So, to help users make the right decision, cost accounting information should be complete.

5. Clarity: Good cost information should be clear to the users or managers.

That is, users should be able to easily comprehend and interpret cost accounting information.

Lack of clarity has the potential to cause a communication breakdown. 

So, good accounting information should be clear enough to avoid communication breakdown

6. Accuracy: Cost accounting should also be accurate in that the records and data provided by the cost accounting should be the true and fair view of the cost of an organization.

Cost accounting information must represent the true state of the cost of an organization.

If cost information is inaccurate, It could have serious and damaging consequences for the organization.

7. Unambiguous: This means that the cost accounting information should be clear and free of any words or phrases that can have multiple meanings or interpretations.

In other words, the cost accounting information shouldn't contain jargon or technical terms that the users might not be familiar with, nor should the cost accounting information contain any unclear words or phrases.

If a cost accounting contains ambiguous information, it could be misinterpreted by the users, thereby creating confusion.

Therefore, to avoid such a situation, good cost accounting information should be unambiguous.

8. Concise: This means that cost accounting information should be clear, brief, and to the point.

This enables users to concentrate on the most important information and prevents them from becoming overburdened by irrelevant stuff.

To emphasize, eight fundamental characteristics—cost-effectiveness, timeliness, relevance, completeness, clarity, accuracy, unambiguity, and conciseness—should characterize good cost accounting information.

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