Cost of quality in Managerial Accounting


The cost of quality is referred to as the total amount of money needed for the product to meet the consumer’s expectations which should be of superior quality. When the product succeeds to meet the customer’s expectations by eliminating any cost incurred on lower grade quality, it is referred to as quality.

There are two primary types of quality involved during this process- Quality design (engineering department handles this) and Quality of conformance (entire company is associated.) This is used for determining the cost incurred in eliminating the poor quality resources and raise the quality of the product along with the internal and external results. The team product is obtained by implementing improvements with the help of the information that is provided by the organization collectively.

A product meeting or exceeding the design specifications that is free of any defects marring its appearance or bringing down its performance, is referred to as the product of superior or high quality. Example, an economy car free of defects can have the quality of conformance of a defect-free luxury car. The consumers can’t expect the economy car to work as a luxury car, but they can expect it to be free of any defects whatsoever.

Quality costs or costs of quality are prevention, detection and dealing of defects that cause the costs. The term quality cost is the sum total of all the costs that are used for prevention of defects in a product or the result from the defects in the products. (Bottorff, D. L., 2007)

Quality costs are of four major types that group into four broad groups. Two of these are known as the prevention cost and appraisal cost. Both of them are used in an effort to stop the costumers from having defective products into their hands. The other types of costs are known as internal failure costs and the external failure cost. Internal failure cost and external failure cost arise because it is not necessary that prevention always work. Defects can come despite the efforts undertaken to prevent the defects in the products. Thus, they are even known are the costs of the poor quality.

Quality costs do not come only under manufacturing department but they also relate to each and every activity that a company does, right from the initial research that goes into the product to the development of the product through customer service. The gross or net or total quality cost can reach quite high until and unless the management gives it a special attention.

Internal failure costs are the costs that occur with the defects that are found in the product even before the customer receives the service or the product. External failure costs occur when the defects are detected after the product or service is received by the customer. Appraisal costs are the costs that occur in determining the degree of conformance to meet the requirements of quality. Prevention costs are the costs that occur in keeping the failure to a minimum along with lowering the appraisal costs.

Cost quality is the methodology used by the company for determining the extent to which the resources are being used for the activities preventing the poor quality, that in turn appraise the quality of the company’s products or the services resulting from the internal and external failures. Such information comes in handy for determining the price that can be saved later on by implementation of the processed improvement. (Horngren, C. T., 2009)




They are incurred for prevention and avoidance of quality problems. These are associated with the designing, implementation and maintaining the quality management system. They are taken into account before the actual operation. It is so because the cost for prevention of a problem from ever happening is lesser than finding it later on and rectifying it.

Tools from total quality management are used by the companies to prevent any defects. These include-

  • Requirements of the product or service i.e. the establishing the specifications for the incoming materials, finished products, services, processes
  • Quality planning i.e. creating the plans for production, operation, quality, reliability and inspection of the products
  • Quality assurance i.e. creating and maintaining the quality system
  • Training i.e. developing, preparing, and maintaining the programs.
  • Workforce development
  • Systems development and management
  • Statistical process control is the technique used for detecting whether a process is in or is out of control. Out of control process is the one that results in defective units owing to a machine fault or some other factor. In control statistical process is the one where the workers use charts for monitoring the quality of units passing through their workstations. With the help of these charts, workers quickly spot the processes that are not in control, creating defects. Problems are rectified immediately instead of waiting for an inspector to catch them later on.
  • Quality circle is an organisation of people who meet regularly to discuss ways of improving the quality. Management people and the workers included.
  • Investment in information systems related to quality



These are the costs that incur with the monitoring and measuring the activities that are related to the quality. These are the costs that are associated when the customer’s and the suppliers’ evaluate the quality of the purchased materials, products, processes, services etc for ensuring that they all conform to the specifications.

These are also known as inspection costs. These include-

  • Verification i.e. inspecting and checking the quality of incoming materials, products, process setup against the specification that was agreed on.
  • Quality audits i.e. confirming and rechecking that the system for quality inspection is working correctly or accurately.
  • Supplier rating i.e. assessing and also approving the suppliers for products and services.
  • Acceptance testing
  • Checking of labour
  • Setup for test and inspection
  • Equipments for test and inspection
  • Field testing




Internal failure costs arise to remedy the defects that are discovered or found before the product or the service manages to reach the customer or is delivered to the customer. These arise when the fruits of labour i.e. the work result fails to reach the set design quality and standards. They include-

  • Waste i.e. holding of stock or performing unnecessary work owing to poor organization, errors, lack of communication clarity.
  • Scrap i.e. any product or material with defects that is unable to be repaired, used or even sold.
  • Rework or rectification i.e. the process of correction of the defective material or the errors incurred.
  • Failure analysis i.e. the activity that is required for establishment of the causes that caused the failure of internal product or service.
  • Material procurement costs

The more a company’s appraisal activities are effective, there would be greater chance of catching the defects internally and there would be greater level of the internal failure costs. This price is paid to avoid the external failure cost which is extremely high.



These are the costs that occur to correct or remedy the errors or defects that get discovered by the customers and they report about it to the company. They occur when the products or the services fail to reach the set design quality and standards and they remain undetected until after they get transferred to the consumer. These include-

  • Repairs and servicing of all the products that get returned and also the ones those remain in the field.
  • Warranty claims of the failed products that get replaced or are serviced and are re-performed on under the claims of guarantee.
  • Product service
  • Product liability even from the legal actions taken against the company
  • Recalling the products
  • Complaints made out of warranty
  • Complaints i.e. all the work and the costs that are associated with the service and handling of the complaints made by the customer.
  • Returns i.e. handling and investigating the rejected or the recalled products including their transportation costs.
  • Loss of reputation

Such incurred costs can decimate the earned profits. If problems are not solved at the correct time and at each and every stage, then there are high external failure costs, ill will of the customers and decline in the market share and also profits.

External failure costs give rise to another of intangible cost. This results in tarnishing the company’s image and they can be multiple times greater than the tangible costs. Intangible costs of quality can be quality problems or even missing a deadline.

Cost of poor quality is when internal failure costs, external failure costs and the intangible costs impair the goodwill of the company owing to their poor quality. (Kaplan, R. S., & Atkinson, A. A, (2015)



To ensure that the effect of quality on the organisation is desirable, the costs incurred in doing a quality job, in conducting the quality improvement, in achieving the set goals should be carefully monitored and regulated.

The quality effort is measured by such costs and thus they are better obtained by the analysis of the cost quality. The analysis of this provides a method that can assess the effectiveness of the management that assesses quality and also be a means of determination of the problematic areas, savings, opportunities, and priorities for action.

Cost of quality is an essential and extremely important communication tool to raise the awareness of the importance of the quality. Philip Crosby called the measure as the “price of non-conformance” and also stated that the organisations choose to pay for the poor quality.

Majority of organisations have quality-related costs that go as high as the 15% or 20% of the sales revenue that compares to going as high as the 40% of the total operations. The general rule of thumb states that the costs for poor quality in a thriving company are approximately around 10% to 15% of its operations. Effective quality improvement programs are helpful in reducing the costs substantially which directly helps in incurring profits.

The quality cost system, once verified, installed and established, has a dynamic and positive impact on the achievements of the organisation’s mission, goals and objectives.



There are two varieties of quality that a company has to sort out- one arises in the engineering department and the other that is the responsibility of the entire organisation.

  • Quality of Style

This is the power of the organisation for styling a product conforming to the standard expectations of a client. In other words, the standard expectations of the customer intended for the merchandise, this type of quality needs quality if interpretation of what the engineers understand about the expectations of the client’s wish and how they go about it to integrate those needs in the final product style.

If the quality doesn’t get designed into the very fundamental structure of the product, then there would  be no way of improving the standard state of the affairs later on, and would lead to the commutation of the merchandise with a replacement version if it.

  • Quality of Agreement

This is the power of the organisation or company to deliver a product that conforms completely to the set initial product style. This isn’t the sole responsibility of the assembly department but everyone else also helps in assuring such quality. The buying workers acquire the right materials; the shipping department ensures delivery of goods without harm and the promotion department helps in communicating the attributes about the merchandise that are most essential to the customers. (Garrison, R. H., 2003)



The Total Quality Management (TQM) is a key driver for client satisfaction and success for business. Economic processes increases the amount of competition and also drive towards the higher product quality. This can be also achieved by incorporation of elaborate standards into the managing and producing processes.

There’s globally recognized organisation namely the World Organisation for Standardization, which sets the standards and tips concerning processes that are the driving forces behind the assembly of quality products.

ISO 9000 like certifications that an organisation or company demonstrates that it is with success that enforces quality management standards. This is the major reason for that is becoming vital for choosing the world mercantilism partners.

An important task of the TQM is fretting quality by examining products and processes to the different types of world class corporations. This method of comparison is also known as benchmarking.



  • Inputs of the cost of quality information can be deficient.
  • Cost of quality definitions are unclear, cannot be completely comprehended. They can be brought after translation and execution.
  • Management often does not effectively utilize the Cost of Quality information and they often make choices without acknowledging or considering the effect of them on the cost of quality.
  • There is minimal effect on net impact if there are no improvements that are carried out amid undertaking endorsement choices on the cost of quality.
  • Fathering the cost of quality can be tedious and slow.




Bottorff, D. L. (2007). COQ systems: the right stuff. Quality progress, 30(3), 33.

Campbell, V. S. (2005). The cost of quality. Production and Inventory Management Journal, 36(3), 43.

Garrison, R. H., Noreen, E. W., & Brewer, P. C. (2003). Managerial accounting. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Hilton, R. W. (1991). Managerial accounting. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Horngren, C. T. (2009). Cost accounting: A managerial emphasis, 13/e. Pearson Education.

Horngren, C. T., Datar, Foster, G., & Horngren, C. T. (2002). Management and cost accounting. Harlow: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Kaplan, R. S., & Atkinson, A. A. (2015). Advanced management accounting. PHI Learning.

Youde, R. K. (1992). Cost-of-quality reporting: how we see it. Strategic Finance, 73(7), 34.



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