Standard costing system
However, it has been argued that traditional variance analysis is unhelpful and potentially misleading in the modern organization, and can make managers focus their attention on the wrong issues, for example over-producing and stockpiling finished goods, since higher production volumes mean that overheads are spread over more units. Standard costing concentrates on amount and ignores other factors contributing to efficiency. In a total quality environment, for instance, quantity is not an issue, however; quality is. Effectiveness is such an environment therefore centers on high quality output (produced as a result of high quality input and the elimination of non-value adding activities) and the cost of failing to attain the needed level of effectiveness is measured not in variances, though in terms of internal and external failure costs, neither of which would be recognized by a traditional standard costing analysis.
Standard costing system might measure, say, labor efficiency in terms of individual tasks and level of output. In a total quality environment, labor is more likely to be viewed as a number of multi-task teams who are responsible for the completion of a part of the production process. The efficiency of such a team is more properly measured in terms of re-working needed, returns from customers, defects recognized in subsequent stages of production and so forth.