The business environment is increasingly competitive and dynamic today, therefore, it is critical for a company to develop and implement an effective strategic management, and it is also important that business strategies are developed at the appropriate levels within a company. In order to face the challenge of global competition, technological innovation and the change in business processes, managers and management accountants must think competitively and this requires a strategy. This essay will compare the strategic management accounting and strategic cost management, how they used in accounting literature, and finally give definition of these two concepts.
There is no agreed definition of strategic management accounting in the accounting literature. In 1981, Simmonds first introduced the concept of strategic management accounting in the UK professional magazine, Management Accounting and provide a review of its origins and to access the extent of adoption and success of strategic management accounting. Simmonds (1981) defined it as the provision and analysis of management accounting data about a business and its competitors, for use in developing and monitoring business strategy. Roslender and Hart(2003) indicated that at its very simplest, strategic management accounting is just about making management accounting more strategic. Lord (1996) defined strategic management accounting as a process involves collection of competitor information, exploitation of cost reduction opportunities and matching of accounting emphasis with strategic position. However, Dixon and Smith(1993) stated that there are four stages to strategic management process which includes strategic business unit identification, strategic cost analysis, strategic market analysis and strategy evaluation. They think strategic management accounting is lying at the interface of management accounting and strategy, while other authors,(for example, Wilson,1995; Foster and Gupta,1994) see marketing as the more relevant orientation for strategic management accounting. Roslender and Hart (2002, p.269) argued that strategic management accounting should be more thoroughly infused with marketing issues, theories and concepts to form a ‘marriage of equal partners’. All in all, it is clear that strategic management entails taking a strategic orientation to the generation, interpretation and analysis of management accounting information and competitors’ activities provides the key dimension for comparison.
Strategic management accounting embraces the management accounting techniques with a clear strategic focus and a numbers of techniques have been included in the strategic management accounting which include target costing, life-cycle costing, strategic cost analysis, competitor cost analysis, activity-based costing, activity-based management, life- cycle costing and strategic performance measurement system. Besides, Smith (2007) indicated that Strategic management accounting draws heavily on non-financial measures. However, the conventional management accounting systems tend to be more financially oriented and pay more emphasis on historical financial evaluation. Research evidences show that strategic management accounting practices have widely ranging degrees of application but the adoption rates of innovative strategic management accounting practices are relatively low. Nevertheless, the potential of strategic management accounting should not be overlooked. Otley (2001) believed that this strategic accounting had a major impact on the thinking of practicing management accountants. Strategic management accounting associated with future accounting-base and market-based returns. However, there is not enough evidence showing how these strategic management accounting practices have been adopted or denied by the organizations. But it is popular with some companies and Smith (2008) stated that it would be useful to understand how techniques diffuse into more general practices and into organizational processes.
Strategic management accounting is usually used by accounting academics and practitioners in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. However, in the USA the term strategic cost management is more commonly used in the literature. Shank and Govindarajan( 1994) stated it the blending of the financial analysis elements of three themes from the strategic management literature which involves value analysis, strategic positioning analysis and cost driver analysis. It is clearly that the description of strategic cost management has similarities with strategic management accounting, but some would view strategic management accounting, as broader than strategic cost management.
Shank(1989) described strategic cost management as the third stage of the development of the management accounting discipline which is from cost accounting to managerial accounting to strategic cost management. It can help to formulate and communicate strategies, carry out tactics that implement those strategies and develop and implement controls that monitor success at achieving strategic objectives. It can be also defined as scrutinizing every process within organization, knocking down departmental barriers, understanding suppliers’ business and helping improve their processes. Tayles (2009) stated that there are a range of ways that strategic cost management can be used which involves employing strategic resources, making important business decisions, examining strategic resources and locating important resources. Whether this strategy brings management accounting discipline and new strategy to do business is controversial, however, Shank(1898) provided the direction for management accounting researchers and practitioners in his paper titled ‘Strategic cost management: new wine, or just new bottles?’ And the academics in the operating management and accounting literature supported and contributed to this message. (Chenhall and Langfield-Smith,2007). In addition, there are also arguments about whether activity-based costing is the capstone of strategic accounting or whether strategic cost management is the umbrella under the activity-based costing.
The main aim of this strategy is to make sure that the business firm is able to be successful in its endeavors and grow as well. It also aimed at sustaining this growth that has been achieved. It is believed that there are many major auto parts manufacturing companies became bankrupt and the reason for that is the lack of a proper strategic cost management plan. Further, it is a very important in strategic cost management that is the proper usage of the available resources. In order to work properly and effectively, it is very necessary for a company to address the issue of usage of resources in a proper manner. The evidences show that companies which can use their resources in a cost effective way are able to make their strategic cost management plans run and also can maintain the stability of the company. As a result, they can grow and sustain that growth as well.
Based on the above discussion, strategic management accounting can be defined as a management accounting in the context of business strategies being panned and implemented by a company. It is a business practice which can help a firm to improve its competitive standing, financial robustness and profit potential. Strategic management accounting can benefit a company in terms of cost control, financial accounting and reporting, variance analysis and control monitoring as well.
On the other hand, strategic cost management involves the practices of understanding the causes costs to occur and doing so through cost driver and value chain analyses. The most important part of strategic cost management is the value chain. In fact, the key to strategic cost management lies in all business processes and activities throughout the value chain. Strategic cost management helps managers and management accountants to understand cost structure and behavior. For example, many companies often cut costs to survive during an economic crisis. It is vital for a company to decide which cost should be first cut, because cutting the wrong areas will destroy future competitiveness. Using strategic cost management helps them overcome these difficulties. So it is an important part of the business plans of all business entities, as they are extremely crucial for growth as well as retaining the growth. Therefore, using strategic cost management or strategic management accounting will not only help companies to save money, but also help them to thrive after economy recovers and maintain their competiveness.
A strategy in general terms refers to a plan of action that will shape the direction of a company’s success. Strategy is vital for a company because it is the way that a firm positions and distinguishes itself from its competitors. It is also important that business strategies must be developed in the context of the internal and external environment s so that they can be practical and effective. Strategic management accounting and strategic cost management have similar feature as well as differences. Managers and management accountants need to know the importance of choosing appropriate strategy for a company and effectively implement it, therefore, their companies can face the challenges and succeed in the competitive business world.
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