Activity-Based Costing, Budgeting, and Management: Definitions and Differences

Understanding the intricate financial mechanisms of a business is critical for effective management. Among these mechanisms, Activity-Based Costing (ABC), Activity-Based Budgeting (ABB), and Activity-Based Management (ABM) play pivotal roles. In this post, we’ll dive into these three interconnected concepts’ definitions, differences, and similarities.

Definitions of ABC, ABB, and ABM

What is Activity-Based Costing (ABC)?

Activity-Based Costing is an accounting method that identifies and assigns costs to overhead activities and then assigns those costs to the products or services that use the overhead activities. The aim of ABC is to create a more accurate understanding of the costs associated with each product or service, leading to more informed pricing, marketing, and manufacturing decisions.

What is Activity-Based Budgeting (ABB)?

Activity-Based Budgeting is a budgeting approach closely related to ABC. ABB determines the cost of activities needed to produce a product or service and uses this information to create budgets. This approach encourages efficiency by clarifying the financial implications of operational decisions. In contrast to traditional budgeting methods, ABB focuses on costs associated with activities rather than expenses related to departments or divisions.

What is Activity-Based Management (ABM)?

Activity-Based Management is a management approach that uses ABC data to make strategic decisions. ABM identifies cost drivers and seeks to reduce these costs or improve processes and activities to increase profitability. ABM is a holistic approach, as it considers costs and non-cost aspects like customer satisfaction, quality, and value.

Differences between ABC, ABB, and ABM

The three concepts, while related, serve different purposes and have distinct focuses.

  1. Focus: ABC is primarily an accounting method that accurately identifies the costs associated with each product or service. ABB, on the other hand, is a budgeting tool that utilizes the information provided by ABC to formulate budgets. ABM, however, is a management approach that applies the data from ABC to make strategic decisions.
  2. Scope: ABC and ABB are more detailed in their scope as they focus on activities, products, or services. ABM has a broader scope, considering the entire organization’s performance and strategic direction.
  3. Functionality: ABC and ABB are mainly used for internal decision-making, helping managers understand their operations’ cost dynamics and budgeting aspects. ABM can be employed for both internal decision-making and external reporting, providing stakeholders with a comprehensive picture of the company’s performance.

Similarities between ABC, ABB, and ABM

ABC, ABB, and ABM share several important similarities despite their differences.

  1. Activity-based: All three concepts are activity-based and consider the activities required to produce a product or provide a service. This focus on activities allows for a more accurate and detailed understanding of costs, budgets, and management decisions.
  2. Information Utilization: ABC, ABB, and ABM use the same underlying data but apply it differently. ABC generates the cost information, ABB uses it for budgeting, and ABM applies it for strategic decision-making.
  3. Efficiency Improvement: All three concepts aim to improve efficiency. ABC, ABB, and ABM help an organization optimize its operations and profitability by providing accurate cost information, encouraging effective budgeting, and facilitating strategic decisions.


In conclusion, Activity-Based Costing, Activity-Based Budgeting, and Activity-Based Management are interconnected concepts that work together to provide a detailed understanding of an organization’s costs, facilitate effective budgeting, and guide strategic decision-making. By implementing these distinct methods, companies can make more informed decisions, improve efficiency, and ultimately enhance profitability.

We hope this article gave you some clarity on these three concepts. Feel free to explore our other blogs, research our software solutions, or book a demo.

Maryville whitepaper

Are you ready for a 1 to 2-day reduction on your monthly book close process?

Download our white paper on corporate allocations, developed in collaboration with Maryville Consulting Group.

[gravityform id=19 field_values="resource_id=8318&resource_redirect=" title=false description=false ajax=true tabindex=49]

Don’t want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on everything cost and performance related.

We send you quarterly updates on CostPerform, exclusive tips & tricks and how others use CostPerform to answer their most complex costing questions.