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Activity-Based Management (ABM)


Activity-Based Management (ABM) is a method of identifying and evaluating activities in a business to improve efficiency and effectiveness. It involves tracking costs associated with specific tasks and resources, allowing businesses to make strategic decisions about reducing costs or increasing productivity based on this analysis. ABM is often used in tandem with activity-based costing, a system that assigns costs to individual activities based on their use of resources.


The phonetics of the keyword “Activity-Based Management (ABM)” is: ækˈtɪvɪti- beɪst mænɪdʒmənt (A-B-M)

Key Takeaways

  1. Focus on Activity: The primary premise of ABM is that it specifically focuses on managing activities as the route to improving the value received by a customer and the resulting profit achieved by providing this value. It’s about understanding the costs and performance of activities performed within the organization.
  2. Cost Management: ABM aids in managing indirect costs such as administration, distribution, and customer service by attributing these costs to the specific activities that generate them. This approach provides an accurate understanding of how costs relate to products, services, and customers.
  3. Continuous Improvement: ABM promotes an environment of continuous improvement by identifying inefficient activities, inefficiencies, or bottlenecks. By doing so, organizations can seek ways to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and reduce costs, thereby enhancing overall performance and profitability.


Activity-Based Management (ABM) is an essential strategic approach to managing business operations that can lead to improved cost efficiency and profitability. By attributing costs directly to the activities that cause them, ABM provides greater cost transparency and better insights for decision-making. It allows businesses to identify the areas where resources are being used inefficiently and helps to eliminate non-value-adding activities. In doing so, it enhances performance, competitiveness, and customer satisfaction. Thus, the practical application of ABM essentially aids in pursuing cost reduction, quality improvement, and strategic business planning.


Activity-Based Management (ABM) is a systematic, management approach that aims to identify, describe, assign costs to, and report on the activities that a business performs. The purpose of ABM is to reduce costs and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations. This is typically achieved by understanding the relationships between costs, business activities, products, services, and customers. ABM enables an integrated approach to operations, cost analysis and management practices, leading to a more detailed understanding of how resources are used in a business.

ABM is used to identify areas where resources are being unnecessarily expended, which assists companies in determining where costs can be reduced without negatively impacting product quality or service delivery. Furthermore, it can be employed to identify opportunities for improvement, such as inefficient processes, bottlenecks, or redundant operations. By examining these activity-based cost measurements, businesses can make informed strategic decisions about product pricing, outsourcing, process improvement, budgeting, and other key issues. Essentially, ABM serves as a detailed roadmap to help businesses streamline operations and increase profitability.


1. Manufacturing Industry: Perhaps the best real-world example of Activity-Based Management is within the manufacturing sector. For instance, companies like Toyota use ABM to streamline their production process. Each activity, from sourcing raw materials to assembling the final product, is mapped out and assigned a cost. The management then puts emphasis on reducing costs of high-value activities and improving the efficiency of the entire manufacturing process.

2. Healthcare Sector: Hospitals also leverage ABM to improve patient care and save costs. Healthcare providers have numerous activities, such as patient admission, diagnostics, treatment, and discharge, each having their respective costs. By identifying and managing these costs, the hospital can more accurately price its services and reduce non-value adding activities. For example, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle implemented an ABM approach, which successfully reduced their costs and improved the quality of their care.

3. Banking Sector: Banks like the Bank of America use ABM in their day-to-day operations to identify the cost of each activity such as ATM transactions, online banking, and in-branch services. By utilizing ABM, they identify the costs of these activities and work on reducing the expenses of high-cost activities. This allows banks to be more cost-effective, ensure profitable customer relationships, and help strategize the introduction of new banking products or services.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Activity-Based Management (ABM)?

Activity-Based Management (ABM) is a management approach that focuses on managing activities as a way of improving customer value and profit. It identifies and evaluates activities within a business that impact profitability and its overall performance.

What is the main purpose of Activity-Based Management?

The main purpose of ABM is to improve the value received by customers and to improve profits by identifying and eliminating non-value-added activities, reducing costs, and improving business processes.

How does ABM work?

ABM works by thoroughly understanding the business process, identifying activities that need resources, determining resource costs, linking activities to the output, and lastly, managing activities to optimize business value.

What steps are involved in implementing ABM?

The steps involved in implementing ABM include: Identifying key business processes, determining key activities within these processes, assigning costs to these activities, analyzing these costs, and making strategic decisions based on this analysis.

How does Activity-Based Management differ from Traditional Costing?

Traditional Costing allocates costs based on a single, volume-based cost driver, whereas ABM assigns costs to activities based on their use of resources, and then assigns cost to cost objects, such as products or customers, based on their use of these activities.

Who can use ABM?

Any organization, regardless of its size or industry, can use ABM. It is particularly useful for businesses with high overhead costs, diverse product lines, or complex processes.

What are the benefits of implementing ABM?

The potential benefits of implementing ABM include increased cost efficiency, enhanced business processes, improved product pricing and profitability, better decision-making thanks to more accurate cost information, and enhanced overall business performance.

Does Activity-Based Management have any pitfalls?

While ABM has numerous benefits, it may also come with some potential limitations, such as the time and resources required to implement it, the need for continuous data collection and analysis, and the potential for misinterpretation of data, especially if it is not clearly linked to performance results.

Is Activity-Based Management applicable to all industries?

While ABM is not industry-specific and can be used in any type of business, it is most effective in industries with multiple products or services, complex processes, and significant indirect and overhead costs.

What role does technology play in ABM?

Technology plays a crucial role in ABM, in that it aids in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data. Advanced software can also be used to gain real-time insights, which can help in better decision-making and overall management of activities.

Related Finance Terms

  • Cost Drivers
  • Cost Pools
  • Value-Added Activities
  • Non-Value-Added Activities
  • Process Improvement

Sources for More Information

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