activity-based costing (ABC)

A technique for allocating costs to a product, service, customer, etc. The premise is that activities cause an organization to incur costs. Once the costs of the activities have been identified and each activity's cost has been determined, the cost of the activities is then allocated to the product, service, customer, etc. that required the activity. This technique is more logical for allocating overhead than simply allocating costs based on machine hours or direct labor hours.

To learn more, see Explanation of Activity Based Costing.