What is Cost Centre? Meaning and Definition                                          

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A cost centre is a part of an organization which is responsible for cost incurrence but is not directly involved in revenue generation. A cost centre belongs to a large firm where it is essential to assign expenses to various activities and functions. Some common cost centres are manufacturing departments, administrative offices, research and development teams, and customer service centres.

The main goal of cost centres is to observe and control the costs. Through cost allocation, which is capable of tracing the expenses to departments or functions, organizations can monitor spending, analyze budget differences, and make informed decisions about resource allocation and cost management.

Cost centres are usually evaluated based on their efficiency and effectiveness in managing costs in comparison with the outputs or services they provide. Such evaluation helps the companies to find out the places where they may be making mistakes and fix them to achieve financial profitability.


Examples of cost centre

The costs incurred by a business unit are called cost centres, which may not bring direct revenue. It is a key element to making sure that they are properly aligned with business goals and will help in improving efficiency and effectiveness. Here are examples of cost centres aligned well with business objectives:

  1. Administrative Departments: The departments that do the administrative work include those of human resources, finance and legal affairs. The main philosophy of the two branches is based on them being in charge of compliance, managing resources effectively, and making the organization work smoothly.
  2. Research and Development (R&D):  For sectors where innovation is critical, the R&D departments are the very important cost centres. The strategic goal of these companies is focused on the development of new products, the improvement of existing ones, and the technology leadership and trends in the market.
  3. Quality Control: Quality control units guarantee that goods conform to the set standards before they are launched to the market. Their mission is to put the customer first, decrease returns, and sustain the company’s reputation as the best in the business.
  4. Information Technology (IT): IT departments are responsible for managing the technology infrastructure including networks and systems within the organization. Their strategic objective concentrates on the delivery of robust and secure IT services, which enable the company’s operations and enhance digital transformation.
  5. Customer Service: Customer service departments are in charge of processing those inquiries, complaints, and rendering support services to customers. Both customer satisfaction and loyalty are the main purposes of their alignment towards building customer retention, which leads to revenue growth through repeat sales and positive referrals.
  6. Supply Chain Management: As one of the cost centres in supply chain management, a supply chain is in charge of the smooth transportation of commodities and services from suppliers to customers. They aim to ensure optimal stock levels, minimize transportation costs, and improve the overall performance of supply chain operations.
  7. Marketing and Advertising:  Marketing and advertising teams are the ones that create the advertising campaigns to draw in new consumers. The purpose of their alignment is to target new prospects, raise brand awareness, and, in the end, boost sales revenue.
  8. Facilities Management: Facilities management is in charge of the maintenance and operation of physical assets for example buildings and equipment. Their alignment is the creation of a safe and productive work environment, optimization of energy usage, and lowering operational costs.
  9. Training and Development: The training and development departments, by facilitating employee skills and knowledge advancement, are one of the most important parts of any organization. This alignment is in performance improvement of employees, turnover reduction and creating a culture of performance development.
  10. Cost Control and Budgeting: Cost control and budgeting departments keep track of and manage the expenses to ensure they are the same as the budgetary limitations and financial objectives. Their strategy lies in the improvement of resource allocation, cost control, and profit increase.


Cost centre vs profit centre


Cost Centre:

  • The cost centres refer to the areas or segments within an organization that incur costs but cannot generate revenue directly.
  • The major objective of cost centres is to maintain and supervise the expenditures connected to specific tasks, functions, or departments.
  • Cost centres are represented by administrative departments, as well as support functions such as human resources or IT, and also maintenance.
  • While in the cost centers the performance of employees may be measured by cost control, efficiency and adherence to budgets, not revenue generation.
  • Cost centers are vital for budgeting, cost allocation and they enable cost reduction or optimisation.

Profit Centre:

  • A profit centre is a section or unit within an organization which is accountable for the activity of both generating revenue and incurring expenses.
  • Profit centres are the focal point of the company’s business operations. They aim to produce profit, or positive returns, for the organization.
  • Profit centers are the revenue-generating units which include product lines, sales regions, and business units that have their own revenue streams and related costs.
  • The job of the profit centres is measured by both revenue generation and cost management which emphasizes maximizing profits.
  • Profit centers have autonomy and responsibility which are not comparable with cost centres, as they have an influence on revenue generation and profitability.

Key Differences:

Revenue Generation:

  • Management of costs is the focus area of cost centres, these centres do not directly generate revenue.
  • The profit centres are the units that generate revenue and make sure the costs are managed, resulting in maximum profits.

Primary Focus:

  • Cost centres basically target budget compliance, reduction of expenses and optimal resource usage.
  • Profit centres aim at generating sales, controlling costs as well as managing expenses to create a healthy financial status.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Cost centres are assessed according to cost control, efficiency, and conformity with budgetary restraints.
  • Profit centres are assessed on two factors – income generation and profitability, to earn positive ROI.

Autonomy and Accountability:

  • In cost centres, autonomy and accountability are usually low because their performance is primarily measured against how well they manage the costs.
  • Profit centres possess a greater degree of autonomy and accountability as they get direct command over revenue generation and profitability.


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A profit center is a part of a company that directly contributes to its profits by generating revenue as well as incurring costs. It has its own income statements and is responsible for its profitability.

A profit center is involved in both earning revenue and incurring costs with the goal of making a profit, while a cost center only manages expenses related to its operations without direct revenue generation.

Cost centers are important for accurate budgeting, cost allocation, and identifying potential areas for expense reduction or optimization within a company.

 Profit centers typically have more autonomy and accountability than cost centers since they are responsible for their own revenue generation and profitability.