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The definition of direct profit is the money derived from sales, subtracted from the direct costs. This is one of the best ways to find whether a particular product is being profitable, especially in a company that manufactures or sells multiple products. However, when multiple products are involved, it will be more difficult to determine the profit of those products individually.
When a business produces only one product, it may not be hard to determine what the direct profit is. For example, a company that mines coal will know what its direct profit is because everything the company has, ostensibly, is dedicated to that one operation. Therefore, all costs the company incurs are used in the formula to determine the direct profit.
In cases where there are multiple products being produced in the same facility or area, determining direct profit becomes a little more difficult. For example, if one line in a food factory is producing bread and the other snack cakes, then there are some costs that will be shared among the two lines. Determining how that breaks down is the job of an analyst.
To continue with this example, if the factory buys flour and it is used universally by both the bread making lines and cake making lines, then a use analysis has to be done. This will determine how much flour is used per loaf of bread and per snack cake. Then, once the total number of units produced is determined, there is a good indication of how much flour each line is using. Thus, the findings can be factored into a direct profit report.
Determining the cost of employees for these lines is not that hard either, provided there is proper record keeping. Employees may be used exclusively on one line or the other, further simplifying the process. If not, then determining how many hours an employee spent on one line versus the other is important. With proper documentation, this is easily achieved.
However, there are other fixed costs, such as a building payments, utilities and such, that cannot be easily divided. For example, costs associated with heating or cooling the employees' workspace would be hard to factor in. One could look at the square footage required for both operations and then divide the costs between the two based on that, but it would not be a true reflection of the direct profit because some areas may need to be heated or cooled more than others. In these situations, determining the profit in a completely accurate way may be nearly impossible.
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