Direct Materials and Examples: Everything You Need to Know

This can help businesses optimize inventory levels and reduce waste, leading to cost savings and increased productivity. Implementing process improvements can help companies reduce indirect material costs by eliminating waste, reducing errors, and improving productivity. Companies can reduce labor costs, minimize inventory, and improve quality by optimizing processes.

  • Training employees on properly using and handling indirect materials can help reduce waste and prevent unnecessary expenses.
  • While not directly involved in the production process, these materials support business activities.
  • Exploring alternative materials can help companies reduce indirect material costs without sacrificing quality.
  • By evaluating supplier relationships, companies can identify areas where they can reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. Jasmiina is a Head of Content Marketing at Sievo with broad expertise in procurement and category management. Best performing companies recognize the need to analyze levers impacting working capital formulas and why you should know them bottom line performance – while also looking ahead to drive profitability. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. Direct materials are measured using two variances, which are noted below.

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More and more companies are seeking suppliers prioritizing sustainability. Suppliers should commit to sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices. They should also have a track record of reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact. They need to have been transformed from their original state for them to become part of your product, and therefore they incur costs when they’re being produced into something else. Raw materials are the unprocessed inputs used in the production of a good or service.

Direct spend in procurement refers to goods and services directly related.. There are multiple tools for spend and material forecasting from spreadsheets to sophisticated solutions fit for large companies. Best-of-breed solutions can provide insights not accessible using ERP systems or Excel spreadsheets that may be clumsy and prone to error.

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Each cost flow assumption will produce a different direct materials cost, which will affect your contribution margin and tax bill. Chat with an accountant to discuss which method makes the most sense for your business. For example, eggs, milk, and bread are direct materials in the production of French toast. Technology can also help businesses ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

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Automotive direct materials could look very different from those in the pharmaceutical or food industries. Indirect procurement categories on the other hand tend to be relatively similar across industries. Indirect categories include marketing, business travel, IT, facilities, and professional services. Direct materials do not include any materials that are consumed as part of the general overhead of a business.

However, they do not form part of the finished product, and we cannot link them to a specific job. In production processes in which direct material is an appropriate cost driver, on can allocate indirect costs to the cost of units of output via direct material. If it’s wood, then the cost driver may be based on feet of wood used, or pounds of wood used.

Recently, they noticed that the amount of material being used was higher than the amount on hand. Direct materials are tracked using Materials Requirements Planning (MRP). MRP systems help businesses forecast future demand for raw materials and plan production accordingly. Direct materials can also be tracked manually, although this is less common.

The IT department is critical in managing indirect materials, particularly technology-related ones. They are responsible for managing the software and hardware required for the organization to operate smoothly. They are also responsible for managing the inventory levels of IT-related indirect materials such as computer peripherals, software licenses, and other essential items. The hospitality industry requires a lot of indirect materials to provide guests with a comfortable and enjoyable experience.


Exploring alternative materials can help companies reduce indirect material costs without sacrificing quality. Companies can reduce costs without compromising quality by identifying less expensive but equally effective materials. However, ensuring that the alternative materials meet quality standards and do not compromise the product or service’s performance is crucial. Inventory management software can help companies track inventory levels and automate reordering processes. Additionally, data analytics tools can provide insights into usage trends and help companies identify areas for improvement. By using technology to manage indirect materials, businesses can gain better visibility into inventory levels, usage patterns, and reorder points.

Effective indirect materials management requires a clear understanding of accounting methods, challenges, best practices, and supplier selection factors. Managing and optimizing indirect materials in manufacturing requires strategic planning, standardized processes, and continuous improvement. By implementing these best practices, businesses can reduce costs, improve productivity, and stay competitive in an increasingly complex and challenging marketplace. Similarly, ingredients such as flour and sugar are raw materials used to produce food products in the food industry. However, packaging materials, cleaning supplies, and uniforms worn are indirect materials necessary for production but not directly used in the final product.

Direct materials quality defines the quality of your product and therefore impacts your competitive advantage and customer satisfaction. Therefore, quality management is an important part of direct procurement. Sourcing direct materials involves expertise, time, consideration, and attention. The cost of direct materials is also used in the formulation of contribution margin, since it is nearly the only subtraction from sales when arriving at the contribution margin.

They are generally more complex than raw materials and require more processing to be turned into a finished product. Various types of direct materials that are consumed in different manufacturing industries usually come from natural deposits, agricultural fields, forests and animals etc. However, the situations are not uncommon where the output of one business is further processed by another business to create a final and useable product. The categorization of direct materials is industry and organization specific.

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If a company uses improperly stored chemicals in its production process, it could contaminate groundwater or even cause an explosion. Lately, the cost of lumber has been increasing, and the company has struggled to keep its prices competitive. The CEO decided to explore using different types of wood that are less expensive than the currently used ones. If the materials must be transported from another part of the world, the price will be higher. For example, if steel needs to be imported from China, the cost will be higher than if it is produced in the United States. Accurate inventory information means avoiding ordering too much or too little of a material, which can lead to wasted time and materials.

What Are the Benefits of Using Technology to Manage Indirect Materials?

They can also involve employees in decision-making to get their buy-in and commitment. Proper usage and handling of indirect materials are essential for reducing waste and preventing accidents. Companies should train employees to properly use and handle indirect materials to ensure safety and minimize waste.

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